Re: Son Of Silent Sam

1

Do any of you remember that place?

I do! I do!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 6:49 PM
horizontal rule
2

Holy crap! I remember Service Merchandise!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 6:49 PM
horizontal rule
3

I always knew I liked you best, Timbot.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 6:49 PM
horizontal rule
4

3 when I still thought Timmy and I would be the only people to remember it.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 6:50 PM
horizontal rule
5

Isn't Ikea kind of like Service Merchandise was? In short, I go for the "before its time" theory.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 6:51 PM
horizontal rule
6

I have fond memories of it. I think it was the first place I bought Christmas presents for my family, because it was close enough for a kid to bicycle to. And I remember swanning around the showroom, wondering what to buy, and being confused by and a little terrified of the ordering system.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 6:53 PM
horizontal rule
7

My alarm clock is older than I am.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 6:55 PM
horizontal rule
8

I remember that store. I couldn't tell it from Circuit City at the time, though. My parents laughed at its outlandishly unfair return policy once.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 6:55 PM
horizontal rule
9

I bought my first Walkman there, too. I was always a stingy kid and parting with such a large amount of money dutifully saved up from babysitting jobs, etc. was a big deal. I even splurged for the bright yellow Walkman Sport because it looked so cool and had (gasp) a rewind button.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 6:56 PM
horizontal rule
10

let's make "stingy" into "thrifty"


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 6:56 PM
horizontal rule
11

I thought cell phones had replaced alarm clocks.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 6:57 PM
horizontal rule
12

The post title had me thinking you'd taken up a study of UNC's monuments.

My alarm clock is 15 years old or so. Rah calls it the Apocalypse Clock because it is so very incredibly obnoxiously loud. It's the only thing that will wake me.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 6:57 PM
horizontal rule
13

I remember it too! Was it an IL thing, or at least a MidWest thing?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 7:03 PM
horizontal rule
14

No, we had one in California.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 7:04 PM
horizontal rule
15

Service Merchandise! Zomg! That brings back the memories.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 7:12 PM
horizontal rule
16

I remember it for the lava lamps they sold, back when my parents took me there 25+ years ago.

They were brushed brass, with red lava.


Posted by: Pantene | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 7:21 PM
horizontal rule
17

I remember Service Merchandise, one of numerous failed retail chains in this area, like Caldors and Jamesway.

I don't see how you can say it was ahead of its time when it was quite successful for a while but then failed to keep up with the times.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 7:22 PM
horizontal rule
18

They had them in Texas also.


Posted by: Amber | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 7:22 PM
horizontal rule
19

11 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 7:24 PM
horizontal rule
20

I remember when my brother got a digital clock radio. This would have been 30+ years ago. Rather than an LED display, it had an electromechanical gizmo like a rolodex made out of a thin, film-like material with numbers on it. The numbers were backlighted, and as the minutes ticket by, it flipped over a new number like a gas station sign.

The alarm buzzer on it approximated a foghorn.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 7:28 PM
horizontal rule
21

20: I call that the Groundhog Day alarm clock.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 7:35 PM
horizontal rule
22

My alarm clock is more than ten years old, and possibly the only electronic device I own of any staying power.

I'm specifically pissed off about cordless phones. Growing up, my family had cordless phones that last at least ten years. Since I moved to California ten years ago, I've had three die on me.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 7:38 PM
horizontal rule
23

In my homecity, the Service Merchandise disappeared about eight years ago, leaving an enormous empty building that now houses the real store of the future, the Salvation Army.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 7:39 PM
horizontal rule
24

What I remember from SM (in Miami) is the weird lamps with wires that dripped with some sort of liquid. It may have been just water, but the wires made it drip like honey. One of the most bizarrely tacky things I've ever seen.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 8:13 PM
horizontal rule
25

My wife was heartbroken to give up her late-80s alarm clock a couple years back. It stopped, you know, alarming consistently. When it was 3 times in about 10 days, I insisted. It took 3 clocks til we found a satisfactory replacement.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 8:14 PM
horizontal rule
26

My oldest electronic gadget is an HP 12C that I bought c. 1986 and that has survived all sorts of abuse with nothing but a few (surprisingly few) battery changes.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 8:14 PM
horizontal rule
27

I don't know Service Merchandise, but we used to have something similiar in Canada called Consumers' Distributors (or maybe Consumers' Distributing). It sold a lot of tacky stuff, but had good prices on home appliances.

