Remember when Maine had service merchandise stores?

Here’s a throwback for you. MERCHANDISE DEPARTMENT. Do you remember the store?

What is service merchandise?

Maine had a handful at the time. I remember being in stores in South Portland and Lewiston and we thought they were THE FUTURE of retail! The store wasn’t actually a store. It was a showroom. And how you got what you wanted was an amazing journey!

How did you shop at Service Merchandising?

When you found something on the showroom floor that you wanted, you WRITE the model down on your little Service Merchandise notebook.

Then you would pay. And then the MAGIC WAIT. You stood next to the conveyor belt and waited for your item to pass. As the Tom Petty song says, the waiting is the hardest part!

And for some really big items that were too big for the conveyor belt, you could just take the tag to them and they would go find it for you and you would pick it up from the back.

Service Merchandise had all sorts of good stuff – jewelry was big. Just like toys and electronics. Like this gorgeous microwave for just $144.82. Which was a ton of money in the 1980s!

The centerpiece of the Service Merchandise experience was the catalog. It was a big problem in my family when the catalog arrived.

Check out this very sassy Service Merch ad. it looks a bit like a Whitesnake video you would have seen on MTV in 1989.

Service Merchandise had a great run; from 1960 until the early 2000s. At its height in the 70s and 80s, it was a 4 BILLION dollar business. But then big box stores like Walmart came to Maine, and that, along with the advent of online shopping, marked the end of Service Merchandise.

I still think of the store whenever I pass by the old South Portland location. Now the location for the Guitar Center and Dollar Tree near the mall.

Here are 50 Mainers Want stores, restaurants at the Maine Mall

This is a Mainers, by Mainers wishlist of spots we’d like to see appear at the Maine Mall sooner rather than later.

A unique look at the history of Portland International Airport

You’ll see the beginnings of Portland City Airport, through the “Golden Age” and into the era of jet engines. It really is a unique look at the history of the Jetport.

Many thanks to the folks at Portland Maine History 1786 to Present for allowing us to share them.