Art Van employees committed to showing up despite losing jobs, money, and frustrated shoppers

What makes the men and women who work the warehouse and the floor of Art Van Furniture show up for work every day? Their jobs have an endpoint, they've been told severance isn't happening, and customers are frustrated with the process.

They're doing it for you, the customer. The shopper looking to score a great deal on a sectional, new bed, or another piece of furniture of your home. Because, according to at least one store, that's what Art Van Elslander would have done.

For the past 14 years, Mark Mayfield has taken pride in his career. He started at Art Van in the back and rose through the ranks to become a manager at the store in Dearborn. Knowing that the job he's poured himself into is almost over is a bitter pill to swallow, but he still shows up every day.

"To see this come to an end it's heartbreaking," Mayfield said. "It's very sad. Each day that I see we're starting to break stuff down, emotion sets in. I knew (founder) Art Van (Elslander)very closely. It wasn't just a job. He was family, he cared about his employees, he cared about his customers. I could go to his office and talk to him."

With the end in sight, the employees could call it quits. They could stop showing up and working with extremely frustrated customers. But they haven't yet. They're still going through and helping shoppers capitalize on the liquidation deals, even though Art Van management sources say they're not getting benefits of severance, health insurance, or life insurance.

Liquidation underway at Art Van but past customers left with questions

"Our guys are still here with me and they don't make a lot of money. They're here from 9 in the morning to 9 at night and you know what they're doing? They're not doing it for the money. They're doing it for the people, they're doing it for the people of the city of Detroit because that's who Art Van was," Mayfield said.

So he's asking for shoppers to just have a little bit of patience and grace with the workers who are almost out of a job.

"Just be patient with us. Understand we don't want this to happen. People who have been here this long, we love Art Van and Art Van always takes care of its customers," said Daniel Coleman, another Art Van manager.

"We have a great team everybody is doing the best we can, of course, with the amount of people pouring into the store we are understaffed no matter what," said employee Mike Faraj.

Art Van was sold to private equity firm Thomas H. Lee in 2017. Last week, the company announced it was liquidating all assets and on Monday, the company officially filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

"To all the politicians out there if you're going vote for something, vote for something like this. There's 3,800 jobs out there, 200 stores. If there's anyone out there who can come give us support and help us," Mayfield said.

Now as their last day looms closer, these employees will make sure they're honoring Art Van Elslander's legacy until the very end. 

"One thing I can do to save his legacy, I'm going to work until the last day when these doors close. I'm going to do it for Art because if he was standing right here, he would do it for me," Mayfield said.