The Abt file Featured

6:40am EDT July 29, 2006
Born: Chicago, 1963

Education: University of Colorado

First job: EMT on an ambulance

What is the greatest business lesson you’ve learned?
The answer is yes to any reasonable request.

What is the greatest business challenge you’ve faced?
Just trying to set ourselves apart. Trying to be different and trying to have a unique experience for customers and for ourselves.

Abt on customer service: The most important thing is to listen to the customer — don’t just talk to them but listen to what they need and do what they need —have low prices and have product in stock and come when you say, and if you’re gong to make a mistake, be real upfront about it.

Let a customer know as soon as you can, and then don’t overpromise. Just get the job done and keep communicating. Give people a one-on-one experience — make sure calls aren’t transferred to 50 different people. Hopefully they just get one or two people and they get their problem solved.

Abt on surviving: I think the people that had these little stores, they got tired. They really didn’t change. My dad, especially, embraced change, was always trying to do better, and we just kept trying new things.

Our smallness and our changing ability really is what’s kept us going for so long.