Chicago - The Windy City is heating up as hhgregg begins an expected 23-store build out and TigerDirect opens its first two showrooms in that market.
The former has begun recruiting for a new 247,000-square-foot regional distribution center that will serve new stores in Chicago and Indiana.
The multiregional CE and majap chain is expected to begin staffing up for its Chicago-area stores in June in advance of scheduled fall openings. The showrooms will be located in former Circuit City, Linens 'n Things and Wickes Furniture storefronts, and will comprise about 11 percent of the chain, making Chicago the company's largest market.
More immediately, hhgregg is entering the Pittsburgh and Miami markets this spring as part of its planned 35- to 45-store expansion this year. It currently operates 173 stores from Florida to New Jersey and as far west as Kentucky.
Meanwhile, Systemax subsidiary TigerDirect is opening its first two Chicago stores this week, in Midtown and Vernon Hills, Ill. The stores join three existent CompUSA locations in nearby Hoffman Estates, Naperville and Orland Park, as the company continues to consider its storefront branding strategy.
The new locations are Retail 2.0 models, which provide Internet access through every display screen in the showroom - including laptops, desktops and HDTVs - to provide customers with product specs, reviews, price comparisons and inventory availability.
The stores are also being outfitted with Systemax's new TigerConnect centers, a dedicated 500-square-foot mobile area featuring post-paid carrier phones, pre-paid phones, unlocked phones, tablets, netbooks, service plans, and accessories.
The 25,000-square-foot Vernon Hills store also features a separate 8,000-square-foot business-to-business call center.