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Electronics Chain hhgregg Hopes to Grab Share of Milwaukee Market

The Indianapolis-based chain opened three stores in the Milwaukee area and on in Green Bay and Appleton on Saturday, its first five Wisconsin stores.

Some of the management team at Indianapolis-based hhgregg may be new to the area, but they certainly did their homework.

The appliance and electronics chain, on Saturday, was scheduled to hold a state-wide, four-day grand-opening starting Sept. 13.

The same day the Green Bay Packers host the Chicago Bears in a primetime NFL game.

“All the paperwork said Sept. 13, but we decided to wait,” said Michael Burdick, who relocated from Virginia to be the Electronics Sales Manager at Greenfield’s store, 4585 S. 76th St.

The grand opening is now slated for Sept. 20-23, but all five Wisconsin stores are open to customers now. Those who shop at hhgregg will find a wide variety of appliances, mattresses, furniture and all their home theater needs.

Of course, in Greenfield, many of those things can be found right across the street at . That’s by design, according to hhgregg Regional Manager Andrew Eaton, who said customers are drawn to areas where they have selections and different retailers to choose from.

And the Greenfield newcomer is confident hhgregg will stack up to its established neighbor.

“We find nine times out of 10, if (customers) go to a Best Buy and then come to our store, we’re going to win,” Eaton said. "They’re going to get lower prices, they’re going to get better service, and frankly a better selection. We like being as close to them as possible. If I could put this store right next to their wall, I would.”

Eaton also understands the stigma hhgregg is facing in Greenfield. The new store occupies the building that formerly housed Circuit City and Ultimate Electronics, .

“We’ve opened up in numerous markets in just the past five years alone and in numerous cases it’s been in buildings formerly occupied by Circuit City or Ultimate,” Eaton said. “In every scenario, the bottom line is customers love us.

“Regardless of the legacy of the past, hhgregg really brings a different way for people to shop.”

Eaton added that while Circuit City and Ultimate Electronics were busts on a grand scale, the Greenfield locations did well.

“When we go into a particular site, (we check) how well that retailer was doing,” he said. “What we’ll try to do is pick the top performing locations.”

Prior to the recent Wisconsin expansion, hhgregg had 212 stores in 16 states, up from about 130 locations just three years ago, according to Burdick.

The five hhgregg stores brought a total of approximately 300 jobs to Wisconsin.

The Greenfield store is one of the larger hhgreggs to date, Burdick said. The typical hhgregg is 25,000-28,000 square feet; the big-box store in Greenfield has a 49,000-square-foot footprint, with 33,000 of that dedicated to the sales floor. That’s 8,000 square feet more than the new Brown Deer store.

The huge space allows for between 300-400 appliances on display at a time, including dozens of televisions along an impressive television display wall along the west side of the building.

“Every TV we carry … we put on display in every size,” Burdick said.

And if size matters to you, the Greenfield location is the only hhgregg in the Milwaukee area that has the 90-inch LED TV by Sharp, which will run you $10,000.

What you won’t find at hhgregg are CDs, DVDs or video games. Eaton said the way people purchase those items has changed, and using retail space on them doesn’t make economic sense.

“We really devote our retail floor space to carry an assortment of the products that matter the most to our success as a company,” he said.

The Greenfield location, whose store manager, David Boyd, is formerly from Charlotte, also has a large room dedicated to training which will be utilized by employees from all three Milwaukee-area stores.

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