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 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.

St. Louis-based KAI Design & Build is providing construction services for the building renovations.

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 last week 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.”

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. 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. 

Art Van’s new vice president of outlet merchandising, Craig Gourley, a longtime furniture industry executive, has local ties: he previously worked at May Department Stores, which was formerly based in St. Louis. 

“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. “Rothman’s is well respected in the community and we are confident they will accurately represent the easy and delightful experience that Art Van customers know and love today in our home markets.”

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


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