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Abt Taking Locks Off Its Apple Merchandise With An In-Store Boutique

By Becky Yerak

Published July 5, 2005

A Glenview-based electronics retailer is polishing up the department selling Apple Computer Inc. gizmos and gadgets.

Abt Electronics expects this week to open an Apple boutique within its 65,000-square-foot Glenview store.

The family-owned retailer has been selling iPods for a couple of years, albeit merchandised under lock and key through a case amounting to about 15 feet of space.

Now the retailer is devoting 1,000 square feet not only to the music players but also to a full line of Apple computers, software and accessories that shoppers can try out.

The iPods "sold great behind the case, but now they're there to feel and touch," said President Mike Abt.

The store-within-a-store, manned by Abt employees dedicated to the Apple brand, also includes a mini-auditorium training center for software and operating system tutorials, bringing the department's entire footprint to 1,500 square feet.

Abt currently has one store-within-a-store concept in Glenview. It's devoted to Bang & Olufsen, a Danish maker of high-end TVs and stereos.

In September, Abt expects to open two more store-within-a-store concepts: a department for Sony products and a "living kitchen" for Sub-Zero appliances.

"Manufacturers more than ever want to open their own stores," Abt said.

Displaced to make room for Abt's Apple expansion was an office area and some home-theater vignettes. Abt, founded in 1936, has a total of 350,000 square feet in Glenview, including offices and a warehouse.

Apple's store division recently was named one of the nation's five hottest retailers in a survey conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

© 2005, Chicago Tribune

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