Behind the Counter: The Sofa Store

At just 29, Jason Brager manages 16 Big Screen Stores. Six weeks ago, he added the new Sofa Store on Luskin's hill to his list.

Believe it or not, business at isn't declining. In fact, with a new concept that recently opened, it's reclining.

The Sofa Store opened atop Luskin's Hill, just across from the Big Screen Store, in a 50,000-square foot space last month. The new store offers furniture in all shapes and sizes, and shoppers can work with designers to build customized furniture for any living room.

The store is owned by Kevin and Cary Luskin, owners of the Big Screen Store and, yes, of those Luskins.

We spoke to Jason Brager, who at just 29 is the general manager for the new Sofa Store and all 16 Big Screen Store locations in Maryland and Virginia.

Tell me in a nutshell what you guys do.

Obviously, we sell seating, and then stuff to go with it. The rugs, the tables, the accessories. We don't do dining rooms or bedroom sets or matresses like a conventional furniture store. And everything is customizable at different levels So you can at the very least pick the color, the cover, what's on there, and in some cases you can even customize the arms, the legs, so you can really make it your own.

If you walk into most furniture stores, even , which is huge, I think they have 12... seating groups on the floor, which is about the same size as this. We have about 150.

I was looking around upstairs and noticed there were seats with cupholders and desktops and lights. I never thought there were so many options for these things.

They even have them with holders for iPads now.

You've been seeing a lot of requests for that?

It literally is an option that came out a couple of weeks ago.

You're the manager for all 16 Big Screen Store locations as well, and you're only 29. Tell me how you came to be in such a position so young.

The Big Screen Store is my family business. My stepdad and uncle started it 16 years ago now, so May of '96. I started working in the stores doing sales, doing warehouse work, doing deliveries, installations, everything, during breaks in college. So I knew that after college, that's what I wanted to do.

I started on the sales floor the week after I gradutated, spent about four or five years on the floor and was our top salesman after time.

That's where I started, still selling, but hiring and training, then I started taking on more and more.

What's it like to be so far at so young?

Very rewarding. The Big Screen Store was something that I've worked, but it was never mine. This is more mine. We started with an empty building, watched it get through the entire process, starting with hiring the designers and meeting the vendors; starting with a Craigslist ad four months before we opened and hiring a team of people.

Was this your brainchild?

It was my uncle's concept in terms of selling the seating. In terms the final format of it, initially they just wanted to put seats in here and sell them and I said that doesn't work. You have to show stuff as it is in your home.

The reason Big Screen Store is successful is because we don't just sell TV's. We sell the cabinets. We sell the seating in there, and we sell the sound system. You walk into Best Buy and you see a wall of TVs. Nobody has a wall of TVs in your home. You have a TV sitting on a credenza and a couch and we set up Big Screen Store like you would set up your home.

People are not very imaginative. People buy what they see and they buy it the way that they see it. So to just throw seats in here would be creating the wall of TVs at Best Buy and I didn't think that would be successful.

Every business has a story. Do you want to share yours with other Patch readers? Contact editor Nick Gestido (nick.gestido@patch.com) to be the featured business on Behind the Counter.


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