Springing Forward After Slow WinterBy Markkus RovitoORLANDO, Fla.—Most NATM Buying Corp. members and executives maintained an attitude of cautious optimism for 2001 at the group's annual meeting held last month. Although NATM Executive Director Bill Trawick called CE sales figures in January and February "not exciting," NATM expects another year of growth, with sales bouncing back in the second half of the year. (Note: After the NATM meeting, major stock indexes fell to their lowest levels in more than two years for the week ended March 16.) In order to weather the storm, NATM said its members would work on increasing efficiency in

By Tatyana Sinioukov Like yin and yang, Internet and in-store sales can live in perfect harmony, and there are several strategies that make it work. Some brick-and-mortar retailers turn click-and-mortar but still sell different products in-store and online. Take, for example, Abt Electronics. According to Mike Abt, company president, Abt Electronics sells mostly electronics through its Web site and adds major appliances to its in-store mix. "It's more difficult," he explained, "to ship big products, so customers are less likely to buy, say, a refrigerator online." Since July 1999, the integration of the Internet and traditional businesses is part of Circuit City's overall

By Jamie Latshaw MORTON GROVE, Ill.--It's Bob Abt's insistence on superior customer service that repeatedly brings his customers back to his store, Abt Electronics and Appliances. His motto, "The Answer is Always 'Yes' to Any Reasonable Request," hangs on the wall to remind employees who's got the right of way. His secret is simple. "Keep the customer happy," he said. From the quick, friendly greeting and the honest product advice to the customers, Abt follows through with delivery, installation and future service of the product. Abt Electronics began as Abt Radio during the depression, started with $800 by Dave and Jewel Abt. Jewel, 91, still works in the store,

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