By Moe Lastfogel
Director of Sales and Marketing for The Retail Observer
I personally spoke with Bob Abt only once, years ago when we took over The Retail Observer, but from that conversation and from what people have told me, he was a highly admired man. Since I can’t write about him personally to give him the credit deserved, I pulled these words from the Chicago Tribune in commemoration of his life.
Bob Abt, CEO of Abt Electronics and known as a Chicago retail legend who guided the company through the rise and decline of national competitors such as Circuit City and Best Buy, has died at age 77.
Abt died after struggling with cancer for the past three years, according to a company spokesman, and despite his illness still went into the Abt megastore in Glenview every day until about a month before he passed and was still calling the store and checking emails.
“Bob Abt not only ran a successful business but also set a standard for customer service and business integrity that other business owners in Chicago and beyond aspire to,” said Steve Bernas, CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois, who knew Abt for more than 20 years. “We often forget how important family owned and operated business is to this country. I salute you and all the companies like you. RIP Bob.”
Bob Abt was raised in Chicago. He graduated from the University of Florida in Gainesville and served in the military. He was married to his wife, Alice, for 54 years. After his parents started the Abt store, Bob Abt began working in the family business part time in 1953 and then full time in 1962. The store moved many times and now stands in its current location in Glenview.
We at The Retail Observer send Bob Abt’s family and loved ones our heartfelt condolences.