Loss of Art Van is More Than Just Furniture for Michigan
There are many casualties that come with the shocking closing of Art Van Furniture. From the employees to the suppliers and the loyal customers, the sudden demise of the furniture giant is being heavily felt across the state. Also feeling the ache are the communities that the company supported for over 60 years.
With Art Van's closing of their 141 corporate-owned stores across the Midwest, charities will be left feeling the loss of the company that supported them in so many ways. Late owner and founder Art Van Elslander prided himself in the ability to give back to the cities and towns he did business in. Through the annual Art Van Charity Challenge, the furniture retailer was able to donate more than $11 million in the past 11 years, helping organizations raise $26 million in matching funds from their other donors. Currently, the event is scheduled for May, but it's still unclear whether it will take place.
Also facing the possibility of an end is the America's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a parade founded in 1924 and held in Detroit. Art Van Elslander stepped in to save the parade back in 1990 when he wrote a $200,000 check to assure it's continuation. The parade is unsure if the support will continue. Tony Michaels, president and CEO of the Parade Co., which puts on the Detroit parade, said Art Van has two years left as the parade's presenting sponsor. “We have to monitor what’s going to happen,” Michaels said. “It’s really a wait-and-see right now.”
Communities also benefited from the retailer in the way of tax dollars which will no doubt have a heavy impact moving forward. In all, the loss of Art Van is multi-faceted. Many that were close to Van Elslander say this is not the way the late owner would have ever envisioned the demise of the company he worked so hard to build alongside his family. Warren Mayor Jim Fouts spoke out saying, "Art Van would likely be turning over in his grave due to this outrageous chain of events". Fouts openly blames the downfall on the current owners of the retailer, Boston-based private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners. He went on to say, "Art Van was a successful company that saved the Thanksgiving Day Parade and was a great charitable contributor to the state and the city of Warren and now is destroyed by investment greed!"
In all, the loss of the staple retailer for so many years in Michigan will be felt for long after the doors close unfortunately.