Art Van Elslander, founder of Art Van, dies at age 87

Posted at 11:20 AM, Feb 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-12 18:13:09-05

Art Van Elslander, the founder of furniture company Art Van, has died at the age of 87.

Van Elslander founded the company in 1959 with his first store at 10 Mile and Gratiot Ave. Now, the company operates more than 100 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa.

"My family is heartbroken by the loss of our father," his son, Gary, said in a release. He is currently the president of Van Elslander Capital.

According to the company, Art was the only employee of the store, and he sold Danish and contemporary home furnishings.

Van Elslander recently donated $20 million to the Father Solanus Casey Center to expand the center.

"Now that Father Solanus is named blessed, I'm sure that the number of people coming here to the center is going to increase substantially," he said at the time.

In January 2017, they sold Art Van Furniture to private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners.

At the time, Van Elslander said "There is still much I want to do, and I feel confident knowing the company and its people will be in the very best of hands for continued growth and success."

For several years, Art Van Furniture and WXYZ-TV teamed up with Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan to fight hunger in metro Detroit with the annual "Together We Can" food drive.

Van Elslander also helped save Detroit's Thanksgiving Day parade when it was in financial trouble in 1990 by making a major donation.