Rothman Furniture properties to reopen as Art Van Furniture stores … –

Art Van Furniture, a growing chain based in Warren, Mich., will open early next year in four former Rothman Furniture & Mattress properties, company officials say. 

The furniture stores — in Affton, Bridgeton, O’Fallon, Mo., and O’Fallon, Ill. — will be Art Van’s first in the St. Louis area. The retailer, founded in 1959, currently has more than 120 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa.  


Rothman Furniture

Rothman Furniture’s Alton store. 


In addition, Magnolia Home by Rothman, a single-store furniture location at 1516 South Hanley Road in Richmond Heights, will be converted to an Art Van Design Studio later this year, said Rothman President and CEO Jay Steinback, who signed a franchise agreement with Art Van for the St. Louis stores. 

Steinback, 39, will lead the new Art Van of St. Louis franchise unit that will be based in the St. Louis area, and 220 of Rothman’s 230 employees are being offered employment at Art Van, Steinback said.

He sees opportunities to grow Art Van to as many as 10 stores in the St. Louis area and several more elsewhere in Missouri and southern Illinois. “We’re actively looking for more sites,” he said, adding he’s looking at vacant Sports Authority and Gander Mountain retail spaces. 

Additionally, Art Van’s PureSleep mattress stores will open both within the chain’s furniture stores and as standalone stores in the St. Louis region, Steinback said.  

St. Louis-based KAI Design & Build is providing construction services for the building renovations and Clayton-based Enterprise Bank & Trust is Art Van St. Louis’ lender. 

Two existing Rothman Furniture sites that won’t be converted to Art Van are 7737 Watson Road in Shrewsbury and 3001 Washington Avenue in Alton. The sprawling 88,000-square-foot Shrewsbury building is under contract to U-Haul, and the future use for the 37,000-square-foot Alton property has not yet been determined.

Steinback is the grandson of Milton Rothman, who ran Rothman Furniture until the early 1980s. Steinback was named CEO, succeeding his father, Dale Steinback, in 2013.

Rothman Furniture has about $50 million in annual sales and is profitable, Steinback said in an interview at the company’s O’Fallon, Mo., headquarters. But as competition from e-commerce retailers has intensified in recent years, younger customers are increasingly expecting furniture deliveries within a couple days as opposed to a couple weeks.

“If you can’t do that, they’ll find someone else that will,” Steinback said. “I couldn’t stock enough to meet that demand.”

As an Art Van franchisee, Steinback said he’ll now have access to a 1.3 million-square-foot warehouse in Detroit with $55 million in inventory. Rothman’s existing 160,000-square-foot warehouse generally only holds about $5 million in inventory.

When Rothman announced its plans in September to shut down all of its stores, Steinback said some customers commented on social media that Rothman’s inventory was outdated.

“We look at the comments,” Steinback said. “And I get it. We’ll have more styles with Art Van. That’s why we’re doing this.”


Jay Steinback

Rothman Furniture’s president and CEO Jay Steinback at the Magnolia Home by Rothman store at 1516 South Hanley Road in Richmond Heights on Nov. 1, 2017. Steinback is liquidating Rothman stores and will open four Art Van Furniture franchise stores in early 2018. (Photo by Lisa Brown

Steinback is scouting the St. Louis area for up to 10,000 square feet of office space for his franchise unit’s corporate staff, which will remain locally based.

“Rothman stood for family and locally owned and operated, quality, great pricing and community focused,” Steinback said. “None of that changes but the name on the building.”

Steinback will be Art Van’s largest franchisee, Art Van spokeswoman Diane Charles told the Post-Dispatch in a phone interview.

Art Van, which offers a mix of price ranges for first-time homebuyers and high-end furniture, began growing its store count about nine years ago by opening stores within a day’s drive and a 300-mile radius of Detroit.

When Art Van was acquired by Boston-based private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners earlier this year, Art Van’s executives said the sale could accelerate its growth. 

In addition to recently expanding its corporate-owned stores to 15 in the Chicago area, Art Van now is looking to grow its footprint within a 600-mile radius of Detroit. 

“It was a combination of St. Louis being a great market that we can service with our existing distribution network and finding a strong partner in Rothman’s,” Charles said about Art Van’s decision to expand in St. Louis. 

The Art Van chain is named after its founder, Art Van Elslander. 

“We plan to be the number one furniture provider in St. Louis with this partnership,” Art Van’s vice president of franchising Keri Durkin said Wednesday at a press conference in Richmond Heights. 


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