Furniture Consignment Gallery Blog

Creature Comforts at FCG? Yes, but Not These Creatures

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, January 12, 2019 @ 11: 34 AM

 

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After the last customer of the day meandered out the door, it was time for the familiar ritual of closing up the store. Ron, our senior sales manager, was making the rounds that night, turning off the lights, fluffing the occasional pillow and straightening a picture that was askew on the wall.

In the gentle silence of the top floor, he took one last look around before going down the stairs when suddenly he caught a glimpse of two beady eyes glaring at him in the dark. “Oh, no!” Ron whispered to himself. “We’ve got a squirrel.”

Cute as they are burrowing for acorns in the backyard, a squirrel in the showroom is downright annoying. They’re happy enough outdoors during the spring and summer, but once the temperature drops they’re ingenious at finding a way to wriggle inside for warmth. This one apparently found a tiny porthole somewhere to gain entry to FCG.

Still, Ron is fearless when it comes to rustling wild creatures. He should have been born with chaps, a lasso and a ten-gallon hat. He grabbed a broom. Yee-haw, the rodeo was on.

This squirrel wasn’t going to be cast out without a fight, though. Ron chased that critter around the fifth floor for fifteen minutes, darting around the furniture while blocking off escape routes with the broom. Finally, he managed to herd the squirrel into the stairwell, down five flights and out the side door. Both of them were gasping for breath after that chase.

Ron dropped the broom and collapsed into a leather recliner, sweat running in rivulets down his face but triumphant at his victory. After an 11-year career at FCG, he still reigns supreme as our top salesman. Who would have thought he’d have major skills as a critter rustler?

Our showrooms are warm and inviting all winter long, and we do our best to try to make everyone who comes through our doors feel welcome. Our hospitality doesn’t extend to members of the wild kingdom, though. Good thing we’ve got a cowboy on staff.

Away Goes the Manger! Christmas Clean-up is in Full Gear

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, January 05, 2019 @ 10: 33 AM

 

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We landed at midnight, trading the warmth of Savannah for the bone-chilling cold of Boston. Diana and I had enjoyed a brief vacation – sans kids – to attend a wedding on Hilton Head Island with a few bonus days in Savannah. The bride was stunning, the groom was dashing, the shrimp gumbo was amazing. On the home front, grandparents were able to keep our boys alive while we partied like we were 22.

Tired as we were after our trip that night, I could see the determination in Diana’s eyes as we pulled into the driveway at 2 a.m. Come sunrise, she would be a woman on a mission. She was ready to round up the reindeer and all the other flotsam and jetsam of Christmas. 

After a too-brief sleep, I awoke to the roar of the vacuum cleaner. Diana was already in a whirlwind of tree hauling and ornament packing. I desperately needed coffee to process the abrupt shift from soft sea breezes to the unrelenting hustle of the home front.

By the time the caffeine hit my system, Diana was outside, energetically tackling the holiday display. She looked like a bandolero with loops of extension cords wrapped around her. Under each arm was a plastic reindeer, their wide eyes frozen in an expression of alarm. 

Honestly, I was overwhelmed just watching her. Christmas, 2018 was being carted off to storage. But part of me was relieved, too. Other than a few extra pounds around the waist and a beefy credit card balance, we were on the path to normalcy.

I left Diana to her mission and headed out the door to work. Welcome, 2019! We’re back and FCG is ready to rock.

An Historic Heirloom Chest is Beautifully Broken and Perfectly Imperfect

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, December 29, 2018 @ 11: 58 AM

 

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Just after Christmas, Diana and I decided to slip away for a warm-weather escape to Savannah, Georgia. There, we decided to take a tour of the Owens-Thomas House, a beautifully restored Regency style mansion built in 1819. 

Our tour meandered through the main house and the carriage house which had been used as slave quarters. Built by Richard Richardson, a wealthy merchant and bank president, the house had amenities extraordinary for that time. Among them was a primitive but ingenious system of drains. “The Owens-Thomas House had indoor plumbing before the White House,” our guide announced with pride.

Not surprisingly, Diana and I were fascinated by the home’s period furniture. In every room, there were beautiful examples of design and craftsmanship: solid wood chairs, game tables, writing desks, secretaries, magnificent mirrors and portraits. 

As we rounded a corner, we noticed a stunning mahogany chest-on-chest with a missing piece of corner molding. Our eyes met knowingly. We were both thinking the exact same thing. The piece was even more beautiful because of its imperfection. 

