Abt expands single store empire
When merchants think of building retail empires they typically envision opening location after location across wide geographic areas. Abt Electronics and Appliances has taken a different approach. It simply continues to expand its already significant presence (37 acres) on the same campus in Glenview, Il.
Abt, which was founded in 1936 when David Abt took the $800 he was given by his wife, Jewel, to start the business, has grown to become the largest single-store appliance and electronics retailer in the country, employing roughly 1,100 people. Yesterday the company announced it had added an additional 93,000 square feet to its 200,000 square foot warehouse. Abt’s showroom is 100,000 square feet.
"In simple terms, we needed more space," said co-president Mike Abt in a statement. "With this warehouse expansion, our main goal is to service our customers in the best manner possible and allow us to be more efficient in all ways that we operate by providing expanded inventory, inventory space, resourceful delivery systems and more."
The new warehouse space with its 50-foot ceilings will have very narrow aisles to give staff the ability to store four-times the amount of product in the same space as before. Workers will be cruising the narrow aisles with new Crown TSP 7000 Turret Trucks that can reach 675 inches and are faster and more energy efficient that the vehicles used in the past. The facility will have 23 more outbound and five more incoming loading docks to speed up deliveries.
Abt is consistently among the highest ranked retailers for customer satisfaction. In November, Consumer Reports gave Abt top marks for customer service, checkout ease, product selection and quality. It was also rated above average for price and buying ease.
In a 2011 interview with Forbes, Abt’s other co-president, Jon Abt, said that the company experienced a drop in sales for the first time in its history during 2008 and 2009. "We turned it around by continuing to do what we do. There’s no magic formulate for reinventing ourselves; we’ve been doing this since 1936."
- History – Abt Electronics & Appliances
- Electronics Stores Ratings – Consumer Reports (sub. required)
- Abt Electronics vs. Best Buy: Why Independent Retailers Succeed Where Big Boxes Fail – Forbes
- Crown TSP 7000 Turret Truck – YouTube
How has Abt managed to succeed when so many other independent retailers have not? Would operating from a single large location be a competitive advantage or disadvantage for most click & brick retailers today?