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The official blog of Abt Electronics & Appliances

Archive for April, 2008

Abt—Where Space and Time Converge

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Are you crazy for space-related things? Do people consider you something of an astro-nut? Well, you don’t actually have to be crazy, but you should have lots of extra cash lying around if you’d like to possess this rare collection of commemorative Moon Mission watches from Omega, now on display in our Abt Time Boutique.

NASA watch


In 1997, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its legendary Speedmaster Professional, Omega produced a collection of 23 Speedmaster watches presented in a valise covered with genuine NASA spacesuit cloth. Omega’s Speedmaster chronograph was flight-qualified by NASA in 1965 for all manned space missions, the only watch that withstood all of NASA’s severe tests involving zero gravity, shocks, and extreme temperatures.

NASA watch display

Only 40 of these numbered sets were available for commercial sale, and the one at Abt is set number 9 in the series. The valise holds 22 stainless steel Speedmaster watches, and each one features a different official NASA mission patch on its dial, from the 1965 Gemini V to the 1973 Skylab SL-4. Included is the historic July 1969 Apollo 11 mission in which man first walked on the moon. The 23rd watch in the set is a replica of the original 1957 Speedmaster, and the valise also contains an original certificate, guarantee, instructions, and a book detailing the missions represented in the set.

NASA watch valise

As the first and only watch to have been worn on the moon, the Speedmaster has been nicknamed the Moon Watch. If you can part with $150,000, this unique collection can be yours—and you could be watching the moon with your Moon Watches in no time. —by Graham W.

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Bring Your Kids to Work Day at Abt

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Today was “Bring Your Kids to Work” day, and this year we gave things a new twist by adding an Earth Day theme to the event. This is the 11th year that Abt has organized a “Kids” day, and among the 15 activities planned throughout the morning and afternoon were a presentation from an environmentalist who brought along live animals, a “Make Your Own Green Bag” in our Atrium area, and a “Make Your Own Vegetable Planter” in our warehouse’s woodshop.

Kids at Abt 3

Kids at Abt 2

There also was a presentation on the “Importance of Recycling,” a demonstration of “Computer Techniques and How to Make a Mouse Pad” in our Apple store, basketball and dodgeball games in our Fitness Center, and much more. “We like to make sure the kids have lots of fun and lots of things to do,” said Abt customer service rep Cari Boyk, who organized the event. “Our scavenger hunt allowed the kids to visit our various departments and get things like cookies in our Gourmet Shop, globe key chains, stickers, buttons, hats, and coloring books.”

Kids at Abt 1

“We really enjoy doing something special for our employees and their kids,” said company president Jon Abt. “We are a family business, and we feel our employees are an extension of our family. It’s thrilling to have so many kids running around today, although it’s kind of hard to get any work done,” Jon added with a laugh. –by Graham W.

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New Comcast and DirecTV Booths

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

At Abt, we like to continuously upgrade our showroom with new displays and renovated areas to provide our customers with the best shopping experience. Both DirecTV and Comcast recently received upgrades, which you can see below.

DirecTV Abt booth

Comcast Abt booth

Offering the choice of cable or satellite TV in one convenient spot serves as a great example of what helps make Abt a unique, one-stop location for all of your electronic needs. Both DirecTV and Comcast have some of their own employees working within our store, and they can schedule service calls, new installations, or upgrades. Abt delivery people can even install satellite or cable boxes when you have your new TV delivered, making things extremely convenient since you won’t have to wait for the cable guy to come out after your set arrives. –by Graham W.

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Let Viking Take You On A Cooking Quest

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Would you be interested in attending what may be the most enjoyable school on earth, where even the homework is fun? That’s what the Viking Cooking School promises, and it’s conveniently located just south of our main building in our new Design Center. There are 15 Viking Cooking School locations throughout the U.S., and together they train more than 77,000 students each year.

