December 6, 2013
Service Merchandise was a retail franchise known for its massive showrooms and large catalogs.
It was renowned for its massive showrooms and its equally large catalogs, but these days, it only exists in the digital realm.
Service Merchandise was founded as a dime store in the 1930s in Tennessee, but became a showroom-styled store in the 1960s.
The franchise exploded with success throughout the 1970s and 1980s, selling a wide variety of items that ranged from telescopes to video game systems, diamond jewelry to watches.
The store was also a prominent sponsor of both editions of Wheel of Fortune during what fans call the “shopping era,” where contestants played for prizes instead of cash.
Despite being an early adopter of Internet shopping, the franchise fell into the decline in the 1990s and was hit by multiple bankruptcies. Showrooms began downsizing and certain types of items were phased out.
However, the stores were all closed in 2002.
The name of the franchise was purchased and it was brought back exclusively as an online retailer, which is still in operation in the present day.