by Peter Jakey-Managing Editor
The Onaway Art Van Furniture store will be closing at the end of May, according to an April 5 press release.
Company officials state the store has been “challenged” from a sales and profitability standpoint. They also believe customers have been migrating to the stores in Petoskey and Alpena.
The store employs 25 associates, which includes drivers, office staff, sales people and a store manager. “Every effort will be made to find new positions within the company for Onaway associates,” Friday’s press release states.
Art Van took ownership of the Onaway store January 2011.
“Art Van, like all retailers, constantly reviews its store portfolio to ensure that all stores are contributing to the overall success of the company,” said Diane Charles, director of communications in Warren. “The decision to close any store is always a very difficult decision to make as it impacts individual associates, customers and the community at large.
“Art Van Furniture has tried to make the (Onaway) store successful through many extra efforts including an extensive remodel, different merchandising strategies as well as enhanced marketing efforts. Unfortunately, in spite of these efforts, and investments, the store has not been a profitable part of the overall company.
As part of the April 5 press release, the company announced expansion in Illinois and Ohio, as well as the opening of a store in Gaylord this fall.
At Wednesday morning’s Onaway City Commission meeting, questions about the fiscal impact were asked.
“The tax base is still there,” said mayor Gary Wregglesworth. “My thought is, as long as they building stays intact, on the roll, it won’t affect us. The question is, if they are going to continue to keep that building there, or if they start tearing things down it will.
“You’re going to lose the personal property tax,” said city manager Joe Hefele. “They’re one of the biggest personal property tax payers. The real property tax does not change based on occupancy. That does not make it any better, but those are the facts. We will be out personal property taxes when inventory is gone.”
A full-page ad from Art Van president Gary Van Elslander appears on page 10. He stated the company will continue to provide service and warranty support through other locations.
They plan to either sell or try to donate the building to a nonprofit organization.