Viking Cooking School 1

The school’s culinary program offers a variety of hands-on classes, demonstrations, guest chefs, and special events, as well as classes for kids and teens. Most classes are limited to 16 students so you can work closely with the instructor, learn the proper cooking techniques, and actually prepare the menu items yourself. You also get to use the finest high-performance Viking professional appliances, cookware, and cutlery, and there’s even a “Taste of Viking” one-hour class designed to give you a “taste” of how the cooking school works. The registration fee for this class is only $5.

Viking Cooking School 2

“Viking wanted a cooking school in the Chicago area, and with the opening of the Design Center, the timing was perfect for us to move in,” said Carrie Goodman, the school’s retail manager. “We held our first class just two days ago, and some of our upcoming events include a demonstration by guest chef Roland Mesnier, the former White House executive pastry chef, on May 17.”

Viking Cooking School 3

Besides the cooking instruction and the great food, students receive a post-class discount on merchandise and future classes. “Our classes even make a great Mother’s Day gift,” said Carrie. “A group of fathers from the same neighborhood called us and arranged for their wives to attend one of our Girls’ Night Out classes as a Mother’s Day present.” These classes feature cooking based on a particular theme, such as Girls’ Night Out: In Paris or Girls’ Night Out: In Honolulu.

by Graham W.

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Highlights From The Kitchen & Bath Show

Monday, April 14th, 2008

The 2008 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show & Conference, which ended yesterday at Chicago’s McCormick Place, brought together top manufacturers, distributors, retailers, designers, and other professionals for what’s billed as the world’s largest international trade event dedicated to the kitchen and bath industry. The keynote speaker for the event was Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, who talked about environmental sustainability and the effects it has on the kitchen and bath, housing, and shelter industries in a global community. More than 900 exhibitors and about 40,000 attendees participated in the four-day event, which showcases innovative ideas and trends in the kitchen and bath industries. “The hot thing is integration, making the products look more like furniture rather than appliances and making them easier to clean,” said Joe Klett, one of the Abt sales specialists who attended the show. “The manufacturers are really upbeat about their new products and the market in general.”

Sub-Zero wine cooler

Wine storage refrigerators featured at the show are perfect examples of appliances that resemble fine pieces of furniture, including the one pictured above made by Sub-Zero, which is currently available at Abt. Another furniture-inspired appliance from Sub-Zero is the refrigerator/freezer combination (below), which is six feet across and adds a touch of class to any décor.

Sub-Zero at Abt

Among the other innovative new products at the show were Thermador’s 30-inch five burner gas cooktop, which will be available in August, and a 36-inch wide cooling drawer from Fisher & Paykel, which functions as either a refrigerator, freezer, or wine storage compartment and can be set from zero to 40 degrees.

Fisher & Paykel cooktop

Another new Fisher & Paykel product on display at the show was this innovative gas cooktop (above), featuring burners that rise and descend from the glass surface at the touch of a button, making clean-up a breeze. This is the only cooktop currently available with this feature.

–by Graham W.

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TurboChef Hosts Abt at Charlie Trotter’s

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Several Abt employees had the chance to enjoy an incredible culinary experience last night at world-famous Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago, where they were the guests of executives from the TurboChef company, whose new line of wall ovens is now available at Abt. The dinner was organized to celebrate the beginning of the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show & Conference, being held now through Sunday at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

“It was an unbelievable experience,” said company president Jon Abt. “We first sat in Charlie Trotter’s PBS studio kitchen, which is right next to the restaurant, and Charlie spent an hour going through some of the dishes he was making for us using TurboChef ovens. There was a Q&A session, and Charlie explained all the great features of the ovens and how quickly they can cook food.”

Charlie Trotter & TurboChef

TurboChef ovens used to be manufactured only for use in the kitchens of commercial chefs, but the company’s new line was designed with input from hundreds of professional home chefs for residential use. These ovens use patented Airspeed Technology, which enables them to cook food up to15 times faster than conventional ovens.

“After Charlie’s presentation, we went upstairs into the dining room and had a 10 course meal and some excellent wine,” said Jon, still savoring the experience. Other members of the group included retailers from around the country, as well as TurboChef chairman Richard Perlman and TurboChef COO Paul P. Lehr.

by Graham W.

