Thousands of people come through Abt every week for a variety of reasons. Most (we hope!) come with an intent to buy, some come to research a future purchase, and others come just to hang out. We like to think Abt is a pretty cool place to spend some time, especially on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when there’s fresh cookies baking in the atrium and Chicago sports on all the big screens. We also get a lot of out-of-towners, who may have heard about us from friends in the area or from our growing online presence. Today, we proudly hosted a large group of visitors from, literally, the other side of the planet.
Two dozen men and women from Singapore stopped by Abt to learn about what makes us unique, and how we have been able to succeed in a business that regularly destroys independent outlets, not to mention national chains. Members of the group were professionals from a variety of retail industries in Singapore: audio/visual equipment, sporting goods and fashion, online payment and more. One of Singapore’s major Telecom companies, M1, had a pair of representatives on hand. Along with those from the retail world were a group of officials from The Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board of Singapore (also known as SPRING Singapore). Spring Singapore operates under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and is tasked with helping Singaporean businesses grow, both within the country and internationally. As this group toured the USA, they stopped at successful American establishments to learn what makes them tick. Abt was more than happy to host them for some shop talk.
After an extensive tour of the sales floor and the inner-workings of Abt, the group gathered in the conference room for a Q&A session with Billy Abt. Most of their questions dealt with the pressures of staying competitive in this business, as well as how we keep Abt a place that both customers and employees want to return to, day after day. While our guests do business a half a world away, the same basic things are required for a business in Singapore as for one in Glenview: Always try to be the best at what you do, help the customer in any way possible, and hire good people. Those three components, Billy said, are the key to Abt’s success, and the foundation for anyone who wants to be successful in the retail industry, and beyond.
There was a lot of great dialogue at the Q&A session, and it really emphasized how similar we all are, as regular people and industry brethren. While some of our guests seemed eager to continue business banter all night, we had to end the meeting with enough time for our guests to make it to the airport for the next leg of their trip, New York City. But not before they got a chance to do some shopping. We wish our new friends the best of luck in travels, business and life.