It's funny to think of how these once shiny and new and ultramodern gadgets now seem so quaintly outmoded. The antiquities of a postindustrial age.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 8:18 PM
horizontal rule
28

When I was a girl, we used to spend long hours at my maternal grandmother's house on holiday visits watching the numbers flip over on her alarm clock. No, I am not kidding you. It was that fucking boring at Grandma's.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 8:24 PM
horizontal rule
29

I did not realize it, but Service Merchandise had an affiliation with Best Products which had a similar retail model. Best went bankrupt in 1994 (after having been named "most efficient" company in 1985). Best had the most interesting architecture of any retail outlet. I remember the great "Indeterminate Facade" at their Houston store (a lot of interesting buildings is one of Houston's few charms in my book). Sadly gone, I learn. For a real architectural tragedy scroll through this link.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 8:30 PM
horizontal rule
30

20: I remember alarm clocks like that!

Gosh, they must have been dated even when groundhog day was made. Using one must have been a very deliberate decision.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 9:03 PM
horizontal rule
31

Argos in the UK has a similar system, except there isn't even a showroom, just a bunch of catalogs and terminals set out.


Posted by: JH | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 9:10 PM
horizontal rule
32

Best went out of business in 1994? Huh. I remember my dad getting me earrings from there, I didn't think it was that long ago.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 9:13 PM
horizontal rule
33

32: oops, my bad. That was a first bankruptcy, looks like they lasted until 1998 or so. Temporarily unhinged with grieving for the loss of art....


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 9:16 PM
horizontal rule
34

Heh. The Best Products that used to be on the Durham/Chapel Hill border stopped selling whipped cream charges when I was in high school because we'd go buy a couple boxes, sit in the parking and lot and do them, then go back in and buy more.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 9:48 PM
horizontal rule
35

34: From this site it appears the stores that had the innovative architectures were: Richmond Va (2), Milwaukee, Houston, Sacramento, Towson MD and Ashland VA. The Milwaukee one is awesome.

And combining Durham, mind-blowing and architecture, the Durham Blue Cross Blue Shield building (I think) was a great rhomboid building. Great to wander around underneath while stoned admiring how it fucks up your perspective. Or so I hear...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 10:03 PM
horizontal rule
36

IA! Consumers Distributing, exactly. Those catalogues of ladies rings with Star Sapphires and Cat's Eye Topazes. I'm sitting next to the tape recorder I bought there in 1981. We could take the bus out there, that was the big deal.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 01-14-08 11:44 PM
horizontal rule
37

Kijkshop in the Netherlands has this sort of system, where because they skim on service and atmosphere and all that crap in their shops they supposedly are that much more amazingly cheaper than any other shops, but they never are. Only things you can get there are nobrand electronics much more expensive than in a normal shop, ninety percent of which gives up the ghost the minute you have it home. And just try and invoke the warranty.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Meanwhile, still mourning the loss of my 1987 vintage lime green Yoko alarm radio, which went missing in our last move but one.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 12:31 AM
horizontal rule
38

Durham Blue Cross Blue Shield building

Still there. I worked in it for a year, actually, when I was working for Xerox and was onsite there.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 12:43 AM
horizontal rule
39

My alarm clock is about 20 years old, and mains powered with proper big red LED numbers [none of yer LCD crap]. It's held together with tape and missing part of the plastic casing. Still works though.

An ex g/friend of mine had some 'bio' alarm clock that was, reputedly, designed by some biologist or other to wake you relentlessly but gradually. It started incredibly quiet, but the noises were randomly spaced and got louder and quieter in an unusual/unpredictable fashion.

It did work. You just woke up, and then realized a minute or so after you woke up that the alarm clock was still going off.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 1:06 AM
horizontal rule
40

31: It depends on the individual store. Some Argos stores have showrooms - I know the one in Kingston does, for instance. But most don't have the space these days.

