Founder of Art Van Furniture, Art Van Elslander, dies at 87

Van Elslander founded furniture company in 1959

Founder of Art Van Furniture, Art Van Elslander, dies at 87

DETROIT – Art Van Elslander, the founder of Michigan-based Art Van Furniture, has passed away at the age of 87.

Van Elslander died of complications from lung cancer, which he had beaten over a year ago. 

“My family is heartbroken by the loss of our father,” said Gary Van Elslander, President of Van Elslander Capital, and Mr. Van Elslander’s eldest son.

Art Van Elslander opened his first store on Gratiot Avenue and 10 Mile Road back in 1959.

Known then as Art Van’s, Mr. Van Elslander was the sole employee of the store, which featured Danish and contemporary home furnishings. Though Detroit's economy was struggling, the company grew and later the name was changed to the current Art Van Furniture.

In 1973, Art Van Furniture moved its headquarters from 12 Mile and Van Dyke Road to the 14 Mile location in Warren, where it is still located today.

Today, the company operates 100 stores throughout Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana.

Van Elslander is survived by his ten children, wife Mary Ann, several grand children and great grand children. 

The Van Elslanders have a long history of philanthropy and have been honored by several local organizations throughout the years for their charitable contributions and staunch community support, including: Angels Place, the Michigan Cancer Foundation, Goodfellows, Catholic Youth Organization, Michigan Patrons of the Arts (Artrain), National Anti-Defamation League (American Heritage Award) and The Parade Company.  

Art Van Elslander was a 1992 winner of the Max M. Fisher Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Van Elslander was recently named a Crain's Detroit Newsmaker of the Year for 2017.

Here are some old interview's with Art Van Elslander during the Thanksgiving Parade:

About the Authors:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.