What Makes Abt Electronics A 'Destination'
Even if you're
not shopping for TVs or stoves, Chicago-area Abt is a great place to chill
out with the family.
July 28, 2010
Earlier this year,
the Consumer Electronics Association delivered some bad news for specialty
retailers: Their stores aren't fun.
Obviously, the respondents
in CEA's survey had never been to Abt Electronics.
store makes a great destination for abstract art aficionados, exotic fish
lovers, coffee snobs, kids of all ages, even brides and grooms -- several
of which have been married in Abt's sunny atrium surrounded by a fountain
Oh, yes, there's a
stunning array of electronics as well.
"We're the Bellagio
of the industry," says co-president Mike Abt.
All this fun packed
into one sprawling place is a big reason why Abt isn't just a A/V shop.
It's a destination.
You'll find plenty of it at Abt, like the electronic eyes that stare at
you when you enter the store. "It has nothing to do with anything, other
than it's entertaining," says Mike Abt.
If you're a member of the local Young Presidents' Organization, you better
hope your next meeting is at Abt.
Once, Mike Abt had
the forklift operators build a giant maze out of boxes. All of the YPO
members managed to find their way out.
Even for store employees, Abt is a great place to hang out, thanks to
a well-endowed gym on the campus - free to all employees.
On Sundays, Abt makes cookies in its full-functioning kitchen. Kids can
play with virtual butterflies projected on a huge screen, or take a turn
in the giant bubble machine. Plus, you'll find lots of itty-bitty home
theater chairs for the kiddos.
For Cool Kids
The teens may be too cool for the bubble machine, but they'll never outgrow
Abt's monstrous big-screen playground, where a giant Sony 4K Cinealta
projector delivers better-than-cinema quality, and an Alienware gaming
PC powers the store's flight simulator.
It's not exactly Chicago's famed Shedd Aquarium, but Abt's 7,500-gallon
fish tank is quite a marvel. If you're lucky, you'll catch a diver in
a wetsuit twice a week going down to clean the tank. Watch him dodge the
Moray eels, a 2.5-foot Leopard Shark and an assortment of other meat eating
fish such as puffers and triggers.
During those harsh Chicago winters, you can bask in the atrium under the
warm sun, surrounded by a fountain and gardens. Or get married there.
Next door to the big store is a restaurant owned by Abt. It's not so much
that the place makes money, but the area needed a restaurant so Abt built
one. The place is just one more reason to spend the day at Abt's.
Abt is a celebrity magnet! You can tell by the stars that leave their
mark on Abt's wall of fame. Mike Abt himself is a local celeb. Four years
after his last commercial aired, people still stop him in the street:
"Hey, you're that guy."
One big advantage of a giant, custom-oriented shop is that you can watch,
listen and touch. "People come here from 100 miles away because they're
gonna get a great demo," Abt says.