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CHICAGO (CBS) — You’ve probably noticed the commercials for retailer HHGregg that have been appearing on the Chicago airwaves lately, featuring a cover version of the Beatles song, “Help!”
The Indianapolis-based electronics and appliance retailer says it is providing some help to the Chicago area economy, in the form of 700 new jobs at 14 new stores that will all open Thursday.
For now, the new stores are all in the suburbs, but chief operating officer Gregg Throgmartin says the chain has plans to open stores within the Chicago city limits too.
“Fourteen stores is as many as we could get pulled together for one single day, but we have more to come – in fact, even more to come before this holiday season,” Throgmartin said.
How, in this economy, can HHGregg afford to expand into a new market when so many retailers are downsizing? Throgmartin says it simply amounts to good business.
“It’s real estate, it’s people – we’ve been able to attract some of the best talent in my career, and at the end of the day, the consumer votes with their wallet. We have over 200 stores, and at every store, the consumer likes what we offer,” he said.
Throgmartin added also said employees at HHGregg go through more than 200 hours a year of training, and “whether it’s a good economy – but I think especially in a tough economy – if you’re going to fork over $500, you need to make sure you get the right thing, and you need to make sure somebody’s going to stand behind it.”
Each HHGregg store employs 50, including salespeople, managers, customer-service representatives and warehouse workers. HHGregg also will operate a regional distribution center in Aurora employing 40.
At the 30,000 square-foot stores, shoppers will see 110 flat-panel TV screens spread across the entire length of the back wall. Each TV is turned on to demonstrate its qualities.
The chain also keeps in stock more than 500 appliances, including models from GE, LG, Samsung and Whirlpool. Its smartphone offerings, all sold with Verizon as the cellular provider, include LG, Samsung and HTC, as well as the Apple iPhone, and its tablet computers, ranging from the Apple iPad to the Archos Arnova, feature Android operating systems.
The new HHGregg stores opening Thursday will be located in Gurnee, Crystal Lake, Vernon Hills, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Niles, Norridge, Bloomingdale, Geneva, Downers Grove, Naperville, Orland Park, Joliet, and Merrillville, Ind.
Employment opportunities at HHGregg are available at the company’s Web site.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.