Its patina was strong and vibrant. Its carvings were elegant. This piece would be a treasure in any home. But we knew that most people would be distressed by the missing corner piece. Were this chest to land in one of our stores, it would sit for months waiting for a buyer. 

These days, consumers unwittingly purchase new furniture that has fatal flaws beneath a seemingly perfect exterior. The market is flooded with pieces with flimsy joints, fake wood and plastic parts that will not stand the test of time. Meanwhile, well-crafted older furniture is being cast off because of a few dents or scratches. 

At FCG, we have pieces similar to those in the Owens-Thomas House. We believe that period furniture has an warmth and strength that can be found only in things crafted with care and preserved with love. Sometimes, old drawers and creaky doors are worth treasuring. 

In our fragile world, we need these heirlooms. They anchor us. What if those who inherited the Owens-Thomas house had decided they were tired of the old mahogany furniture? Imagine the tragedy of filling the house with IKEA. 

Absurd? Yes, but our society is doing this every day. We’re shedding family history in favor of assembly-line imports. Very few people are taking the time to think this through. What are we losing when we shed these old treasures? 

The next time you visit FCG, walk a little slower through our showroom. Ponder the history of the period furniture. Don’t overlook a piece because of a scuffed corner, a faded finish or a surface scratch. Instead, embrace the flaws. Smell the aged wood. Imagine its history. Like our competitors, our showrooms offer lots of shiny and new pieces. But the old gems are worth preserving, too.

Do You Hear What I Hear? It’s My Mother-in-Law on the Phone

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sun, December 23, 2018 @ 07: 34 AM

 

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With the kids off to school and the house quiet, Diana and I finally had the time to sit down at our kitchen table for an important conference call earlier this week. Right in the middle of the conversation, her cell phone jangled with an incoming call. Diana glanced at the caller ID, smiled, then mouthed to me, “Not urgent – I’ll call back later.” 

She turned off the ringer and set the phone to buzz. But the caller was nothing if not persistent. Every few minutes for the next half-hour, Diana’s cell phone buzzed, paused, and buzzed again. Then, apparently determined not to be thwarted, the caller switched to the house phone. 

It was her mother.

My mother-in-law is not woman to be put off when she has news to impart. Texting isn’t her thing. She requires direct interaction. Apparently, she had information so vital that it required an all-points bulletin that morning. Finally, unable to reach Diana, she decided to call our son, a sophomore, in High School. 

Moments after our phone stopped ringing up popped a text from Collin, whose History class was interrupted for this mission-critical update. 

“Nani called to tell me to tell you that she got Dad a bottle of bourbon for Christmas,” his text said. “?”

To some, that scenario may seem absurd. But Diana is from Kentucky, the bourbon capital of the world. To Kentuckians, bourbon – and especially this particular brand and year of bourbon – is a matter of utmost urgency. So it is completely understandable that my mother-in-law could not risk a delay in getting this momentous message to her daughter: “The bourbon is coming, the bourbon is coming!”

‘Tis the season. Don’t believe the song blasting across the radio airwaves “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Who doesn’t love this gift-giving frenzy? Best of all is the knowledge that you’ve found just the right thing for someone important to you. When you’ve found it, you just want to share the joy. 

Even our kids are beginning to realize it’s even more fun to give than to receive. “Hey, Mom,” Robbie announced brightly at dinner the other night. “I bet you can’t guess what I got you for Christmas!” He’s dying to tell her, I know. Keeping that secret till Dec. 25 will be almost impossible for a ten-year-old who is just discovering the joy of finding a perfect present for Mom. I’m betting he’ll spill it soon. 

We see a lot of that eager anticipation in our stores in these last few days before Christmas. Yesterday, we had a newlywed couple looking over bedroom sets at our store in Hanover. “I love this one so so much!” I overheard the young woman say shyly to her husband. “But I think it’s a little more than our budget will allow.” 

He looked at me and grinned. I suspect he’ll be back to FCG on his own this weekend to buy a present that will thrill her this Christmas. Merry Christmas to all our customers and may you experience the joy of giving to and receiving from those you love.

‘Tis the Season for Tipsy Guests and Unwelcome Company

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, December 15, 2018 @ 11: 19 AM

 

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She was frozen like a statue, staring into space, next to an enormous satinwood dining table in the showroom. While it isn’t uncommon to encounter distracted shoppers during the holidays, she seemed to be in an especially deep state of shock. 

