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5 Businesses Dads Will Love

3. Abt Electronics
Glenview, Ill.

Abt Electronics was started by CEO Jon Abt's grandmother in 1936.

The story goes that Grandma Jewel started the business with her husband and $800 after she was thrown out of her family's grocery business for being a woman, Abt says. The store started with just three employees in a Chicago neighborhood and has grown to become one of the largest independent single-store electronics retailers in the country, sprawled over 37 acres in Glenview, Ill., and employing a staff of 1,100, the company says.

As the name suggests, Abt Electronics sells electronics products -- some 12,000 lines of TVs, stereos and computers, but also outdoor grills and grilling accessories, among other things. Basically a paradise for men.

The store has morphed into its own mini-mall. The showroom is 100,000 square feet and has "boutique" shops for Apple (AAPL - Get Report), Bang & Olufsen, Sony (SNE) and others. It also features a 7,500-gallon saltwater aquarium that's used to demonstrate the image quality of the store's wide selection of cameras and camcorders, and has an atrium with a large fountain in the middle.

Abt says it's a great place to bring the family; the store has interactive displays for kids, and other activities. "It keeps the kids distracted so the parents can shop," he says.

The staff's technical expertise -- acknowledged by many manufacturers -- and strong customer service add to its appeal.

"We put a lot of attention into this store, and that's what makes it successful. It's a unique shopping experience," Abt says. And while he says one day he might consider expanding, for now the company is happy with a single store.

"We don't want to dilute what we've got going," he says. Instead, the company has expanded online and with product offerings.
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