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Betcha Didn’t Know: 85 Fun Facts About Abt

September, 2021

  1. Abt was founded by Dave and Jewel Abt. Jewel saved $800 and started a radio store in 1936. It is still owned 100% by the Abt Family.
  2. Half of Abt's customers pronounce the store's name as "A.B.T.," but it is a family name that was not shortened.
  3. Abt is the world’s largest single-store appliance and electronic retailer.
  4. The Abt lightning logo was invented by David Abt. David took a course at the Art Institute and was an avid artist. Some say Abt had the lightning bolt logo before Zenith, who copied it from Abt. However, it is not certain who created it first.
  5. David Abt loved to be a showman and would stand on his head in the store on products and appliance boxes.
  6. During the Chicago riots in 1968, David kept a gun hidden in the wall near the cash register. He also practiced firing in a cement basement of the small store that was then located in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood—the walls were full of bullet holes from the bullets that ricocheted around.
  7. Second generation Bob Abt's philosophy is “The answer is always yes to any reasonable request.”
  8. Jewel Abt was 90 years old when she was charged with assault by the Morton Grove police for asking a customer to calm down. The customer was trying to return a four-year-old boom box that was out of warranty for three years.
  9. Jewel celebrated her 95th birthday on November 29, 2001 at her favorite place: the store.
  10. The third generation of Abts —Mike, Ricky, Jon, Billy— joined the business in the 1980s to 1990s. They share the title of Co-President and were required to work outside of the family business prior to joining full-time.
  11. The City of Chicago dedicated the corner of Wolfram Road and Milwaukee Avenue in 2005 to "Jewel & David Abt Way."
  12. David and Jewel Abt were inducted into the CEA Hall of Fame in 2008 along with Dr. Fritz Sennheiser founder of Sennheiser, Eddy Hartenstein founder of DirecTV, and Martin Cooper and Donald Linder co-inventors of the cell phone that year.
  13. Five of David and Jewel's great-grandchildren (the fourth generation) are now working at the store.
  14. Abt has out-lived many other established electronics and appliance companies including Sears, HH Gregg Appliances, Art Van Furniture, Polk Brothers, Bruno’s, Douglas TV, Silo-Fretter, Playback, Plass Appliances, Highland Superstore, United Audio, North Shore Refrigerators, Contractor Supply, Great Indoors Home, Music Craft,Townhouse, Wolfsons, Pacific Stereo, Columbia AV, Tweeter, Video King, Wards, Calumet and Grants.
  15. Abt's biggest revenue day was in 2010 for over $10,000,000 when the State of Illinois offered an appliance rebate.
  16. Abt spends under 2% of their sales for advertising in order to keep prices low for customers. Word-of-mouth has been the best advertising. Over 90% are return customers.
  17. Abt has never acquired another business and has only grown organically.
  18. The company has ventured into non-consumer electronics and appliance categories such as mattresses, HVAC, home security, furniture, watches, jewelry, exercise and fitness, Brunswick pool tables, Air Hockey tables, Dartboards and other gaming furniture.
  19. In 2012, Abt had over 1.1 million visitors to the store, making it one of the North Shore's top tourist attractions. Abt's website averaged 1.2 million unique visitors per month that year.
  20. Abt has never had an employee layoff
  21. Abt’s number of transactions for 2020 were 890,748.
  22. Today, Abt has on hand inventory for 15,771 different SKU’s totaling 626,448 items in store stock.
  23. Today's most expensive items for sale: • Speakers - MartinLogan NEOSBDLRF/ NEOSBDRRF - sold as a pair but written separately - $49,999.98 each • Tempur-Pedic-Luxe Breeze Firm King Mattress (10244170) and two of Tempur-Pedic Ergo Extend XL Smart Base with Sleep Tracker (255731200 = $9697. • Abt has sold showroom vehicles in the past, including a $115,000 Porsche Panamera, several BMW’s, a Mercedes and a Maserati to name a few.
  24. Abt did a car audio job valued at $104,000 on a Ford F-650 truck. It took three months and had custom panels, grills and 14 TV monitors.
  25. The most popular electronic category sold today is tablets, specifically the iPad, while refrigerators are the number one selling appliance.
  26. Merchandisers and buyers use real-time pricing software to ensure Abt's pricing is competitive.
  27. The store is able to ship 99% of the products it sells.
  28. Abt has its own fleet of 500 trucks and vans for deliveries, installations, service, and does not partner with any other company. There is also an on-site truck wash, gas station, and service department.