Argos is quite popular here, because it's fairly cheap for a wide range of goods. We don't have any other Best Buy equivalent - chains like PC World and Dixons which focus more on consumer electronics are actually really expensive.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 3:35 AM
horizontal rule
41

My alarm clock is about 20 years old, and mains powered with proper big red LED numbers [none of yer LCD crap].

Technonerd! What's wrong with hands that go round and round, then?

We don't have any other Best Buy equivalent

Logically why would there be? If your business shtick is that your stores have nothing to recommend them except that they're cheaper, then in due course the cheapest chain should drive out all the rest.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 4:11 AM
horizontal rule
42

re: 41

Technonerd! What's wrong with hands that go round and round, then?

I'm not a fan of 'tick tick tick' when trying to sleep. I also have to have the plug-in alarm clock sitting on a mat, as the tiny amount of electrical hum resonates through the table and the noise drives me nuts [I'm one of those (quite common) people who hears high-pitched electrical noises].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 4:24 AM
horizontal rule
43

about 20 years old, and mains powered with proper big red LED numbers
I have one of those, too. One of the switches is damaged but it's still fully usable for women, children and guys with tiny hands.

The alarm clock I really want is this one.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 4:31 AM
horizontal rule
44

I'm currently expecting a Chumby, and about the first thing I make it do will be to emulate one of the wonderful 1980s SNCF station clocks - either the fluorescent yellow on black display model or the dispatcher one with red LEDs progressively moving around the rim of a circular digital clock to show the seconds.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 4:52 AM
horizontal rule
45

My dealer in HS had the best alarm clock. It projected the time onto the ceiling, so that you didn't even have to crane your neck to see the time (provided you were sleeping on your back, of course).

Kijkshop in the Netherlands has this sort of system, where because they skim on service and atmosphere and all that crap in their shops they supposedly are that much more amazingly cheaper than any other shops, but they never are

Yeah, the kijks have a reputation for cheating gentiles, you know.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 5:46 AM
horizontal rule
46

"Logically why would there be? If your business shtick is that your stores have nothing to recommend them except that they're cheaper, then in due course the cheapest chain should drive out all the rest."

I suppose, but Argos really isn't that close to Best Buy in its product range - on top of its electronics it sell furniture, jewellery, toys and so on. And it's not like it's driving the other chains out of business - furniture has Ikea, jewellery has a bunch of crappy dedicated chains, and electronics has Dixons and PC World. The odd thing is that these chains are usually more expensive than Argos and with pretty crappy customer service, but are just as prevalent.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 6:15 AM
horizontal rule
47

Hmmm. With the jewellery business, and a bit with IEA tooo, there's a conspiracy between the owners and the customers to pretend they're NOT crappy, because you know you can't afford Lalique originals, but you want to think there's at least some quality in what you're buying in those markets. Look what happened when Ratner broke the covenant* - the business went down the pan in a week, but it was really no worse than the rest.

With the electronics stores, I think the fact that there's actually somebody to ask about shit is what keeps them going. They may not know much, but remember most of their customers know SFA.

*or our transatlantic friends, Gerald Ratner was CEO of a cheap 'n' nasty jewellery chain who stood up at a business dinner and made a speech slagging off his own product for the rubbish it was. They were bankrupt almost overnight.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 6:26 AM
horizontal rule
48

IKEA


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 6:27 AM
horizontal rule
49

My alarm is clock is also 20+ years old, and I remember going to buy it at Service Merchandise with my mother. Weird. I wonder if we have the same model.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 6:45 AM
horizontal rule
50

In seventh grade I used the combined Christmas money from my two sets of grandparents to buy an opal ring at Service Merchandise. I wonder what ever happened to that ring.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 6:54 AM
horizontal rule
51

I remember a Service Merchandise in Hartsdale, NY. Did they all also have big jewelry departments, or just this one? We didn't but too much there, it was right near a cheaper competitor, Crazy Eddie's, which I think was a local NY chain (our prices are... IN-SANE!) Eddie ended up in jail for tax fraud, I believe.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 6:59 AM
horizontal rule
52

For those of you who didn't grow up in the NY area, the Crazy Eddie commercials were teh awesome.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 7:00 AM
horizontal rule
53

This batch is even better- such production values!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 7:03 AM
horizontal rule
54

the Crazy Eddie commercials were teh awesome.

