Following a solid rising first quarter of 2012, more people are looking to the retail furniture business and one Baltimore-area duo has taken that leap.
Kevin Luskin and his brother Cary opened the Sofa Store in April in a long, vacant shopping center Kevin owns in Towson, MD, to try their luck in the furniture business, the Baltimore Sun reports.They 50,000-square-foot showroom on Cromwell Bridge Road once belonged to their father, Jack, who owned Luskins, a TV and appliance chain, before he retired. The store offers hundreds of styles of fabrics and furniture designs and has been so successful in such a short time that the brother team is already eyeing other sites in the Baltimore market for one or two more locations."This concept is working," Luskin told the Baltimore Sun. "I think it's a great opportunity. The people remaining in the furniture business are survivors."The idea for the store sprang from the success of The Big Screen Store, which he and his brother started in the mid-1990s and which now has 16 outlets in Maryland and Virginia.“The 2008 housing market crash led to the closure of many furniture stores — so many that room was left for new ideas and new retail concepts,” Luskin said.“Consumers today are looking for affordable ways to customize furniture in their living rooms and great rooms,” Luskin said, adding that sales of those furnishings are nearly recession-proof.Prices range from about $600 to several thousand dollars for a leather sofa. Customers can mix and match designs and choose from hundreds of upholstery fabrics."It's time for me — my sofas are done," said Janine King, a Pasadena resident in search of new living room furniture. She said she has been looking for nearly a year but hasn't found much selection in her color choice, navy blue.King, who expected to just pop into the Sofa Store for a few minutes but ended up spending nearly an hour, said she was glad to see more than just the browns and earth tones she has found elsewhere."It's a big store with a lot of choices," King said.Sales at U.S. furniture and home furnishing stores jumped to nearly $8 billion last month from $7.1 billion in May 2011, according to estimates recently released by the U.S. Department of Commerce."These encouraging results are taking place in a continued difficult economic environment but are reflective of improving consumer sentiment," said Clarence H. Smith, president and CEO of Haverty Furniture Companies, Inc.Consumers may not be shopping for furniture for large new homes at the rate they were during the housing boom, but they want to freshen up their existing residences, said Tom Mapp, general manger for Havertys in Northern Virginia and Maryland.
"We've been looking at this market for a long time, and looking for the right opportunity," Mapp said.
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