By Danica Katnik/

Employees at local Art Van Furniture stores are voicing their concerns and frustrations over being left in the dark following the retailer’s decision to close all locations.

The announcement was made last week and said to be due in part to a “challenging retail environment”. Closures in Livingston County include a PureSleep center in Genoa and two in Brighton, as well as their retail outlet in Genoa Township at Latson Road and Grand River. While stores with more than 50 employees will remain open for at least another sixty days, smaller-staffed store employees say they have no idea when their location will close.

A salesperson at the Latson Road location who reached out to WHMI says the smaller stores have been left in the dark. The employee, who wished to remain anonymous, also says that they are not receiving any guidance or direction from management in closure dates, sales percentages or how to handle customer warranties that will no longer be honored.

The lack of information and potential warranty problems have left customers angry. The stores are also drawing large crowds who are picking up their already paid-for furniture. Police had to shut down customer pick-up last week at the Art Van store on 14 Mile Road in Warren due to massive and angry crowds.

The local employee says the public probably knows as much as employees do, but also has speculated on how the company went from a powerhouse to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in just three years. Art Van was a debt-free company when it was purchased by Thomas H. Lee Partners LP in 2017 for approximately $550 million from the company’s founder, Art Van Elslander. The employee WHMI spoke with alleges that the private equity firm had a strategy all along to borrow against the company’s value and is now liquidating, having used debt to finance the transaction.

The employee says staff members feel terrible about the impact this is having on customers. She adds that they don’t know what to do, but are still “trying to help everyone as much as possible.” A request for comment from Art Van management went unreturned.