And Eddie's fugitive flight to Israel, subsequent arrest in Tel Aviv for fraud and racketeering, and prosecution by Michael Chertoff makes whole the story even better in retrospect.

Across the street from my favorite Indian restaurant, there's a huge, rotting, Service Merchandise building. It's such a great piece of urban decay.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 7:40 AM
horizontal rule
55

A friend of mine lived over a Crazy Eddie-ripoff store called Meshuggina Ike's, back in high school. This made me very happy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 7:53 AM
horizontal rule
56

Meshuggina Ike's

His prices are ... verkakte!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
57

BTW, the architects for those BEST stores - we had one in Miami, more or less beside the Service Merchandise (no shit) - was SITE, James Wines' firm. They've been doing wacky and/or eco-stuff since the early 70s.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
58

I sort of want one of those yuppie new age alarm clocks that supposedly wakes you with gradually brightening "natural light."

But what I really want is a husband who doesn't require thirty-seven various kinds of loud beeps and alarm bells to get his ass out of bed.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 9:33 AM
horizontal rule
59

Hungry cats are the best alarm clocks.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 9:49 AM
horizontal rule
60

That's why Service Merchandise went out of business -- selling alarm clocks that you didn't have to replace.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
61

True! Except when everyone else in the family, including the cat, assumes that I am the designated waker-upper, even when I don't have to wake up and Mr. B. does, which is why all his freaking alarms are going off and cuing the cat that it's time for her to start clawing my face.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 9:56 AM
horizontal rule
62

Yeah, I'm the designated waker upper, too. Sucks.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
63

Hungry cats trying to wake you up are just testing whether you're still alive, so they know if it's ok to eat your corpse.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
64

No, they know it's ok to eat your corpse. Technically they are trying to find out whether your corpse exists or if it is still a live body.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
65

Ferrets are scarier than cats. As I recall, they burrow in. They're also some of the hungriest creatures in the world.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 10:08 AM
horizontal rule
66

Actually I'm pretty sure my cat's just trying to figure out if she's going to have a couple bites of cat food before she goes back to sleep on my face, or if she should just settle back down and wait an hour or two.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 10:10 AM
horizontal rule
67

Actually I'm pretty sure my cat's just trying to figure out if she's going to have a couple bites of cat food before she goes back to sleep on my face, or if she should just settle back down and wait an hour or two.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 10:17 AM
horizontal rule
68

61: get one of these and arrange it so it drives directly onto his face in the morning.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 10:26 AM
horizontal rule
69

Actually if she really *is* hungry, she'll bite my chin. Or sometimes the tip of my nose. Which is actually less annoying than the gentle little pulls at my lip and chin with her soft little paws, using only just a *little tiny bit* of claw for, you know, traction.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
70

Which is actually less annoying than the gentle little pulls at my lip and chin with her soft little paws, using only just a *little tiny bit* of claw for, you know, traction and you can taste the faint residue of kitty litter.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
71

No, she goes outside. We don't have a cat box. And the advantage of cats over dogs, you know, is that they wash their paws.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 10:39 AM
horizontal rule
72

B in 58: I sort of want one of those yuppie new age alarm clocks that supposedly wakes you with gradually brightening "natural light."

I have one of those; it really helps with seasonal affective disorder, but I still use an audio alarm when I really need to get up. Some of them come with built-in lamps while others plug into your own lamp. I have teh latter kind and use it with a floor lamp next to my bed. That way, the light shines over my head, so it's a bit more like having the sun wake me up from above. There are cheap do-it-yourself options, but for an out-of-the-box solution I recommend Apollo Health. Costco carries soem of their products at a discount. I've got their DayBreak Duo which includes a radio.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-15-08 2:12 PM
horizontal rule