Today’s phone comes paired against a beautiful red wall at the local TJ Maxx in downtown Chicago. It’s an older version Meridian M7208 phone, but looks pretty good contrasted against the red wall. This is a common phone at most TJ Maxx stores. They began upgrading to the Meridian Norstar systems in 1989 soon after their conversion from the Zayre Corporation to the TJX Companies….as their Zayre stores were sold off to Ames in 1989.
A little history of what TJ Maxx used in their discount stores (from my memory of having shopped there most of my life and the memories visiting their stores with my Mom and Dad).
Before TJX, I remember that the Zayre stores used extremely primitive telephones and intercoms in their stores. I believe I remember seeing black rotary phones with single line intercom phones next to it. It was very old. The newer Zayre stores opened in the mid 80s did switch to the TIE Meritor key system sets/intercom. See the photo below I borrowed from the wonderful blog “Pleasant Family Shopping” showing a 1970s Sporting Goods area at Zayre. Notice the yellow circle where I pointed out these phones. These were indeed milked to the very end in the late 1980’s. It probably was the basis of why 1A2 and Aiphone intercoms (more modern at the time) were used in the newer 1977 TJ Maxx stores.
The Intercom phone is on the left while the 1A2 rotary outside line phone is on the right. This was very common practice in retail stores for years, until the Mid 1980s when key systems and sometimes even PBX systems were introduced in retail stores.
1977 to 1984: 1A2 key systems with intercom provided separate Aiphone 12 button Intercom phones (annoying boing chime and tinny voice quality when a page was made)
1984-1985: 1A2 key system with integrated intercom/page feature built into the Western Electric 1A2 sets (as observed at the original Naperville (Naper Plaza) store built in 1984)
1986-1989: Nitsuko TIE TCX 86078 HX Meritor 28 Button Key Speakerphones at the Service Desk, single line Meritor sets on the sales floor, and black ATT trim line analog phones at the checkouts. A soothing busy signal tone preceded the paging announcements. Phone shown below:
1989-1994: The introduction of Norstar Meridian Phones during the Northern Telecom Norstar installation blitz throughout the world. The phone shown in the red wall picture was used as their sales floor phones, while M7310 were used at the Service Desk. Analog Symphony Nortel phones were used at the registers with rather expensive Norstar ATA’s attached to the KSU for each register. This was remedied when the M7100 digital sets was introduced in 1993.
1994-2002: Nortel Meridian M7000 series phones were used in all TJX stores which also included Marshall’s now. Grey phones were used at TJ Maxx stores while Black were used in Marshall’s stores. M7100 digital phones were installed at the checkouts instead of the costly and laborious operations of the analog phones with ATA.
2002-Present: Nortel Meridian T7000 phones were introduced and the Charcoal color was used for all TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, AJ Wright, TK Maxx, and Winners.
Future? Hopefully they will discover that they can keep their Nortel Phones and they will purchase E-Metrotel UCx50’s and tie all of their stores together via SIP trunks with the UCx.
Here is the Meridian Phone I saw last Friday at TJ Maxx State Street Chicago: