Franchised Art Van Furniture stores staying open, but bracing for big changes
(3/5/2020) - Thursday was a very sad day for one of Michigan's best known brands, as Art Van Furniture announced plans to liquidate and close about 141 company-owned stores.
The company is planning to begin liquidation sales on Friday and begin the process of winding down operations. About 3,600 employees will be out of a job.
The first hints of Art Van's struggle to stay afloat came back in February, when its equity firm owner began reaching out to its creditors, weighing a potential bankruptcy filing.
Employees learned of the plans to close the company during a conference call on Thursday morning. The move came as a surprise to many people inside and outside Art Van.
Not all Art Van locations will disappear, however. Several franchised stores carrying the Art Van name will remain in business, including a location in Owosso.
Other franchised Art Van stores remaining open are located in Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie, Mount Pleasant, Gaylord, East Tawas and other cities.
Kevin King, who manages the Owosso store, said the loss of Art Van's corporate operations will be a challenge for the franchised stores.
"The system we're on right now, we're only on for the next four to six weeks," he said. "After that, we've got to find a different system as far as ordering, checking inventory levels… Same thing with suppliers. We've got to find different suppliers."
Jeff Deason, who is CEO of the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the loss of Art Van will be another blow to dozens of Midwest communities who have endured a string of retail closures over the years.
"It's a big dent," he said. "Anytime you lose a large retail establishment in your community, it hurts. We've had a lot of those over the last 10 years or so."