When you walked in you were given a slip of paper for which you would write down the catalog number for the item you wanted to purchase. When you were done walking around and writing down the numbers of what you wanted to buy and were ready to checkout you gave the cashier the slip, which would go back to the stock room and shortly afterward, your items were rolled out on a conveyor belt from the back. Service Merchandise also had a variety of self-serve products.
Service Merchandise was well known for its jewelery and electronics.
The chain went bankrupt in 2002. After re-emerging as an online retailer for a brief time, the name disappeared again in 2007.