How a Megastore Solved my Appliance Quandary

It took a trip across the Illinois border to find the help and guidance needed to make one couple’s kitchen dreams come true.

When my husband and I decided to remodel our house, our contractor told us that the first step was to order kitchen appliances. What?? I naively thought that was more like a 20th step.  

I’m a researcher. Even when I purchase low-investment items like toasters or frying pans, I create detailed, color-coded spreadsheets. Comparison shopping for a full suite of spendy kitchen appliances would require time. I felt rushed and panicked, like I was embarking on an important journey without GPS or even a paper map. 


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My husband and I spent weekends visiting every appliance store we could find in the area. We met some nice, knowledgeable folks who showed us some cool, shiny options. And on one occasion, we came close to pulling the trigger. Our salesperson seemed motivated. He promised to chase down details for us, including availability and timing. We were mentally gearing up to make it final. And then he ghosted us! I blamed myself. Did I ask too many questions? Or was it my lack of spreadsheets?   

We turned to our general contractor, who recommended Abt, an appliance megastore located in Glenview, Illinois, about 45 minutes south of the state border. I was hesitant to go so far from home, especially since this excursion would have to happen on a weekend, which would mean dragging the kids along. This was not their idea of a fun Saturday. But we were out of options. 

Illustration by Getty Images

Nothing prepared me for the size of Abt, which at first glance looked more like an Amazon distribution center than a store. Walking through the door, my brain struggled to process the vast quantity of products and gadgets. The kids, on the other hand, were not overwhelmed at all. They darted off as if we had just walked through the gates at Disneyland. 

Within moments of entering, a smiling guy walked up to my husband and me. “It looks like you could use some help. I’m Carlos,” he said. 

We spilled our guts to Carlos, telling him what we had been through and what we were looking for. In a thoughtful way, he helped us realize we didn’t need what we thought we wanted.  

Carlos suggested we head over to the Sub-Zero and Thermador stores-within-a-store, leading us out of the main showroom and beyond the store’s colorful water fountain. We passed a furniture emporium, some sort of man-cave store, a candy shop and a technology center. Near the cooking demonstration area, we paused briefly to gaze at a 7,500-gallon saltwater aquarium. 

My son’s voice snapped me back to reality. “Mom, cookies!” Both kids were smiling big, holding melty chocolate chip cookies baked in a BlueStar kitchen. 

I let go of my research anxiety and decided to put all my trust in Carlos. My husband, always rational and logical, assured me that we were making a solid choice. We ordered a lovely kitchen appliance package, which was installed in our newly remodeled house two months ago.  

The weird thing is, every once in a while, the kids ask if we can visit Abt again. Honestly, I’m open to it so long as we aren’t on the hook to buy more appliances. We are all set for now. 



This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s April issue.

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