  29. During the Chicago riots of 2020, Abt barricaded the property with 17 semi-trucks as a precaution without incident.
  30. In 2020, a new app was introduced to customers to track their deliveries through their phone. Drivers also send a courtesy text while on the way to the customers home.
  31. The Abt logo can be seen on the roof of the truck and van fleet and the store.
  32. Bob Abt received many of the store ideas like the fish tank, changing the carpeting often and the employee names and cities on their sweaters from Steve Wynn and his hotels in Las Vegas.
  33. If you see a pink Abt logo on the side of a truck instead of the blue Abt logo, this is not a mistake. Abt has two trucks emblazoned with a pink logo belonging to their two on-the-road female service technicians.
  34. Abt has never been closed when it was scheduled to be open except for one day in 1985 when a fire started inside the store and one day in 2012 for a blizzard.
  35. The store is in its fifth location in Glenview, IL. Past stores were in Chicago, IL; Niles, IL and Morton Grove, IL.
  36. For seven years in the 1970s, Abt had two locations open at once. One was in Niles and one in Logan Square.
  37. In the Niles location, Abt labeled their refrigerator boxes on top instead of on the side like today. Employees had to crawl on the boxes and move them daily from the basement to the first floor because there was no room for aisles.
  38. The Glenview campus covers 37 acres and includes a Recycling Center and Design Center which both opened in 2008.
  39. There is a pond behind the store where people are able to fish for catfish, bluegill and bass. During Abt’s 2015 company picnic, employees caught hundreds of fish. The pond is currently at two acres but will be expanded to five acres with the coming renovations.
  40. Abt has three Private Sales a year, however, due to Covid, this tradition has stopped for the time being.
  41. Abt has 24-hour security at the store.
  42. The company first expanded outside of Chicagoland in 1997 with their website, one of the first to be an authorized online retailer for Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Bose and Onkyo.
  43. The campus houses an employee gym equipped with a basketball court, racquetball court, professional cardio and weight training machines, locker room and showers along with a men’s and women's steam room.
  44. In 2020, Abt added garage doors to its list of specialties.
  45. The Atrium at Abt was designed to look like the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas with granite and marble boutique stores and a dancing water fountain.
  46. The Atrium at Abt features a store-within-a-store concept with boutiques for Apple, Bose, Tumi, Sub-Zero & Wolf, Thermador, Viking, Bowers & Wilkins products and Abt's own Gourmet Shop.
  47. The plants in the Atrium are updated every other week by a local garden nursery. When possible, the discarded flowers are sent to local nursing homes and hospitals.
  48. The Abt showroom in 1970 was 2,000 feet and grew to 114,000 today. In 2016, a second-floor addition of approximately 18,031 feet was added. Our Inspiration Studio Showroom houses Designer kitchens appliances, furniture, art work, area rugs and mattresses.
  49. Third generation and co-president Mike Abt ran the Olympic Torch in Luton, England for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The torch is currently on display at the store.
  50. Ten Abt employees perform "The Walk" nightly to ensure the showroom is detailed and ready for business the next day.
  51. The store has the only plasma windmill made by Panasonic in the world that spins around and is programmed in Japanese. Bob Abt saw it displayed at Panasonic's booth at the 2002 CES, and it was sold to Abt. The Plasma was later changed to an LCD Samsung.
  52. The store showcases a floating Kugel granite globe ball made in Aicha, Germany that weighs 2.7 tons and can be spun by a child. It is one of 90 in the world.
  53. Abt has a 7,500-gallon fish tank that was built in 2003, and is the largest privately-owned aquarium in Illinois.
  54. There is an on-site woodworking shop, which allows the store to build its own displays and has sixteen employees.
  55. To combat shoplifting, Abt has extensive camera systems with over 300 HD cameras, security staffers and its own fraud investigators who regularly work with the local police and government agencies.
  56. The store has been a backdrop for wedding proposals, wedding receptions and prom pictures. Dozens of Abt employees have met and married their significant others at Abt.
  57. Abt has become a testing ground for many manufactures who like to have their product brought out on a smaller scale before bringing it to the mass market. Whirlpool's 6ths Sense appliances, Bang & Olufsen TVs, and LG's 100" Hecto Laser TV are a few.
  58. On busy shopping days, employees park off-campus and are shuttled in, freeing up the Glenview store's 1,100 parking spaces.