“May I help you?” I asked a bit nervously, and she flinched. 

“Christmas dinner!” she gasped. “Thirteen people! My new daughter-in-law just told me she invited her father and his new girlfriend to join our family and, well, I don’t know how I’ll seat everyone! Besides, I didn’t like Scrooge or his little sweet tart when I met him at the wedding. Her dress was too tight. Seriously!” 

‘Tis the season for a meltdown. You may have Christmas planned down to the last popcorn ball, but there’s always going to be a last-minute snafu to tangle up your tinsel. You have issues? Here at FCG, we can help. In fact, our showroom elves have been hard at work this week coming up with solutions for almost every variation of holiday trauma. 

Consider the woman whose foyer rug was destroyed in an unfortunate accident involving a tipsy neighbor, a tray of cheesy nachos and a bottle of red wine at her annual holiday cocktail party. 

New rugs can cost as much as $100 per square foot. On FCG’s website, she found an extensive selection of rugs – from classic to modern – ranging in price from $15 to $35 per square foot. (FCG’s rugs are clean and pet- and stain-free.) When she raced into the showroom to pick up her rug, we had it rolled up and ready to go. She barreled off happily, vowing to switch from Cab to Chardonnay in 2019. 

But wait, there’s myrrh …

One customer found out her brother-in-law was planning to visit at Christmas, but he was too broke to stay in a hotel this year after losing a fortune on bitcoin. With her guest room already booked, she thought there would be no room at the inn – until she found a sleeper sofa perfect for the basement rec room at FCG.

And while her brother-in-law had lost his shirt in the market, she fretted, he hadn’t lost his entitled taste for luxury. Which is why she was so grateful to discover the newer sleep sofas are engineered for comfort and durability. 

And what about the woman who had to find a seat at her family table for Scrooge? Well, there’s always opportunity in adversity. A new and larger table might fit the bill. When I last peeked into the showroom, she was mulling the purchase of that gorgeous satinwood table, a Baker Furniture Collector’s Edition with three leaves that would comfortably seat all her guests. New, the table was $28,000. Our price: $8,999. 

Now that’s how to have a merry little Christmas – even if you have to invite Scrooge!

Take the Pledge: I Will Not Use That Product on my Furniture!

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, December 08, 2018 @ 10: 52 AM

 

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“Hmmmm,” our furniture repairman said with a frown as he studied the surface of a mahogany dining table in our showroom. “There’s a lot of gunk here. I just wish more people knew how to take care of their furniture.”

Our repairman is an expert at restoring furniture. Scratches and stains vanish under his careful attention, and he usually succeeds in bringing back the gleam that a piece had when it was fresh from the woodworker’s bench. Not every piece is worth the cost of his time and expertise, but some are. His TLC is good for the furniture and good for the consignor who typically gets a higher price for their piece.

Fine furniture deserves careful maintenance. Keep yours looking its best with these tips from our expert:

Quality furniture is carefully finished at the factory. Skilled woodworkers put down layer upon layer of a vibrant protective finish in a multi-step process. You don’t need any additional protection or moisturizer to preserve your furniture.

These finishes are flexible. Wood expands and contracts in your home as humidity levels rise and fall throughout the seasons. Factory finishes are designed to stretch and compress with the wood. Of course, you don’t want your furniture baking in direct sunlight over a prolonged period. Closing the blinds or regularly rotating pieces when possible will delay the breakdown of these finishes over time.

Vigorous dusting can scratch your furniture. Dust acts like sandpaper when it is rubbed into a finish. So don’t let dust build up. Scratches typically don’t penetrate beyond the surface into the wood, so most can be buffed out. But this is best left to professionals who have the know-how and the equipment. Buffing typically strips off the top layer of finish. Once that layer is removed, your table will look like new again.

Our repairman has a pet peeve, though: Pledge.

Yes, Pledge, that ubiquitous yellow can of lemony spray beloved by homeowners since the 1950s. Pledge claims to be an oil that moisturizes, cleans and protects, and, to be sure, it does lay down a pretty decent shine for a few days.

So what’s the problem? For one, it doesn’t protect your furniture. The factory took care of that. Pledge imparts a temporary shine, but it also leaves an oily residue that shows fingerprints and attracts dust. Should your furniture get scratched, your repairman will have to remove that gunk before he can get to work.