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Abt Receives Clean Air Award

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Abt’s environmentally friendly “green” initiatives continue to expand and gain more and more recognition, as recent articles in the Wall Street Journal and other publications attest to. This dedication to creating a cleaner environment has resulted in several honors, the latest being a “Partners for Clean Air” award, which will be presented at a brunch event on April 17.

Partners for Clean Air

Partners for Clean Air is a coalition of businesses, industries, community groups, and other organizations that are committed to improving air quality through voluntary actions. Abt was nominated for the award by a coalition member who learned about our company’s efforts to promote environmental responsibility, including the Abt Recycling Center. The coalition’s brunch event, held each spring, brings together business and organization leaders to help them learn about new ways to incorporate “green” practices into their everyday activities.

One of Abt’s newer “green” projects involves the installation of a windmill and an array of solar panels, which will be placed on our roof this spring. Company president Michael Abt estimates that it will take 15 years before the savings on our store’s energy bills will offset the initial cost of the project. “We don’t do everything just because of money,” says Michael. “The green thing is the right thing.” —by Graham W.

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Hall of Fame Honors Jewel and David Abt

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

The Consumer Electronics Association has announced that our store’s founders, the late Jewel and David Abt, have been inducted into the CE Hall of Fame, which “honors leaders whose significant contributions make the consumer electronics industry a vibrant, dynamic, and vital part of our nation and its economy.” The CEA is recognizing Jewel and David for having “founded Chicago’s Abt Electronics in 1936, one of the Midwest’s largest electronic retailers. This mom-and-pop store is still family owned and operated.”

Jewel, David, and Robert Abt

David, Robert, and Jewel Abt

The Hall of Fame inductees were announced Wednesday at the CEA’s Washington Forum conference. The CEA, with a membership of more than 2,200 companies, is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $161 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. The Abt’s will officially be inducted into the Hall of Fame during an awards dinner at the CEA’s Industry Forum in Las Vegas in October.

Jewel and David Abt married in 1934 and two years later opened a small electronics store in the Logan Square section of Chicago. Now located on 37 acres in the Chicago suburb of Glenview, Abt Electronics has grown into one of the most successful family businesses in the United States and currently has more than 1,000 employees. The recently opened Jölane’s Café & Wine Bar. located in Abt’s new Design Center just south of our main building, is another tribute to Jewel (Jölane) Abt, commemorating her many years of dedication to the store and her family, employees, and customers.

Abt old and new store

“This is a great honor for my parents,” said Robert Abt, the store’s current CEO. “My family and our employees are ecstatic about the announcement. This is a richly deserved tribute to all the great work my parents did to create this business and nurture its growth throughout the years. They would be so proud.”

For more Abt history and current store information, click here. –by Graham W.

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Taking Over The Tech

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Okay guys, put down your beer and pretzels, and listen up: Women are grabbing control of your HDTVs—and probably your gaming consoles and computers, too. A new study released by the Solutions Research Group has revealed that American women have taken the lead from men in such activities as streaming from network TV websites, frequent DVR (Digital Video Recorder) use, and casual gaming.

I know this might be hard for some men to believe, but data from the study shows that women are embracing technology more and more, with 15% of American women streaming TV shows from network TV sites in the past month, compared to only 11% of American men. Women have also taken over the household DVR, using it an average of 9.3 times per week compared to 8.3 times for men, while women with children watch 56% of their TV on a time-shifted basis, topping the 42% among male DVR owners. But to be fair to us men, a lot of our TV watching involves sports, and we want to see that stuff live, not after someone spoils it all by telling us the score before we’ve watched the recording.

Men are holding their lead in console gaming (like the PlayStation 3) with 50% having played a console game in the last month, but 38% of women can make the same claim, up 3% from last year’s figures. Women, however, have taken the lead in computer gaming, with 70% having played a PC game in the last month, compared with 69% of men.

Hang your heads in shame, gentlemen. Then grab another beer and drown your sorrows. –by Graham W.

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