Snowfall could be windfall for furniture store customers

Chicago Tribune
Customers of Art Van Furniture may benefit from today's snowfall

Sunday's blizzard may be causing headaches and stress for many Chicagoans, but about 1,900 customers of one furniture retailer are celebrating Sunday's snow, and with good reason: They will receive a full refund on their purchase.

Art Van Furniture, a Michigan-based retailer with six Chicago-area locations, offered a deal to customers who bought furniture or mattresses in their stores Jan. 1, 2, 3 or 17. If more than 3 inches of snow fell at O'Hare Airport on Sunday, Art Van would refund the purchase price, sales tax and delivery fee.

The retailer is preparing to pay about $2.4 million to customers in the Chicago area, Toledo, Ohio, and Fort Wayne, Ind., said Art Van spokeswoman Diane Charles.

"We're really excited this is happening," Charles said. "If you think about it, we'll have about 3,000 happy guests. Hopefully they'll really talk about their good experience."

About 1,913 of 3,000 customers visited Chicago-area stores.

Art Van took out an insurance policy on the "Let It Snow" promotion from Lloyd's of London, and Charles said the company will have to wait for official certification on snow totals before confirming customer refunds. Customers who are eligible will be notified this week, and refunds likely will be processed in March, Charles said.

One Chicago-area woman bought about $14,000 worth of furniture during one of the promotion-eligible days, Charles said.

The retailer said about 2,000 customers shopped on New Year's Day because of the promotion, about twice as many as the typical day.

Art Van sells living room, dining room and bedroom furniture, plus mattresses, at midlevel prices. Founded in 1959, it has 94 stores across the Midwest and plans to open two more Chicago-area stores by June, in Downers Grove and Naperville.

Last year, Mundelein jeweler P.K. Bennett Jewelers promised to refund holiday customers more than $150,000 if it snowed at least 3 inches between midnight and noon on New Year's Day. But while it snowed quite a bit, the jeweler's insurance company concluded levels didn't meet the threshold.

poconnell@tribpub.com

Twitter @pmocwriter

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