Which is why our repairman was grumbling as he surveyed that tabletop. “I’ve got to wash this goo off with mineral oil,” he said, grimly staring at a dark, sticky film. “What a mess!”

So toss that yellow can from your cleaning-supply closet. To clean your furniture, simply dampen a clean soft cloth with water. Using circular strokes, wipe the piece down. You’ll preserve your furniture – and your wallet will thank you, too.

Christmas Carols for Five Weeks? Can I Hear a Big Ho, Ho, No?

Posted by Jay Frucci on Mon, December 03, 2018 @ 10: 46 AM

 

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Let’s face it. The Pilgrims get short shrift. No sooner do we finish carving the turkey than we’re all thrust into the frenzy of Christmas. We haven’t even resolved the light meat-dark meat dilemma or any of the family quarrels before we’re off, dashing through the snow, towards the Really Big Event, Christmas.

Or at least that’s how it felt a few days ago. Prancing up and down the aisles of our Natick store the day after Thanksgiving, our store elves draped garland and ribbon until the place was transformed into a glittering wonderland. Gingerbread houses dotted the mantles. Wreaths hung off every door. Then they fired up the satellite radio. Soon, Christmas tunes were blasting through the showroom.

Within a couple of hours, I was burned out on chestnuts roasting on the open fire. No one seemed to be rockin’ around our Christmas tree. Voices singing, let’s be jolly? Ho, ho, no to that proposal. Baby, it’s cold outside? Frankly, I’d rather suffer the bitter winds of winter than listen to another round of Feliz Navidad.

How long would the torment last? I looked at the calendar. Thanksgiving arrived early this year which lengthens the holiday season to an unendurable five weeks. My inner Grinch suddenly rebelled. “I’ll be in jingle-bell hell if I have to listen to one more hour of carols,” I thought.

The big question, though, would be the elves’ reaction. I took a deep breath and summoned our staffers to an impromptu meeting. “Hey, team,” I said, “how about we kill the Christmas music for a few weeks? You guys good with that?”

Much to my surprise, my proposal had lords a-leaping and ladies dancing all over the showroom. Rob, one of our young staffers, immediately flipped the music back to Jimmy Buffet. Frosty, the Snowman, melted away in Margaritaville. Sure, we brought him to life and now he was just slushed ice. But he’ll be back again someday.

Just give us a few weeks, please!

Amazon and AmEx: Small Business Killers Don a Holiday Disguise on ‘Small Biz Saturday’

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, November 24, 2018 @ 09: 03 AM

 

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Thank heaven for Amazon. Before the rise of the retailing giant, I was always racing to the store for duct tape or office supplies. Now, I’m a pretty devoted online shopper. When a brown box shows up on my front porch, I’m grateful. For a small fee, Amazon saves me hours of wandering the vast fluorescent-lit aisles of Home Depot or Staples. 

Still, it’s hard for me to feel good about Amazon’s newfound support of small business. The retail giant recently launched a merchandising program that will highlight its small-and mid-sized business sellers this holiday season. Amazon seems to want to cash in on the goodwill generated by the hugely successful Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is a shopping event created eight years ago by American Express as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In contrast, Small Business Saturday – always two days after Thanksgiving – is meant to encourage folks to patronize small and local brick-and-mortar retailers. The event helps some shops ring up enough cash to stay in business. 

Still, I must confess: Small Business Saturday makes me a little cranky. 

Long before the launch of Small Business Saturday, there’s been tension between small business and American Express. That’s because AmEx charges higher fees than Visa, Mastercard and all those rewards cards are subsidized by your local Mom and Pop shops. Many small retailers operate with extremely thin profit margins, and credit-card fees can make the difference between barely surviving and thriving. 

And while I love the convenience of Amazon, it’s hard to ignore the fact that millions of small and mid-sized businesses have been crushed by the retail giant. This holiday season, Amazon says it intends to highlight its small business partners. My guess is that for every shop it promotes, Amazon is helping to kill off five others. 

Consider this little-known strategy: small businesses must wait for over three months to get their money from sales generated through Amazon. Yep, Amazon has over $3.7 billion in accounts payable. How many small shops die waiting for that check? This equates to what is essentially a massive interest free loan that further fuels Amazon's growth.

In my view, every day should be a small business day. Consider shopping first at the local businesses that support your children’s sports teams, your neighborhood events and fundraisers that are important to you. Your Turkey Trot was undoubtedly paid for in part by some small shop in your hometown. 

