Art Van Furniture - About Art Van Furniture

Art Van Furniture is the Midwest's #1 furniture retailer and a family-owned organization, headed by Founder and Chairman Mr. Art Van Elslander. With over 3,200 associates and 400 service and delivery vehicles, we've created an amazing company with a story to tell. The passion and dedication that launched this company continues today, and each year brings fresh innovation and growth. Through perseverance and business-savvy, our story is now over 50 years in the making.

Today, Art Van Furniture operates 48 furniture stores in the Midwest with complete furniture and mattress selections, and 44 freestanding PureSleep mattress stores, which use the latest sleep technology to fit each guest with the right mattress, foundation and pillows to promote better sleep and better health. New offerings inside Art Van Furniture include "Paul's TV" and "World of Floors".

From the Ground Up

Mr. Van Elslander, Chairman and Founder of Art Van Furniture, began working in a Detroit furniture store as a young man. In just a few short years, he was ready for a bigger challenge and opened his own store on Gratiot Avenue and 10 Mile Road in 1959. His founding philosophy was to provide the community with quality furniture at great prices, with always high standards of customer service.

Known then as "Art Vans," Mr. Van Elslander was the sole employee of the store, which featured Danish and contemporary home furnishings. Though Detroit's economy was struggling, the company grew, and between 1959 and 1964 Van Elslander took on three business partners and opened seven more stores. Later, the name was changed to the current Art Van Furniture.

Getting Creative

The company hit hard times in 1964. Struggling to save the business, Van Elslander held a liquidation sale at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. He was worried this bold move might not work. The Beatles were performing at the Olympia Stadium in Detroit and the show was broadcast to the crowds at the Fairgrounds, so Van Elslander thought it would doom sales.

But he was wrong. In what became a legendary moment in Art Van Furniture history, Mr. Van Elslander sold everything. This remarkable sale was a turning point, and put Art Van back on the map.

Growth continued through the years, with eight more stores opening throughout Michigan, and eventually Mr. Van Elslander bought out his partners and become sole owner once more. In 1973, Art Van Furniture moved its headquarters from 12 Mile and Van Dyke Road to the 14 Mile location in Warren, where it is still located today.

Changing the Game

Art Van Furniture soon became known for innovation in furniture retail. Aiming to create new ways to provide unmatched customer service, Art Van's massive in-store inventory and delivery capabilities ensure that customers not only receive great value, but they can also enjoy their furniture immediately. Also, the Clearance Centers, which opened in 1984, continue to offer both brand-new and overstocked merchandise at remarkable savings to guests throughout the state. With a focus on innovation an automated warehouse was constructed in 2001. This one-of-a-kind 183,000 square-foot storage and retrieval system is completely automated, allowing Art Van Furniture to leave a smaller environmental footprint than a traditional warehouse by using 75% less lighting, heating, and cooling.

Building Respect

Mr. Van Elslander's business savvy and ground-breaking practices have earned him industry respect and many of his marketing initiatives have been mimicked by others. A member of the American Furniture Hall of Fame, his accomplishments have been highlighted through industry recognition including the Ernst and Young Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2009 Retailer of the Year Award by Furniture Today; and the Spirit of Life Award from City of Hope and the National Home Furnishings and Consumer Electronics Industry.

Giving Back

Mr. Van Elslander says, "If you're fortunate enough to be as our company has been, then it's your responsibility to give back. I just believe that." Mr. Van Elslander's philanthropic efforts have raised $17 Million for charities in our local communities over the last five years, with a special focus on assisting families, children and the hungry. Art Van Furniture provides support to non-profit organizations such as Forgotten Harvest, Gleaners Community Food Bank, The Henry Ford Health System, Genesys Health Foundation, St. Mary's Hospital Foundation, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Foundation and America's Thanksgiving Day Parade. In addition, Art Van Furniture is proud to host fund raising events for our Million Dollar Charity Challenge recipients, annual toy collection drives for Toys for Tots and blood drives for the American Red Cross.


Read about Giving at Art Van Furniture

Our Story

Art Van Furniture through the years