The Shelby Township Art Van Furniture, located at 14055 Hall Road, east of Schoenherr Road, is closing and liquidating its assets.

The Shelby Township Art Van Furniture, located at 14055 Hall Road, east of Schoenherr Road, is closing and liquidating its assets.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

Art Van going out of business

By: Brian Louwers, Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 9, 2020


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — On March 5, Warren-based Art Van Furniture released a statement that it will be going out of business, shocking many unsuspecting customers, vendors and residents across the Midwest.

Art Van Furniture will move to close all company-owned stores and liquidate its assets. Two weeks prior to the announcement, spokesperson Diane Charles had confirmed that Art Van Furniture was “exploring a variety of options” for its future, three years after finalizing the sale of the company to a Boston-based private equity firm.

“Despite our best efforts to remain open, the company’s brands and operating performances have been hit hard by a challenging retail environment,” Charles said. “We recognize the extraordinary retail, community and philanthropic legacies that Art Van Furniture has built for decades in the community.

“On behalf of the company, we want to offer our sincere appreciation to our employees for their dedication, commitment and hard work. We also want to extend our gratitude to the many customers, vendors, franchises, charities and communities who have supported these retailers,” Charles said.

She said the “difficult decision” was made to wind down operations and begin liquidation sales at all of Art Van’s company-owned stores in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio. Affected brands include Art Van Furniture, Art Van PureSleep and Scott Shuptrine Interiors.

In February 2017, the company announced its pending sale to Thomas H. Lee Partners. Terms of the deal were not released. At the time, Art Van Furniture operated more than 100 stores across five states with 4,000 employees and had been named among the top independent and overall furniture retailers in the U.S.

In a March 5 email, a spokesperson for Thomas H. Lee Partners said that investors, including THL, in the March 2017 acquisition of Art Van stand to lose 100% of their principal investment in the company and that they did not receive any dividends or capital returns from their investments.

Archie “Art” Van Elslander, the son of a Belgian immigrant who started work in the retail business at the age of 14 in a men’s closing store, died in February 2018 at the age of 87. He graduated in 1948 from Denby High School in Detroit, served in the U.S. Army and started a family before he got his start in the industry he would transform in the decades to come.

Van Elslander supported many charitable causes, including America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit, Focus: HOPE and Forgotten Harvest.

Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said he received a letter from Art Van Furniture about the closure that included a list of the location’s employees and their job titles. He said 76 employees will lose their jobs.

“I know it was a difficult decision they had to make,” Stathakis said. “They all have families. It’s just sad. It really is.”

“Hall Road is an essential part of the Shelby Township and Macomb County economy, and I know our partners with the county are going to work very hard with our township staff in the Planning and Zoning and Building departments to address this vacancy,” Stathakis said.

Shelby Township Community Relations Department Director Brad Bates said that the Art Van Furniture store in the township was already assessed as occupied at the end of 2019. Bates said the Board of Review will meet at the end of March, and the company will have until June 1 to appeal to the state regarding taxes.

Bates said the Art Van Furniture store on Hall Road is company-owned, and the Art Van PureSleep store on Van Dyke Avenue is leased from a landlord, so the fate of its bottom line does not impact the township’s bottom line.

According to Shelby Township Assessor Matthew Schmidt, the 2020 state equalized value for the Art Van property on Hall Road is roughly $2.9 million, and it generates a total of $128,233 in annual tax revenue, with $25,750 going to Shelby Township.

The Shelby Township Art Van Furniture is located at 14055 Hall Road, east of Schoenherr Road. The Shelby Township Art Van PureSleep is located at 46975 Van Dyke Ave., just south of 21 Mile Road.