Art Van stores to 'regroup,' remain closed until Monday afternoon

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Warren — After "overwhelming" crowds at its area stores, soon-to-be-closed Art Van shut down its showrooms early Saturday, a spokeswoman said.

Earlier in the day, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts posted on Facebook that he ordered the police to shut down the showroom between Mound Road and Va Dyke Avenue "to protect the public."

"They only have two security guards for this large complex and the result is massive traffic jams and angry customers in which confrontations are taking place and there is a possibility of an outbreak of angry customers," he said.

Art Van located at 6500 E. 14 Mile Road in Warren.

However, Art Van spokeswoman Diane Charles said the decision to shutter the Warren store, and all the others, was a company decision. 

"Traffic to all our stores was overwhelming, not just Warren," Charles said. "We are closed tomorrow (Sunday) to regroup and restock and will reopen on Monday at 2 p.m." 

Warren police did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

Art Van's liquidation sale began Friday for the 61-year-old company, which announced Thursday that it was going under. All 3,100 of its employees will lose their jobs. Of those, 262 work at the 14 Mile location, according to Fouts.

Art Van paid more than $2.2 million a year in taxes. That accounts for $66 million for Warren, Fouts said.

"Nationwide, this company was a billion-dollar-plus company for 60 years, and now in less than three years is essentially drained dry and will be out of business. Not even the name of the company is likely to be saved," he said.

Fouts said many of the angry customers have been denied refunds for a down payment on an item the store no longer has.

The company had sold warranties of two, four and six years for furniture, marketed as bronze, silver and gold. The lesser protection cost $50 to $475 and covered “common accidental stains and damage.”

Each came with a lengthy list of exclusions and a furniture care kit, “a $79.99 value,” composed of an all-purpose cleaner, wood polish, leather conditioner, soy sponge and cloth. Thousands who recently  bought warranties were left with nothing.

"They have a right to be mad as do the employees as well. They are not keeping their promises to both customers and employees," Fouts said.

► More: Art Van warranty buyers out of luck amid liquidation

Art Van will be billed by the city, he said.

"Art Van will be billed for the extra police that we have had to send out to control massive traffic jams and angry customers," Fouts said. "They will also be charged for not fulfilling their commitment regarding tax abatements that we have given over the past years. This is being researched by our city attorney and assessor."

Betty Caldwell, of Detroit, and her grandson, Reese McCaskill Jr., of West Bloomfield, leave Art Van Furniture in Dearborn after buying a lamp. "This is just a shame, because we shop Art Van a lot. Now we have to shop somewhere else, although, I understand why it happened," says Caldwell.

Founded in 1959 with one store by Art Van Elslander, the Warren-based company expanded significantly in the last seven years to 190 stores in nine states, including Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio. 

In addition to its main stores, the company also operates Art Van PureSleep, Art Van Flooring, Scott Shuptrine Interiors, Levin Furniture, Levin Mattress, Wolf Furniture and Gardiner Wolf Furniture.

For many, the closure of Art Van was a chance to make some purchases and remember fondly the company they grew up patronizing. 

Betty Caldwell, of Detroit, and her grandson, Reese McCaskill Jr., of West Bloomfield, went to the Dearborn Art Van Friday and picked up a lamp.

"This is just a shame because we shop Art Van a lot," said Caldwell. "Now we have to shop somewhere else, although, I understand why it happened."

More: Art Van closing shocks customers, city leaders

Twitter: @SarahRahal_