WARREN, Mich. — Art Van Furniture has made a big shift to lifestyle furniture displays and away from categories as it rolls out its largest fall offering of new product in its history.
Under the direction of new Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer Gail Galea, the Top 100 company has reset its Art Van floors, displaying most goods under six lifestyle themes: Mid-Century, modern, casual, urban, farmhouse and traditional.
A Max Home living room group, under Art Van's Detroit Sofa label, falls into the retailer's new casual lifestyle collection.
 It has also developed a new tagging system that will help consumers cross-shop lifestyles with confidence; and it’s all happening as the retailer rolls out new product this month — changing more than65% of its floor, a record refresh for fall, said Diane Charles, vice president of corporate communications.
In an interview with Furniture Today, Galea said the changes are all driven by customer feedback Art Van has been soliciting since she first joined the company starting as a consultant this past November.
“We started with the customer in mind,” Galea said, noting Art Van interviewed consumers (as well as sales associates) in-store and conducted other research to get a better feel for how consumer shopping behavior has changed and what their expectations for Art Van are now, “as we compete more so in an omnichannel environment.”
Art Van's Ron Biore or Gail Galea with a display showcasing the six new lifestyle collections.
With so many more choices today, shopping — particularly for home furnishings — has become no simple task, she said, adding that consumers liked the idea of “narrowing and building” product around a lifestyle, and they wanted the ability to personalize their selection, too.
“Much the way they dress, their home is a reflection of who they are how they live,” Galea said, adding that with the new lifestyle displays, Art Van’s aims to create a “simplified but smart approach to dressing your home.”
Art Van President and CEO Ron Boire added the new lifestyle collections “were created to help our customers eliminate confusion, save time and streamline their purchase decisions.”
A Magnolia Home dining room, shown here in Art Van's fall catalog, is showcased in stores within the retailer's Urban lifestyle area.
In a related move, the new tagging system that goes with the displays is color coded, so consumers can easily define product by lifestyle, but the tags also offer the consumer flexibility to step outside the boundaries, guided by the retailer’s expertise in product coordination. Casual lifestyle tags for instance note that the product pairs well with Art Van’s modern and farmhouse lifestyles. That, in essence, is giving the consumer permission and confidence to develop more of a personalized look or feel, Galea said.
Along with the new displays and tagging comes a large rollout of new product across all categories. Galea said Art Van called on existing, strong vendor partners as well as new sources for this.
In the case of its exclusive “Detroit Sofa” collection within the new Casual lifestyle area, the retailer worked with domestic upholstery resource Max Home — which already had been producing the upholstery for the collection — to expand with a sub-collection called Madison Avenue.
Art Van also added bedroom and dining room to Detroit this fall, developing the line through Michigan resource LJ Gascho, another long-time Art Van resource.
One of the new suppliers, on the other hand, is Palliser, which developed a custom-order leather upholstery program for the retailer — tied primarily to its modern lifestyle — that offers delivery within four weeks of an order.
Art Van is rolling out the lifestyle displays and new product to all 73 Art Van stores this month. Not all stores will have the complete collections, Galea said, but every store will have a minimum of four lifestyles on the floor.
Art Van also intends to make the program available to all of its retail banners, including Wolf Furniture and Levin Furniture, although for now it’s strictly an Art Van store effort.
And while the emphasis is on lifestyle displays, vs. what Galea called “commodity” or category displays, some important destination category displays remain, including bedding via Art Van’s PureSleep department and recliners (though even here, Art Van is illustrating how certain items mesh with a particular lifestyle, she said).
Art Van has been busy developing new product for PureSleep, as well, including an exclusive compressed mattress and sleep system it’s calling Adrenaline, developed and produced domestically, with a supplier Galea declined to name.
Art Van is launching the Adrenaline bed-a-box product with the rest of the fall lineup. Galea said that unlike traditional, lower-end bed-in-a-box product, Adrenaline brings a new level of technology to the category, including copper technology — described as Copper Surge Gel Foam on its website — with cooling properties and additional cooling technology built into the mattress cover. A queen-size mattress is priced at $700 online with free shipping.
Adrenaline also features an adjustable base that folds out from a box.