Behind the Abt Curtain!
By reading this I’m confident that you know the store Abt. You may also know that we’re one of the largest independent single-store appliance and electronics retailers in the country. Our history on our site also breaks down how we were founded and who we’ve become. Here are 15 things we don’t talk about:
1) Bob Taylor and the Amazing Woodshop
Abt is a store that’s always changing. We’re always building. One thing about Abt is that we try and keep everything under one roof. We staff people that can sell, support, service & deliver everything we offer. Behind the curtain, we act the same way. We have our own maintenance shop (we call “the woodshop). This staff is made up of a crew skilled to fix or build just about anything in our store or on our grounds. To manage this team of skilled craftsmen, Bob Taylor sits at the helm. The woodshop he runs is second to none. There’s even a dedicated part of our warehouse that’s stocked like an aisle of building supplies store. There’s really nothing this department can’t do. They can take on just about any project. The strength of this department is almost as fascinating as the strength of Bob Taylor’s Arms. He has a glorious history of not only dominating any opponent in an arm wrestling competition, but most of these battles somehow have ended with some surface of glass shattering.
2) Cookie Time!
Visited Abt on a weekend? Hopefully it was after 11am and before 5pm. That’s the time frame that you’ll find fresh baked chocolate chip cookies we serve to our weekend shoppers. The secret ingredient you ask? We use only dough from Chicago’s own Poppies Bakeshop. For those of you not in the Chicago area, feel free to order yourself some cookies on www.poppiesbakeshop.com so you can have a Chicago treat to snack on whilst shopping abt.com
3) “The answer is always “YES” to any reasonable request”
Signs are all over our store. One of my favorite things about being an Abt employee is this saying. It’s a simple statement that sums up how we try to serve all our customers.
I came from big box retail and the corporate rules and red tape seemed endless.
As an Abt employee, there’s no more red tape. Our job is to take care of every customer following this simple motto.
4) Eye in the Sky
When you shop at Abt’s retail store, there is a usual flow of how the transaction works. After your sales person has helped you find the right product(s) and you’ve paid, you then head over to our merchandise pickup. Our Abt security department sees through the process of providing you what you’re taking home. Look up when you’ve reached this last stop and you’ll see a pair of eyes on the wall. The original build of this display caught your motion and looked at you wherever you moved. The eyes, by the way, are each made out of the guts of an old tube TV
Abt not only has eyes on what’s going on in the store. Beyond our front line of security, we have a dedicated financial crimes division. Since the late 90s, Abt’s financial crimes division has partnered with the FBI, Secret Service, State Police, Federal Postal inspectors and Chicago land Police departments to fight organized retail crimes and identity theft.
6) The Mighty Fleet
270 Abt Trucks deliver and service IL, WI, IN & MI. Monday through Saturday, we make over 1500 stops a day. I once needed to use a truck for a presentation and was instructed to walk around to the back of Abt where the Fleet Department lived. I had no idea we had a massive shop back there. 3 bays & 3 mechanics work here. From scheduled preventitve care to actually building new engines these guys keep us on the move.
7) Bon Voyage!
Between Abt.com and Abt’s retail store, over 5,000 packages are shipped out of our UPS department every day Monday thru Friday. Many products are kept in a secured cage about 200 feet away from the shipping department. These products last moments in Abts warehouse are a journey across the warehouse ceiling. A suspended conveyor belt transports these products to our shipping team. To ensure the product leaves happy, we let them enjoy a fun ride down a slide before they’re boxed up and shipped out.
8) Good Ole’ Walter
When Abt employee’s “Punch In,” we use our fingers. A brief confirmation from of our actions appears on the screen: “Walter is taking finger image.” Side by side fingerprint scanners know us by our digits. Punching in/out or going to lunch includes a brief visit with the amazing Walter.
9) Drop on in
For our customers that travel by parachute, we haven’t forgotten about you!
(just kidding. Please don’t attempt to parachute on Abt.)
Whether it’s a display to show off an amazing home theater, a dancing water fountain to gaze at while you’re debating over your next purchase or even the bathroom you may need to swing by, we leave no stone unturned. Dyson Airblades and marble everywhere makes this not just any bathroom. Every six months we even polish all the bathrooms marble.
11) Ooh that Smell
A couple times a year, you’ll walk into our store and it’ll hit you: that fresh new carpet smell. 27,000 square feet of carpet across our retail showroom has been replaced twice a year or more. It all happens over 1 night and when you walk in the next day you’ll know. Between the high foot traffic and Chicago weather, we like to keep things fresh.
12) The Sweater is better
Customer facing Abt employees usually sport a St. Croix 100% Merino wool sweater vest. Hand crafted in the USA and embroidered with our names, we try to look good for you. We’re also empowered to have a little fun with this. You’ll notice that most of us have a city and state embroidered beneath our names. Many of us stick to our home town or city we live in now. Some of us prefer to represent our Midwest identity with the city of Chicago instead of the suburb we may live in. Others like to spice it up. You just might have a salesman from the island Bora Bora or even the Bat Cave.
13) One Stop Shop
Buying a new TV at Abt and are local? Usually our sales staff brings this up but this is something you should know. Abt has a great relationship with Comcast. We’ve established this so you don’t have to worry about contacting them at all. We can handle your accounts necessary Comcast box upgrades when we deliver and setup your new TV. We’ve been doing this for years and have delivered setup and coordinated with Comcast thousands and thousands of HD Boxes & DVRs for our Abt customers. We even have a dedicated Comcast center, staffed by Comcast representatives, in our retail store.
14) The Employee Gym
Warehouse employees get together for soccer, multiple departments come together once a week for a 3 on 3 basketball game and there’s even a rope to climb here (warehouse employee Dominick Lazarra can whiz to the top better than anyone) Abt employees have access to this full out gym. Raquet ball and basketball courts are behind this picture with mens/womens locker rooms between. A couple of times a year we’ve got 30 guys out for a 3-point shootout competition to benefit the ‘for autistic kids foundation.’ Its all very impressive. Speaking of impressive…Ricky Abt benches 425lbs!
15) Retention pond? I think not!
Salesman Lenny Szulc (World Championship Musky fisherman and current Bass Pro Shop ProStaff) and Abt’s Director of Operations, Bob Taylor, made this 2 acre retention pond behind Abt a home for over 5,000 fish. A while back, Lenny contacted the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to get the ball rollin’. The thousands of fish are a combination of Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish & Bluegill. Don’t worry; they didn’t just throw in the fish. They added sand in certain areas to promote spawning and they even built and installed artificial reefs throughout the pond.