Glenview, Ill. — Founded as a radio store by Jewel and David Abt in 1936, Abt Electronics & Appliances has evolved from a modest Logan Square storefront to a 350,000-square-foot showroom and warehouse facility that sits on 29 acres in the Chicago suburb of Glenview, Ill.
Along the way, the family-held business has become beloved and admired by vendors, fellow merchants and generations of loyal Chicagoans alike — a rare feat in CE retail — while steadily growing annual sales 10 percent on average.
Abt’s recipe for success is simple, if challenging: Provide expert sales advice, competitive prices, hassle-free returns, free shipping and unparalleled customer service. Indeed, as president Mike Abt noted, “Our attitude is take care of the customer no matter what it costs.”
Manufacturers also enjoy doing business with the former NATM and current PRO Group dealer. “We don’t push vendors around,” Abt said. “We pay our bills on time, we don’t have huge demands for advertising or floor models, and we don’t return damaged goods until we’ve tried to fix them three times ourselves.”
That philosophy has garnered the company myriad honors for its business practices, including the Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics from the Better Business Bureau; Loyola University’s Illinois Family Business of the Year award; and Retailer of the Year, Retailers To Watch and now Excellence in Retailing citations from TWICE. — Alan Wolf
The Nominees: Best Independent Retailer
Bjorn’s Audio Video Home Theater
Shaefer’s TV & Appliance