Art 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," 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.
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, 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 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.