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AT&T debuts new store design in La Grange, first in the country

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 8:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 2:59 p.m. CDT
(By Alex Ruppenthal - aruppenthal@shawmedia.com)
The AT&T store at 1 N. La Grange Road is the first to open with the company's new retail store design, which it will begin installing in stores across the country. The layout, which does not include a traditional cash register counter, is intended to make customers feel at home.

LA GRANGE – AT&T is rolling out new-look retail stores across the country, and the first one is opening right here in La Grange.

The phone and Internet provider has moved from its previous location at 34 N. La Grange Road to the first floor of 1 N. La Grange Road – the former home of Borders in La Grange.

AT&T picked the location as the first for its new store design because it was already moving into a new building, and also because of La Grange's booming downtown.

"I'm very proud that we got to do this in La Grange," said Dave Fine, vice president for AT&T Illinois and Wisconsin. 

Designed to give customers a more comfortable shopping experience, the new store layout is without a traditional cash register countertop. Instead, a collection of spaced-out tables featuring different products make for a more natural interaction between employees and customers.

"People will ask questions when they're sitting at the table that they would never ask standing because they felt pressure [to make room] for the next customer," Fine said.

The store's orange walls are offset by wooden panels intended to make customers feel at home. A guitar stands vertically at the center of a table featuring music-related products, while a bucket of movie theater popcorn sits at the entertainment table. Those features are combined with plenty of technology, including a dozen or so flat-panel screens scattered throughout the store. 

"We know that technology can be intimidating to our customers," Fine said. "We want customers to be able to walk in, immerse themselves with the products and feel comfortable asking the questions they might not [normally] feel comfortable asking."

AT&T tested the design in a Milwaukee warehouse. It was created out of two years of research into customer experience, much of which came from the company's Michigan Avenue store in Chicago. Currently, the design is being incorporated into 15 to 20 stores nationwide, with plans to redesign all of the company's 2,300 retail locations.

"The transformation we're making in retail is transaction to interaction," Fine said.

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