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Clint Engel

Art Van adding backyard departments to all stores

Art Van Furniture is moving deeper into the outdoor furniture category as it rolls out Art's Backyard departments in all of its 34 full-line showrooms.

The St. TropezThe St. Tropez outdoor group by South Sea Rattan gets prominent display in the atrium of Art Van Furniture’s flagship Warren, Mich., store as the Top 100 company introduces Art’s Backyard to consumers.
The Top 100 company said the new area has the look and quality of "high-end catalogs at Art Van prices," with what it calls the largest in-stock outdoor furniture selection in the state.

More than 1,000 items are featured, including goods from Michigan company Lloyd/Flanders, as well as from Woodward, Jimmie's Rustics, Treasure Garden, North Cape International, Siesta/Sinoc, South Sea Rattan and other sources.

Earlier this month, Art Van opened Art's Backyard areas of roughly 4,000 square feet in several of its largest stores in Warren, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Novi, Taylor, Sterling Heights, Petoskey, Ann Arbor and Traverse City, Mich. Other locations eventually will have departments ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, and all full-line stores will have the category represented, the company says.

Art Van has carried outdoor furniture before but it was a limited lineup focused on lower price points, said Jim Sica, director of seasonal products for Art Van and Art's Backyard.

He projected the outdoor category could grow to $10 million to $20 million in annual sales within two years.

On its website, Art Van is showcasing outdoor with goods such as a promotional sevenpiece dining set for $299, a five-piece wrought-iron Woodard dining set for $899, and the Lloyd/Flanders Weekend Retreat collection with a sofa in Sunbrella fabric that retails alone for $1,599.

Sica said traffic and sales have been brisk since the launch earlier this month.

"The better goods are way outpacing the promotional goods in sales and even units," he added.

In a press release, Art Van founder and Chairman Art Van Elslander said today's outdoor furniture today is built from more durable materials than in the past, which means it "will look as good in 20 years as it does today with no or low maintenance. Plus there has never been a wider selection of sectional sofas with deep seats, oversized chairs, ottomans with extra storage, coffee tables and end tables plus accessories to match the fabric on the cushions of the furniture."

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