Big retailer gives economic boost to Chicago area

August 19, 2011 3:13:54 PM PDT
There is positive economic news in the Chicago area.

Next month, appliance and electronics retailer hhgregg will open 14 stores in the Chicago area. They are taking over buildings that other large retailers have left vacant and bringing jobs with them.

We've heard the challenges for businesses getting financing and maintaining revenue when consumer spending is down. Locally, we're seeing a business buck that trend and take advantage of the opportunity created by this soft economy.

Employees got their first look at their new store in Niles on Friday. The hhgregg store will be among 14 stores to open in the Chicago area next month.

"We've grown through good times and bad," said hhgregg's Gregg Throgmartin. "Obviously, when you're in business for 56 years, you've seen recessions, gas shortages, Internet bubbles, etc., and we've been able to make money and grow."

Throgmartin is the great grandson of the appliance store's founder and is the chief operating officer of the company. He says 700 employees are being hired for the new stores.

Some are going through training already.

The company's expansion comes as the market reflects uncertainty in a soft economy nationally and globally, and as some retailers are reducing staff and real estate.

"The real estate, there's a lot of supply out there," said Throgmartin. "The people, we can get the caliber of people that we want...and people still need washers, dryers, refrigerators, and they're still gonna purchase a TV."

Near the Niles store there are already competitors. Some shoppers say more competition will help them.

"If there's competition, then there's a little bit better sales going on, and you just have to be an informed consumer," said Randi Amato.

Some in the area are glad to hear about a business growing instead of shrinking.

"It's good for us," said Anthony Chavarria. "It's a sign we are getting back in business, little by little."

hhgregg has hired all of the new employees for its new stores, but the company says it is constantly hiring.

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