15 Sep 2014
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New AT&T Store Goes for User-Friendly Approach

AT&T's new location on Skokie Valley Road in Highland Park is built to encourage customers to learn how to use their Androids and iPhones before they walk out the store with them.

New AT&T Store Goes for User-Friendly Approach New AT&T Store Goes for User-Friendly Approach

The first think I noticed when I walked into AT&T's new location in Highland Park wasn't the tall tables scattered throughout the store, where customers gathered around with staff to discuss price plans and options. It wasn't the fact that the traditional counter and cash register had been replaced by hand-held computer tablets.

It was Geraldine Laurence, an elderly Northbrook woman, who sat on a bright orange couch with sunglasses on, working determinedly with the help of a customer service person to figure out how to play song from iTunes on her new iPhone.

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With 5,000 square feet of open space occupied by a few islands of glowing screens and uniformed sales reps, the new storefront is modeled to encourage customers to essentially hang out and learn about what they're buying, according to AT&T spokesperson Erin McGrath.

"You're not just going to walk out of the store with a $300 device and no clue how to use it," McGrath said. "If you want to Skype with your grandson, the staff will show you how."

On Sunday night, store staff used carts to move everything from the former location across the street to the new one at 59 Skokie Valley Road. I decided to stop in on the new location's opening day in a not-so-subtle attempt to play with the new iPhone and whatever other toys I could get my hands on.

I got distracted, however, when I saw Laurence in the back, fiddling with her sleek, white phone. She was registering her email address.

"I'm showing her how to get iTunes, how to email a friend," the sales rep that was walking her through the setup explained.

The store is looking to hire more people. If you're interested, you should have tech know-how, a knack for explaining things and patience.

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