HFA members lament the loss of Art Van

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Art Van Store

HFA members are still trying to make sense of Art Van Furniture’s stunning announcement this month that the retailer is closing all company-owned stores in at least five states and filed for bankruptcy.

For RandiLynn Talsma of Blended Furniture in Norton Shores, Mich., the news went beyond headlines and television pronouncements. Blended Furniture shares its parking lot with an Art Van store. “The news is a little more personal when you know the (Art Van) employees personally and you see them in the grocery store,” Talsma said.

Randilynn Talsma
RandiLynn Talsma

Talsma said Art Van employees are in turmoil and are unsure of what the future holds. She said she would be interested in talking to those employees about opportunities at Blended when the time is right. “But right now we’re just here to support them and let them know we are thinking and praying for them.”

Art Van, family-owned until 2017, exits the industry with 169 furniture and mattress stores in its portfolio. Thomas H. Lee Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm, purchased Art Van’s assets as well as 44 Levin Furniture and Wolf Furniture stores.

HFA member FFO Home posted on LinkedIn last week, “Our hearts go out to all the Art Van associates that will be displaced.” The company also said it was hiring for key positions. “We are looking to attract top talent who desires to grow and advance in the company. We currently have opportunities from Store Manager to Executive Leadership, with a concentration on our Merchandising and Marketing Departments. Our strategic plan is to continue to open more locations so building our talent bench is critical and top talent is necessary.”

Seth Brown of Globe Furniture in Chillicothe, Ohio, said he and other retailers do not gain any advantage when another furniture store goes out of business – even one as big as Art Van, which was No. 14 on Furniture Today’s Top 100 list.

[Art Van recognizes local heroes as part of its new branding campaign]

“Competition is good for all of us,” said Brown. “Competition drives the traffic from store to store. Even in small towns like ours, we need the traffic – heck, especially in small towns it’s important.”

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