18 Art Van stores in Michigan about to be reborn as Loves Furniture
Eighteen former Art Van Furniture locations across Michigan will soon be reopening with new ownership, name, and approach to online and in-store furniture sales.
Loves Furniture plans to open the locations by late summer and could ultimately hire around 1,000 store employees, many of whom are likely former Art Van employees, said Matt Damiani, 39, CEO of Loves Furniture, in an interview last week.
Customers can find a wide variety of furniture in the stores, including beds and mattresses, as well as a range of price points “to suit all budgets,” he said. You’ll also see a website designed to make “pre-shopping” easier and to schedule appointments with people in the store.
“We’re investing millions in remodeling these stores,” said Damiani. “When customers walk into the store, they’ll know it’s a different experience – that it’s a Loves Furniture store.”
The awkward timing of Loves’ debut – amid the coronavirus pandemic – might even be a good thing.
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Management consultant Alex Calderone of the Birmingham-based Calderone Advisory Group noted that people have spent a lot of time hanging out and working at home since the pandemic.
“My gut tells me that the Loves Furniture stores will do very well to begin with,” Calderone said. “I’m telling you this because there are a lot of federated consumers who spend days a lot of time in their homes, and they are eager to renovate their homes – be it for home offices or just furniture that needs freshening up. “
Loves Furniture grew out of a May deal in US bankruptcy court that followed the surprise bankruptcy liquidation and sudden shutdown in March of Art Van Furniture, the Warren-based company that was once the leading furniture and mattress retailer in the Midwest .
A Texas-based private equity firm called US Assets Inc. initially acquired 17 former Art Van rental locations in Michigan and 10 additional Art Van and Levin and Wolf locations in five other states. This $ 6.9 million deal recently expanded to include an 18th store in Michigan – the former Art Van flagship in Canton.
The Texan firm then set up the Loves Furniture company and brand to run the business.
“We’re about to announce a handful of others, both in Michigan and the rest of the Midwest,” said Damiani of the new company’s number of deals. “So we are actively building this footprint.”
Loves hasn’t announced any opening dates yet, although Michigan stores are likely to open in quick succession rather than all at once, he said.
The name of loved ones
The name Loves Furniture is derived from Jeff Love, the founder and CEO of US Assets.
It is the first furniture store in the US Asset portfolio. Some of the others are the chicken and burger chain Penguin Point in Indiana, a dog grooming and catering company in Arizona, a chain of emergency centers, and a dirt bike and off-road park in Texas.
The company has no relationship with the quirky Love gas station chain.
Damiani, who grew up in Troy and received his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, previously worked for Art Van as an e-commerce manager for about two years and previously as a supply chain director for Staples.
“This is a really big step in bringing a new brand out here,” he said.
Loves Furniture will be launched with a new inventory of furniture products.
Some of the future Loves stores participated in Art Van Furniture’s recent liquidation sale, which had been delayed by the pandemic. This “total inventory blowout” was carried out by American Signature, the parent company of Value City Furniture and American Signature Furniture.
Damiani said the Loves Furniture shopping experience will be different from that of other furniture retailers, and the website will take orders and guide people to visit a store and talk to the store staff before buying.
“We’re trying to provide a more customer-centric experience,” he said. “We tried to remove everything that consumers hated about old traditional furniture purchases, such as high-pressure sales or unclear prices.”
He declined to give Loves’ expected division of internet sales into in-store sales, but said the industry is generally seeing growth in online sales, although most sales are still in stores.
“But 85% of customers go online and surf the web as a rough benchmark before they hit the store,” said Damiani. “We care less about where your transaction takes place and more about this interconnected journey.”
Loves Furniture has started hiring salespeople and is expecting around 1,000 employees. Job vacancies are posted on the company’s website.
“We have a good mix of former Art Van employees, new employees and the diversity of the region and different industries,” he said. “You will help bring the brand to life.”
Known for its community philanthropy for decades, Art Van Furniture sponsored Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The company’s founder, the late Art Van Elslander, saved the parade from cancellation 30 years ago by writing a check for $ 200,000.
Some of that philanthropy stopped after the Van Elsander family sold the company for $ 612.5 million to Boston-based private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners in March 2017, despite the furniture company’s annual Parade continued to sponsor.
Damiani said Loves Furniture also intends to support local organizations, although it is not yet ready to announce specific initiatives or whether it will play a role in the parade.
“Our goal is to be there for a long time and we believe there is a responsibility to give back to your community,” he said.
Loves Furniture Stores will open in the following cities:
- Ann Arbor
- Battle Creek
- Bay City
- Port Huron
- Royal oak
- Shelby Township
- Warren (8 mile)
- Waterford Parish
ContactJC Reindl at the313-222-6631 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jcreindl. Read more about the business and subscribe to our business newsletter.