  59. Abt strives to leave a small environmental footprint on our planet. Having an onsite recycling center as well as energy saving windmills and solar panels is just a fraction of the steps Abt takes to leave this world healthy for generations to come. Abt takes in wood pallets, old electronics, appliances, cardboard, batteries, Styrofoam and materials brought in by customers. Annually, the Abt recycling center saves 3.5 million pounds of cardboard and paper from going to the local dump, over 240,000 pounds of Styrofoam from going to the landfill, and over 10 million pounds of appliances and 3 million pounds of electronics from ending up in the garbage each year.
  60. The average monthly electric bill in the store is approximately $11,000. There are two natural gas co-generators that can produce up to 1.6 megawatts per hour, which allows the store to be off the power grid during the day.
  61. Abt employs over 1,700 people, all located in the Glenview store. Staff members range from 16 to 80 years old.
  62. In 2015, Abt added approximately 93,000 feet to its warehouse which includes office space.
  63. Wally Mulinski and John Pacion retired in 1990 after a 54-year career at Abt. Both men started in 1936 and held numerous positions. There are currently more than 60 employees that have been with Abt for more than 20 years. The longest-tenured non-family member was Terry Forrest, who worked at Abt for 53 years. He started on the trucks in 1967 and retired in late 2020, but is still a great ambassador for the company. Select retired employees have their vests framed and hung in the store's Wall of Fame.
  64. Abt has its own candy store and sold over 10,000 pounds of candy in 2020.
  65. Abt’s current vice president was a golf caddy for Bob Abt before joining the company in 1984.
  66. Abt has customers from all around the world. We speak a variety of languages including Arabic, Russian, Polish, Korean, Spanish, Hebrew, Serbian, Hindi, Tagalog, Tamil, Ukrainian, Italian, Lithuanian, Greek, French and Assyrian. There is a wall displaying Flags from different countries.
  67. One employee travels 150 miles or 2.5 hours each way to get to work.
  68. In 2017, Abt acquired an additional 31 ½ acres of land, helping to secure Glenview as Abt’s home for many years to come.
  69. Abt sponsors different sporting teams for its employees including ice hockey, football, soccer, softball and bowling.
  70. The Chicago Tribune asked a large number of employees to rate their workplace and then ranked the companies based on their responses. In 2020, Abt was recognized by Chicago’s Tribune as one of “Chicago’s Top Workplaces.”
  71. In 2013, Abt created a wellness program for its employees, with over 80% of the staff participating.
  72. The Abt Family established the For Autistic Kids Foundation in 2001 to raise funds to broaden the public awareness and understanding of autism and for the research for the early detection, prevention, treatment and cure to benefit children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders.
  73. Coins collected from the fountain in the Atrium are donated to the For Autistic Kids Foundation.
  74. Jennifer Hudson performed at the Abt Holiday Party in 2006 prior to her movie "Dreamgirls" being released. Hailey Reinhart, the 2011 American Idol 2nd Runner Up, performed at the 2011 Holiday Party, and the winner of Season five of “The Voice” Tessanne Chin performed at the 2014 and 2015 Holiday Party.
  75. Abt previously owned a restaurant connected to the store called "Jolane's Restaurant & Bar." It was named after Jewel "Jolane" Abt. The restaurant closed during COVID after 12 great years (2008-2020).
  76. Abt bakes over 288,000 chocolate chip cookies in their Atrium each year for customers on the weekends. This tradition has taken a brief break due to Covid safety regulations but will resume July 1, 2021.
  77. Each year, the employees hold an “Outreach” program, raising thousands of dollars to help needy families during the holidays.
  78. Abt owns 5 trailers and rents 7 from General Iron-4 semi-tractor trailers. They are used to take products from Abt to Recyclers.
  79. Sadly, Bob Abt passed away in the summer of 2015. It was his leadership that led the company to be one of the most unique service-oriented retailers in the world. Over 1,300 people attended his funeral, but he did not want the sermon to go on any longer than thirty minutes.
  80. Abt has no board directors or budgets. The company is privately owned by the family.
  81. Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, Abt has fielded over 40,000 same-day and next-day deliveries.
  82. During COVID, Abt reduced its hours but never closed; the store kept its doors open as an essential business.
  83. Abt has ranked in Consumer Reports’ exclusive member survey 11 years in a row and was ranked #1 for the best shopping experience for large and small appliances in 2020.
  84. Abt’s call centers average around 50,000 incoming phone calls per month.
  85. Abt truly is a family business with many employees working with their own relatives on a daily basis.