It’s hard to believe, but another year is in the books! 2018 was a big year for us, with some major changes to the store, a steady march of engaging events, and countless goodies delivered to customers across the country. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights of the year.
Hello AON, Goodbye AON
The biggest story of 2018 is the story of us getting bigger. Just before the end of 2017, Abt aquired 31 ½ acres of abutting land and the building which stood on it, which had until recently been offices for Aon (before that was the global headquarters for Zenith Electronics). The purchase was a strategic decision that would give us room to grow for the foreseeable future and beyond. In September, demolition began on the building, and earlier this month the last of the building came down. The current plans for the space aren’t fully decided, but will include a supplemental warehouse, so we can keep adding more great products to our inventory and get them to our customers quicker.
The Cave Opens
Our ever-evolving atrium added a new showroom: The Cave. Packed with a collection of games—both analog and digital—and other high-tech entertainment gear, The Cave is the place to find inspiration for building a space in your home that you’ll never want to leave. Stop by to try your hand at air hockey, foosball, pool, or pinball. Catch the game (or four of them at once) on the massive 98-inch 4K LED display.
Too Many Cooks? No Such Thing.
When we built the Inspiration Studio, we hoped it would be not just a fancy showroom, but a place where customers could try out the appliances and perhaps even watch as professionals performed on them. We were happy to achieve that goal this year, as the Inspiration Studio played host to dozens of cooking demonstrations. Our guest hosts came from a variety of backgrounds, and included well-known Chicago chefs like Jimmy Bannos of Heaven on Seven, Jason Hammel of Lula Cafe, and Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio. These events all proved to be immensely popular with our customers, and it’s a trend we’re excited to continue in 2019!
Tesla Supercharger Station
It’s no secret that we’re passionate about making our business as environmentally-friendly as possible. Earlier this year, we took a significant step towards helping our customers maintain their green habits, with the installation of a Tesla Supercharger station. The station, located in the parking lot between Abt and the Design Center, sports ten Superchargers, giving our Tesla-driving customers (or any Tesla drivers) a convenient spot to recharge.
Control4 Room Revamp
Smart home products continue to explode in popularity, and it was clear that we needed a dedicated space on the showroom floor that could properly show off their capabilities. Our new Control4 room integrates variety of smart products and an Amazon Alexa system into one space in a way that mirrors exactly how they might be used in your own home. Walk into the showroom and give Alexa commands to fire up Netflix, turn down the lights, and even close the shades.
Charity Chili Challenge
In addition to the regular demonstrations, we wanted to utilize the Inspiration Studio for something big. That desire led to the first ever Abt Charity Chili Challenge. We invited three well-known area chefs to Abt to square off in an old-fashioned Chili Cookoff. Celebrity judges picked a winner, and that chef won $5000 towards a charity of their choice. It was a rousing success with nearly 200 people attending, and just a great way to spend a chilly winter evening.
A big thanks goes out to everyone who chose Abt in 2018 and helped make it one of our best years ever. We’re looking forward to what 2019 comes, and wish everyone a Happy New Year!