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b4artvanceo Kim Yost, Art Van Furniture chief executive, says the Springfield Township store will have the largest footprint in its chain. After 54 years in business, Art Van is looking to expand outside of Michigan.
Kim Yost, Art Van Furniture chief executive, says the Springfield Township store will have the largest footprint in its chain. After 54 years in business, Art Van is looking to expand outside of Michigan.
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Published: Tuesday, 8/20/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Art Van’s crown jewel polished for opening

Area store part of expansion to new markets

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Workers unpack items in the clearance center of the new Art Van furniture store that opens Aug. 31. It will em­ploy 100 people. Workers unpack items in the clearance center of the new Art Van furniture store that opens Aug. 31. It will em­ploy 100 people.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

With just 10 days left before the Toledo area superstore opens to the public, officials of Art Van Furniture gave a preview Tuesday of the 90,000-square-foot retailing crown jewel. Even during the preview, workers continued to unpack inventory and ready unfinished areas in the cavernous building that replaced a cinema complex.

PHOTO GALLERY: Art Van furniture debuts new store.

“For many of us, it was hard for us to imagine demolishing that theater and building this new store,” Kim Yost, chief executive officer of Art Van, said before a tour of the facility in the Spring Meadows Shopping Center in Springfield Township.

But the Warren, Mich., retailer dominates Michigan and now, after 54 years in business, is looking to expand outside that state. Art Van said it has built a “shining beacon” that will push the company well past its estimated $500 million in annual sales. Art Van is privately held and does not release its earnings.

The store will employ 100 workers at 1301 E. Mall Dr. It will open Aug. 31, with a grand opening on Sept. 7.

“This store coming to Toledo is about taking our game to the next level,” Mr. Yost said. The chief executive officer said the company views Ohio as prime expansion territory and plans to add stores during the next three years — with a particular eye on Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus.

But Mr. Yost added that the company also sees opportunities in Ohio to set up franchise-owned stores in cities with populations of 25,000 or higher. Findlay, he said, would be a perfect example where a smaller franchise store could operate.

The 90,000-square-foot store is considered Art Van’s crown jewel. The 90,000-square-foot store is considered Art Van’s crown jewel.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Art Van has eight franchise stores, all in Michigan.

Tuesday, though, was all about showing off the Toledo store, which was announced in May, 2012, and was to be the first Art Van store to open outside of Michigan. That honor was eclipsed by the July 20 opening of a store in the Chicago area.

The Chicago-area store, with just 50,000 square feet, opened in a remodeled grocery store, whereas the Toledo store was built from scratch, Mr. Yost said.

“We thought this [Toledo area store] would be first,” he said, “but that food store was just easier to rebuild.”

While the Toledo area store wasn’t the first outside the state of Michigan, it is a first of sorts for the Art Van chain, the CEO said.

Two years ago, the company contracted a retail consultant to design a prototype store based on the viewpoint and desires of Art Van’s target customer — women ages 35 to 55. “We call her Busy Jenny or Super Mom,” Mr. Yost said. The store is known internally as the Art Van 3.0 concept because it incorporates the company’s latest retail strategies beyond its last prototype, the 2.5 concept, which is what was built in Chicago.

The new Art Van Furniture store was built on the site of a demolished cinema complex in Springfield Township. The company has a store in Chicago. The new Art Van Furniture store was built on the site of a demolished cinema complex in Springfield Township. The company has a store in Chicago.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

“Ninety-thousand square feet is the largest footprint in our chain. There are things we’ve never done in Art Van stores before,” Mr. Yost said. “This will be our No. 1 store, our flagship store.”

The store uses more natural light to let customers judge colors correctly and has higher ceilings and fewer walls so shoppers can see farther without obstruction. At the entrance, the main aisle is designated a “style boulevard,” where the company will feature the latest trends in furniture.

The store will have a PureSleep store for mattresses and sleep accessories, a flooring section, a kids’ and teens’ bedroom section, a back-yard furniture section, a clearance center for closeouts and floor samples, and a Paul’s TV & Appliance.

It will carry all top name brands, including La-Z-Boy, Broyhill, Lane, Roma, and England, but Mr. Yost said the store also will have a “secret sauce,” items by those manufacturers that are made exclusively for Art Van and sold only in its stores.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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