So stop by those local shops and say hello. While you’re there, browse the inventory. Invite your friends, too. You might just enjoy it more than shopping online by the cold blue light of your computer screen.

Procrastinators, FCG Is Ready to Rescue You from Holiday Humiliation!

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, November 17, 2018 @ 09: 55 AM

 

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The winds were howling, ramming the house with an icy mix of rain and snow and waking me from a sound sleep. It was only mid-November, but winter was delivering a reminder of her ruthless power in the first nor’easter of the year. 

And, speaking of power, that’s what we lost minutes later. As the house fell silent, I knew we were in trouble. No power meant more than just a cold breakfast. No power meant no sump pump. Without it, the basement would flood within an hour. 

I’d planned for just such a crisis – but not fast enough. I bought a back-up generator a few days ago. I hired an electrician, but he wasn’t scheduled to get to our job for a week. I needed a quick, creative solution. 

In FCG’s warehouse, I knew we had a small spare generator. But that was ten miles away, and the storm wasn’t subsiding. A job like this required a partner, so I woke Diana. We lifted the garage door manually and took off down the sleet-slick streets. 

The warehouse was filled with beautiful pieces of furniture but it, too, was without power and dark. Somewhere in there was the generator. Armed with a flashlight, I peered under dressers and dining room tables. The clock was ticking. I could imagine water trickling into the basement back home.

Suddenly, I spotted the generator – behind a giant mahogany executive desk. We hurried to wiggle it free, then heaved into the car. As we raced home, I worried: would it start? Generators can be notoriously cranky. But luck was with me. The generator sprang into action with a reassuring hum. I connected the sump pump and it gurgled into action. 

By then, it was 3 a.m. Heaving a sigh of relief, Diana and I climbed back into bed. A few minutes later, power was restored. 

So maybe you’re like me and you almost got your act together. Maybe you’ve invited a houseful of guests for a big feast and you suddenly realize that the old dining set just won’t do. Maybe you don’t even have a dining set and the alternative – wobbly card tables borrowed from the neighbors – is just too awful to contemplate. 

Well, even the best laid plans go awry from time to time. Just remember: FCG is here for you. Our showrooms are full of dining sets in every size and style so you don’t have to ask your uncle to perch on a lawn chair with a plate of turkey in his lap even if it would serve him right after all the lame-o jokes about your cooking. 

And if you can help me quickly wire a generator, let me know.

Thanksgiving Menu 2018: Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Some Sturdy Furniture

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, November 10, 2018 @ 02: 32 PM

 

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Buckle up, folks. It’s T-12, and everyone’s already on edge.

By that, I mean we’ve got just twelve more days till Thanksgiving, that gluttonous national holiday when families gather around the dining table to gnaw on some turkey while waging verbal combat over politics, religion, sports and any number of other formerly innocuous topics. Even the weather is off-limits with the looming threat of global warming.

So what topic is safe? Admittedly, there are very few.

Consider what happened to my family a few years ago. We’d driven sixteen hours to Kentucky to spend the holiday with Diana’s family. I stayed awake by listening to radio talk shows. One, in particular, inspired me. Thanksgiving, the host proclaimed, was the perfect time to discuss end-of-life issues with older relatives.

So I decided to broach that topic with my in-laws over pumpkin pie. "Have you made your final plans?” I asked cheerfully.

"Glad you asked!" Papa, an Army veteran, said forcefully. "I've given this some thought. And I'd like my ashes to be spread over Nancy."

His wife – Diana’s step-mother – is named Becky.

Pandemonium erupted.

Startled, Papa hastily explained that Nancy, Kentucky is the home to one of the nation’s oldest national cemeteries. Some 4,000 veterans are buried there, and he wants to be one of them.

My advice: be prepared this Thanksgiving. After all, we’re a divided nation.

Short of issuing a gag order to your most outspoken family members, I think the best defense is to make sure your furniture is sturdy enough to survive the fray. Depending on the heat of the topic, your gathering may include some banging on the table or upending of chairs. A really rampaging relative may start jumping on the sofa. If you're making purchases this weekend, think for a moment that discount furniture might not make it to desert.

For the best selection of high-quality, well-made pre-owned furniture in New England, stop by one of our three stores this weekend. In honor of Papa and all veterans, FCG is offering all shoppers 15% off any item in our showrooms now through Monday.

*Image from "Cheers" television show.