|Marvell Mills, 1951. From UDSH.|
Mrs. Marvell Tanner Mills had worked several years at ZCMI selling appliances. She was the first woman west of the Mississippi to be awarded membership in the Bendix Corporation’s “Men of the Year Club” for her sales achievements.
In Dec 1951 she opened her own home appliance store named “Marvell’s” located in the newly built Bettilyon Building at 215 E 300 South SLC. (The last organization to occupy this space was Utah Dine Bikeyah - Protect Bears Ears).
Marvell’s sold all sorts of home appliances but specialized in the new style of upright freezers. Along with Mrs Thora Pearce, Marvell’s introduced the concept of Freezer Food Plans to Utah.
Freezer Food Plans became quite popular in the 1950s and 1960s and were a way to bundle the purchase of a home freezer and frozen food in a monthly bill. (The plans were also fraught with hidden fees and sometimes outright fraud.) The frozen food was delivered weekly and included a variety of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits.
Marvell’s freezer and food plan bundles cost between $41.90-$59.03 per month (~$430-$605 per month in 2021 dollars).
In March 1952, two competitors to Marvell’s freezer and food plans opened in SLC. Thora created her own food plan company, the Thora Pearce Company, and set up her own shop in Sugar House. And ZCMI began selling their own Home Freezer Food Plan.
Soon after, many other SLC companies started offering their own versions of frozen foods subscription services. Marvell’s closed in 1953.
Sources: Des News 1951-11-10; SL Trib 1951-12-11; SL Telegram 1952-03-21; Des News 1952-03-24; SL Trib 1953-05-16; Daily Herald 1965-10-14