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Art Van Furniture explores sale, possible bankruptcy

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Art Van Furniture's private-equity owner is exploring its options of possibly selling the company and filing for bankruptcy to ensure it can continue serving communities.

Boston-based Thomas H. Lee Partners bought Art Van in February 2017 for $550 million, a year before the death of its founder Van Elslander in February 2018.

Art Van officials confirmed its negotiations to The Detroit News Saturday saying talks are too early to comment.

Art Van officials confirmed its negotiations to The Detroit News Saturday saying talks are too early to comment.

"We are actively exploring a variety of options with our creditors, investors and landlords to ensure Art Van can continue serving our guests and our communities," said Diane Charles, a company spokeswoman. "It is premature at this time to comment further as no final decisions have been made. In the meantime, our stores are open, and it is business as usual."

Charles did not respond to further questions. She would not confirm if Art Van planned to sell itself, file for bankruptcy, or acknowledge a report saying they intend to. 

A decision on the 61-year-old company's future could come as early as next week, according to a Crain's Detroit Business Friday report, which states the Van Elslander family has prepared an offer for the firm to be a bidder in a Chapter 11 reorganization plan.

Elslander died after battling lung cancer when he was 87 years old. At the time, the furniture chain continued to expand into states throughout the Midwest and into Canada. 

Art Van Elslander made a big impact on the Detroit area.

After the sale to Thomas H. Lee Partners, son Gary Van Elslander became Art Van Furniture’s president. Another son, David Van Elslander, became president of Art Van PureSleep. Both sons have since left the company.

Art Van operates 190 stores in nine states operating under brands including Art Van Furniture, Art Van PureSleep, Art Van Flooring, Scott Shuptrine Interiors, Levin Furniture, Levin Mattress, Wolf Furniture and Gardiner Wolf Furniture. 

In recent years, leadership has worked to reshape Art Van with a revamped website, and reorganized showroom floors with new collections and home accents including rugs and window treatments.

Art Van Furniture's CEO Gary Fazio, a retail and bedding manufacturing veteran, came out of retirement to lead the company last fall. In Fazio's first public appearance in September, the company unveiled a new marketing campaign, "Inspiration Lives Here."

Fazio succeeded former CEO Ron Boire, who left the retailer in August 2019 after leading the company for a little over a year. 


Twitter: @SarahRahal_