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Grand opening set for Naperville hhgregg electronics store

A number retailers including hhgregg have decided locate stores Naperville recently.  |  Submitted photo

A number of retailers including hhgregg have decided to locate stores in Naperville recently. | Submitted photo

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Hhgregg stores open Sept. 15

Gurnee: 6911 Grand Ave., Gurnee, IL 60031

Vernon Hills: 555 E. Townline Road, suite 19, Vernon Hills, IL 60061

Geneva: 710 Commons Drive, Geneva, IL 60134

Schaumburg: 1470 E. Golf Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173

Downers Grove: 1508 Butterfield Road, Downers Grove, IL 60515

Bloomingdale: 340 W. Army Trail Road, Bloomingdale, IL 60108

Arlington Heights: 35 W. Rand Road, Arlington Heights, IL 60004

Merrillville: 2757 E. Route 30, Merrillville, IN 46410

Joliet: 3150 Tonti Drive, Joliet, IL 60431

Naperville: 460 S. Route 59, Naperville, IL 60540

Orland Park: 1385 Orland Park Place Drive, suite 206, Orland Park, IL 60462

Niles: 5701 W. Touhy Ave, Niles, IL 60714

Crystal Lake: 4483 Route 14, Crystal Lake, IL 60014

Norridge: 7100 W. Forest Preserve Ave., Norridge, IL 60706

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Updated: November 24, 2011 12:27AM

Fifty-six years after hhgregg was founded in Indianapolis, Ind., the appliance and electronics retailer is opening 14 Chicago-area stores, including one in Naperville, on Sept. 15.

The Naperville store will be in the former Circuit City building at 460 S. Route 59.

Chicago is the third biggest market in the country, so the company waited to make an entrance here, said Gregg Throgmartin, the company’s chief operating officer and great-grandson of the company’s founders.

Hhgregg bided its time by opening in smaller markets in places such as Louisville, Ken.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Columbus, Ohio. The company grew conservatively until it could make a big splash in the area, he said.

“You can’t just go in there with a sprinkling of stores,” Throgmartin said of the Chicago market.

Once the 14 stores open, hhgregg will have 204 stores, but the Chicago market will be the company’s biggest.

Throgmartin was in Illinois on Friday to attend graduation ceremonies for 700 employees who will be working in the stores. Each employee received 200 hours of training for their specific sales area. That training is what sets hhgregg apart from other retailers that sell appliances and electronics, Throgmartin said.

“That’s what has kept us growing, is our sale associates,” he said. “They are the gurus in their areas.”

Those values reflect hhgregg’s 56-year-old roots, starting as H.H. and Fansy Gregg, and known for founder Henry Harold Gregg’s focus on caring, personal service.

The retailer even acquired the rights to the Beatles’ song, “Help,” to use in its advertising. It ranked second to Lowe’s in the latest J.D. Power and Associates consumer satisfaction survey, with a score of 799 of a possible 1,000. Lowe’s scored 807 versus the industry average of 790, based on factors such as price, store appearance, sales and service, variety of merchandise and delivery and installation service.

Customers should notice other differences as soon as they walk into the 30,000-square-foot stores, Throgmartin said. For instance, the company specializes in three main areas: appliances, flat screen TVs and computers, laptops and tablets.

“Within the first 30 seconds, you quickly see that,” Throgmartin said.

The stores also are designed to appeal to women shoppers because, “That’s who controls the purse strings,” Throgmartin said. The hhgreggs have a soft color palette, brighter lighting, wider aisles and ample parking, he explained.

All 14 Chicago-area stores are in buildings abandoned by previous retailers including, Circuit City, Linens n’ Things, Filene’s Basement and Sports Authority. But Throgmartin said the poor economy and fears of a double dip recession are not daunting hhgregg’s expansion efforts. The company has persevered during other recessions, the energy crisis and the tech bubble bursting.

“We’ve been through a lot of cycles and survived them all,” he said.

The company has experienced it’s biggest growth — 38 percent last year — since the housing market fell apart and the recession started in 2008, he said. Throgmartin said the items hhgregg sells are competitively priced and, in many cases, are necessities.

“When your refrigerator goes out, you’re still going to have to buy a refrigerator,” he said. “At the end of the day, I believe our people and our business is poised to execute.”

In addition to the Naperville store, hhgregg will open outlets in Joliet, Orland Park, Gurnee, Vernon Hills, Geneva, Schaumburg, Downers Grove, Bloomingdale, Arlington Heights, Merrillville, Niles, Crystal Lake and Norridge.

Each store employs 50, including salespeople, managers, customer-service representatives and warehouse workers.

The retailer also will operate a regional distribution center in Aurora employing 40 workers.

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