Art Van Elslander took a single furniture store in 1959 and built it into an empire, before selling it to a private equity firm in 2017. Van Elslander died early Monday after battling cancer. He was 87.

“My family is heartbroken by the loss of our father,” said Gary Van Elslander, President of Van Elslander Capital, and Mr. Van Elslander’s eldest son. - Art Van company Facebook post

The furniture empire allowed Van Elslander to fund charitable donations, including entire hospital units, and to save the Detroit Thanksgiving parade.

“Furniture may have been Art Van Elslander’s business, but Detroit always has been his heart,” Duggan said. “Art’s kindness and generosity seemed to have no limits. There will never be another ‘Art Van.’ -Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in the Detroit News

Much like Mike Ilitch with Little Caesar's, Archie A. Van Elslander was born in Detroit, did a hitch in the service, and opened his first furniture store in Detroit at Gratiot Avenue and 10 Mile. The business grew to the point that when he sold the company last year to a private equity firm, Thomas E. Lee Partners, Art Van had 181 stores and is now has eleven stores in the Chicago market and the Detroit News reports Art Van just moved into the St. Louis market last week.

The Detroit News says Van Elslander was the father of 12 children. Services are pending.

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