Service Merchandise goes online

Service Merchandise is re-inventing itself as an on-line retailer. The Boca Raton-based company has created a business model that allows manufacturers and other vendors to act as its partners.

The Web site (www.servicemerchandise.com) offers a selection of affordable quality jewelry, and also home and garden products, toys, and small appliances, the company said in a press release. The company says it selects the vendors carefully. “Only those offering a high-quality product at a reasonable price are allowed to become part of the program.” The company adds that its Web site gives manufacturers the ability to showcase their products without a large financial commitment.

Service Merchandise was founded by Harry and Mary Zimmerman and their son, Raymond, in 1934. The company went bankrupt in 1999 and ceased operation in 2002. In its heyday, it operated 413 stores and $4 billion in revenues.

“Service Merchandise has a heritage and tradition of innovation and creativity in the retailing world, all of which gives consumers and our vendor partners a sense of comfort,” said Raymond Zimmerman, who is now the company’s chairman. “It is only natural that we would channel that expertise into an aggressive and unique business opportunity.”

With online jewelry sales charting steady growth and reaching $33 billion in the first quarter of 2004, Service Merchandise says it wants to be part of the growing market segment.