Warren mayor: ‘Art Van would likely be turning over in his grave’

Art Van Furniture plans to close all stores

Warren mayor Jim Fouts.
Warren mayor Jim Fouts.

DETROIT – The Warren-based furniture chain Art Van Furniture is planning to close all stores.

The company said Thursday that it plans to close all of its company owned stores in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Ohio.

The company operates under the brands Art Van Furniture, Art Van PureSleep and Scott Shuptrine Interiors. Levin & Wolf Furniture in Ohio and Pennsylvania will be sold to Robert Levin, pending court approval. Eight Wolf Furniture stores in Maryland and Virginia will also be liquidated.

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

Warren mayor Jim Fouts released a statement, calling the news devastating, noting that 262 employees in Warren will lose their jobs.

“Art Van (Elslander) would likely be turning over in his grave due to this outrageous chain of events. There has to be a national or state law that would prohibit investment companies from buying off and selling all assets at the expense of the workers and the community it is in,” Fouts said.

Art Van was founded by Art Van Elslander in 1959. The first store was on Gratiot Avenue and 10 Mile Road. Elslander died in 2018.

“This was done by a Boston investment company. This company sold and liquidated a good deal of the assets leaving the company with no recourse but BANKRUPTCY! Art Van is a top taxpayer paying well over $2.2 million a year in taxes. They are worth $66 million in Warren," Fouts continued.

Fouts said he would be reaching out to Gov. Whitmer and potential presidential candidates to help prevent similar situations in the future.

The liquidation sales will begin Friday, March 6 at all Art Van Furniture, Art Van PureSleep, and Scott Shuptrine Interiors in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri, and select Wolf stores in Maryland and Virginia.

The Boston-based Thomas H. Lee Partners bought the company in 2017. Crain’s Detroit reported in February that the private equity owner was looking for a possible buyer for the company and might file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Today, there are nearly 200 furniture stores operated by Art Van Furniture in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland under the brands of Art Van Furniture, Art Van PureSleep, Scott Shuptrine Interiors, Levin Furniture, Levin Mattress, Wolf Furniture and Gardiner Wolf Furniture.

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