Loves currently operates 26 stores, with 927 employees, according to Damiani, including hundreds of former Art Van staffers. Damiani told Crain’s the company is on track to get to 32 locations across Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, with most of the positions being concentrated in Michigan. The additional stores will take up space in former Art Van locations.
Locally, Loves has locations in Warren, Shelby Township, Royal Oak, Waterford, Livonia, Port Huron, Westland, Canton, Taylor and Ann Arbor. The company opened its 26 locations in less than three months, including 17 in Michigan. The company’s first store, in Canton, opened Sept. 7.
Damiani declined to give any specific figures, but said sales have been strong and company officials are encouraged by what they’re seeing in the stores.
“At a time when people are spending more time at home than ever, customers want to invest in their homes,” Damiani said. “We think the diversity of our product has supported strong sales.”
Damiani acknowledged the uniqueness in opening a furniture retailer during a pandemic. Loves locations are following all state and federal guidelines, he said, to ensure employees and customers stay safe and healthy.
“Because of that, customers have felt safe shopping in person. As we all spend more time than ever at home, we are focused on helping people love where they live and making home feel like a retreat in a hectic world,” Damiani said. “We’ve seen that because of the current environment, customers want to update and invest in their homes.”
To combat competition from local furniture giant Gardner-White, Loves, along with utilizing television, radio and digital advertising, is taking a new approach to the furniture-buying experience, Damiani said. What makes Loves different from Art Van, Damiani said, is the company’s focuses on clear pricing, highly trained home and sleep specialists, and a diverse assortment of products and styles that reflect how people live.
“… We’re a new company building a furniture experience from the ground up,” said Damiani, adding Loves will focus on controlling what it can as it relates to competition. “We’ve created a seamless customer experience between shopping online and in-store to make it easy for customers to shop.
“We’ve opened 26 stores in 75 days and tripled our store footprint since our initial launch. We have had the opportunity to provide jobs to some of the most knowledgeable and experienced individuals in the furniture business who were seeking positions in the wake of Art Van closing.”
US Realty Acquisitions LLC, founded by investor Jeff Love, in May acquired the assets and leases of the Art Van stores out of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware for $6.9 million.
Damiani would not give a specific figure, but said his company has invested millions of dollars to renovate, refurbish and build out each store, focusing on the customer experience. He said Loves’ company policy is to not disclose revenue figures.
Loves is committed to investing in the communities they serve, too, Damiani said. The company has charity partnerships across Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Loves has established a partnership with Gleaners Community Food Bank. Starting Nov. 16, the furniture retailer will launch an in-store food drive at all its metro Detroit locations to help feed families during the holiday season.
Art Van for years served as lead sponsor for Detroit’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Gardner-White took over the role following Art Van’s bankruptcy.
“We understand the reputation Art Van built,” Damiani said. “We’re working hard to do the same.”