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Luskin brothers venture into sofa business

After more than a decade of selling large-screen televisions, the owners of The Big Screen Store want to provide the rest of your living room, with their new venture, The Sofa Store.

The Sofa Store, which opened April 2 in Towson, has a 50,000-square-foot showroom.

The 50,000-square-foot showroom, which opened April 2 in Towson on the so-called “Luskin’s Hill,” gives customers the option to customize the color, fabric and other design elements of any sofa or chair in the store, according to Kevin Luskin, who owns The Sofa Store with his brother Cary.

Kevin and Cary are the sons of Jack Luskin, founder of the Luskin’s electronics store chain and previously known to Baltimoreans as “the cheapest guy in town.” The Luskin brothers started the Big Screen Store in 1996 when Luskin’s went out of business.

The first floor of the store is stocked entirely with furniture by Iowa-based Flexsteel, while the second floor is dedicated to Canadian furniture company Palliser, making The Sofa Store the largest retail showroom for both manufacturers.

About 75 percent of the Flexsteel furniture can be customized with more than 1,000 different fabric/color options, while the entire Palliser stock can be customized with 800 to 900 different options. The other 25 percent is of Flexsteel is still customizable, but is limited to around 15 to 20 options, according to General Manager Jason Brager.

Customers can also combine the design elements of one piece, like the back and arms of a chair, with the legs of another.

While different fabrics vary in price, there is no extra fee for customization.

“Leather is going to be more expensive than fabric, but if I want to go from red to green, and it’s the same grade of leather, there’s no additional price,” Brager said.

The store also sells rugs, which can be ordered in an array of different colors and shapes.

Sofas and chairs take from two to six weeks for delivery, and rugs from one to two weeks. For customers who live within 75 miles of any of The Big Screen Store’s 16 locations in Maryland and Virginia, delivery costs a flat fee of $99.99.

Kevin Luskin said he had the idea for the store after ordering a couch for his home from one of the manufacturers that provides The Big Screen Store with its limited stock of home theater-oriented sofas and chairs. Luskin liked the traditional-style sofa, and thought it would be nice to offer ones like it in The Big Screen Store, but there wasn’t room, and Luskin thought it would detract from the store’s home theater focus.

“We already had the infrastructure in place, we already deliver sofas, we already have great vendor relationships, we already have trusted suppliers,” Luskin said. “We just didn’t have the space.”

Then, late last summer, Luskin was driving past a rental property he and his brother own that had been vacant for more than two years, when “bells went off.”

“That day I took it off the market,” Luskin said. “Eight months later, here we are.”