On the passing of Bob Abt

I only had one personal interaction with Bob Abt, although I’ve made many purchases from his store over the past 30 years.  On every visit my wife and I were treated with respect, our questions answered, and the features of products explained. We felt good about doing business in his store. As a retailer myself, I marveled at how his business grew throughout the years in spite of fierce competition  from national chains and the internet; also moving from a small store in Chicago to several increasingly larger stores and now the huge location on the west edge of Glenview. Several years ago we bought a large screen TV from Abt and took advantage of the one year interest-free finance plan that was offered. For 12 months we made the payment due amount printed boldly on the statement. On the 13th month the statement showed that we owed 26% interest retroactively on the original balance as per the terms of the credit agreement. Our fault, no question. We won’t do that again. I decided to call Bob Abt and ask for his help in resolving the matter reasonably. I left a message and waited to hear from him.  A few days later at about 9:40 p.m., while I was watching our 13 month old TV, my cell phone rang. It was Bob Abt. He was sorry he hadn’t returned my call earlier and asked how he could help. I explained. He said he didn’t like these finance deals but they were necessary to keep him competitive with the big guys. He noted that we had been customers for many years, he was sorry for what had happened and said he would make a call to the company who issued the financing and see what he could do. No promises, he said, because a one store operator like me doesn’t really mean much to them. A few days later, he called back.  They had agreed to roll back about 2/3 of the interest, if I paid the balance immediately. I did and it was over. But Bob did what the Best Buy and Amazon, and all the rest of the 800#, “We value your business, your wait time will be 8 minutes” guys never do, he made me feel like I mattered. That’s how he grew his business.  That’s something to be proud of. I’m sorry to hear of his passing. As an independent business man, I hope to remember every day to do business the way Bob Apt did. Sincerely, Charles Schwartz, Card & Party Giant Owner

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