We talk about “experiential retail” a lot these days. Well, look up that term and the Abt Electronics logo just might be there. Located in suburban Chicago, Abt is 82 years young. (For the record, Abt is the family name.) Abt is the largest single-store operator of electronics, appliances and home furnishings in the U.S. The store’s showroom floor exceeds 110,000 square feet, plus it features a mini-mall that is reminiscent of a Las Vegas casino shopping mall. If you read its history, Abt’s excellence is based on a commitment to delivering complete customer satisfaction, a highly trained and passionate staff, and dedication to fair pricing.

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  • Lifestyle vignettes aside, I was impressed with how effective Abt works with brands. In this case, you can see how Dyson has the opportunity to promote, display and educate shoppers in this alcove dedicated to its products.
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  • One of the very charming elements of the store was a good-sized area set aside as a museum. Long before we had Apple stores, this was one of the first products offered for sale by them in 1990: the desktop computer called the Apple Macintosh. Among other things on display were TVs dating back to the 1950s.
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  • If you are going to be a seller of the most impressive array of TVs I’ve ever seen, you might as well sell the best TV-watchin’ chairs available. Pictured here is only a fraction of the TVs large and small on display.
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  • If cooking is your game, there are more than 20 spectacular kitchen display areas complete with appliances, counters, seating and amenities – all for sale. Talk about inspiration for the perfect kitchen.
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  • Not every space in the store is lifestyle-oriented or even branded. If you are simply in the mode of identifying good, better and best as well as feature comparisons in your stove, refrigerator or washer/dryer, there is ample opportunity (as well an ample number of salespeople to help).
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  • The retailer’s mini-mall houses a Dylan’s Candy Bar shop for those seeking unique confectionery items. The Cave (in the background) is an Abt-owned “man cave” furnished with high-end pool tables, pingpong tables, air hockey, etc.
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  • Inspiration? I was tempted to tell Abt to send this entire ensemble to my home – TV, furniture, fireplace and artwork, which were all for sale.
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  • Here is the “world’s largest” Pac-Man game, which gets quite a workout. As excited as I was to play, I was equally saddened to be reminded about how pathetic my Pac-Man skills were back in the day.
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  • iRobot was able to design a display piece integrated in a high-traffic area. It’s another great example of how Abt is able to work with mainstream brands.
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  • The mini-mall adjacent to the retail floor features seven or eight major brands, including Apple and TUMI. The employees that work in the atrium's stores are trained by the manufacturers to be specialists, but they are Abt employees. While this is not an “official” Apple store, only Apple products are offered in this space.
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