(WWJ) - Art Van is closing its doors for good.
The furniture retailer announced Thursday it is shutting down operations and will begin liquidating all assets.
Liquidation sales start Friday, March 6 at all Art Van Furniture, Art Van PureSleep, and Scott Shuptrine Interiors in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri, and select Wolf stores in Maryland and Virginia.
"Despite our best efforts to remain open, the company's brands and operating performance have been hit hard by a challenging retail environment," spokesperson Diane Charles said in a statement. "We recognize the extraordinary retail, community and philanthropic legacies that Art Van Furniture has built for decades in the community."
The company operates under the brands Art Van Furniture, Art Van PureSleep and Scott Shuptrine Interiors. Levin & Wolf Furniture in Ohio and Pennsylvania will be sold to Robert Levin, pending court approval. Eight Wolf Furniture stores in Maryland and Virginia will also be liquidated.
"On behalf of the company we want to offer our sincere appreciation to our employees for their dedication, commitment and hard work. We also want to extend our gratitude to the many customers, vendors, franchisees, charities and communities who have supported these retailers," Charles said.
Among those reacting to the news is Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, who is concerned about the thousands of Art Van employees; particularly the 262 at the 14 Mile Road store who are about to lose their jobs.
"Nationwide, this company was a billion dollar plus company for 60 years, and now in less than 3 years is essentially drained dry and will be out of business. Not even the name of the company is likely to be saved," Fouts said, in a statement. "Art Van was a successful company that saved the Thanksgiving Day Parade and was a great charitable contributor to the state and the city of Warren and now is destroyed by investment greed!"
Art Van Furniture started in 1959 as a single store on Gratiot Avenue and grew to the number one furniture and mattress retailer in the Midwest with more than 200 stores. The company was purchased by Boston-based public equity firm Thomas H Lee Partners in 2017.
Art Van Elslander, who started the company, died on February 12, 2018.
"Art Van would likely be turning over in his grave due to this outrageous chain of events," Fouts added. "There has to be a national or state law that would prohibit investment companies from buying off and selling all assets at the expense of the workers and the community it is in."
Erica Graham had furniture on order from the store at Greenfield and 9 Mile in Southfield, but was asked to come back for a refund because they couldn't guarantee delivery.
"It's just devastating...The young lady that I was working with, she was close to tears," Graham said. "She said she felt so bad because people have been there over 30 years and now they're losing their jobs."
"But it's just the way of the world now," she said. "You could be out on the street any day."
The company has about 3,700 workers, 2,200 of whom are in Michigan. With the economy booming and unemployment low, several prominent local business leaders immediately reached out offering to talk to displaced Art Van workers about new jobs. Among them are Jeff Glover, with jobs posted at liveunreal.com, who is hiring for sales and management; the Golling family of car dealerships, which has jobs HERE; and Stanford Blanck at Wallside Windows, which is also on a hiring blitz. Apply at Wallside HERE.
Employees faced with sudden job loss can also visit Michigan's talent connect for a plethora of positions HERE.