Midcentury Modern is Shaking Up the World of Antiques

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, March 31, 2018 @ 08: 27 AM



“That chair is valuable!” I blurted out. “In fact, it’s an antique!” 

One of our customers had brought a midcentury chair into the store. She’d gotten it as a newlywed in the 1960s. The wood had a beautiful patina, but the leg was broken. She wanted to know how much it would cost to repair the chair. More importantly, was it worth it? Could she consign a fifty-year-old chair at FCG? 

“Fix it,” I said. “It’s worth it.” 

Ten years ago, I would have been wrong. But things are changing rapidly in the furniture business. Over the past decade or so, the value of what we used to call antiques has plummeted. At the same time, the interest in midcentury furniture has soared. 

Antiques dealers are struggling to adjust to the new reality. Not so long ago furniture had to be at least a century old to qualify as “antique.” Now, 1960s and even 1970s pieces are labeled antiques and commanding prices to match. A Civil War-era dresser might sell for a fraction of what it commanded in the 1980s and 1990s. But a saggy 1950s Knoll sectional will go for thousands of dollars. 

The New York Times recently addressed the trend in an article titled “How Low Will Market For Antiques Actually Go?” Some of Manhattan’s most famous antique stores are changing their names – and their wares – to distance themselves from the antiques market. Even the renowned Winter Antiques Market changed its rules, eliminating the century-old restriction and allowing pieces of any age – even contemporary ones – in the show. 

So what does this shift mean for Furniture Consignment Gallery? And what does it mean for you, our customers? 

Some family heirlooms are now essentially worthless except for sentimental value. You won’t be able to consign your 1920s mahogany dresser or the 19th Century linen press you inherited from your grandmother. But, on the bright side, if your home is filled with quality pieces from the 1950s, 1960s and even the early 1970s, you could be sitting on a gold mine. Literally sitting. 

Don’t despair about the fate of your older pieces. And don’t get rid of these heirlooms just because they have lost resale value. We at FCG are big proponents of creative interior design that mixes pieces from different periods. Pair an intricate 18th century tea table reproduction from Baker with two sleek, unfussy midcentury modern chairs and you’ve got an intriguing design.

At FCG, we’ve got the pieces you want to create an updated and fresh look. Stop by one of our stores this weekend and imagine the possibilities!

“Alexa, Do My Homework!”

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, March 24, 2018 @ 07: 47 AM



“I’m taking the dog for a walk,” I announced loudly through gritted teeth. “When I come back, I expect your homework to be done.” As I yanked the door open, I turned slowly and deliberately to deliver the threat of last resort for the modern parent. “If not,” I said in a deep and serious tone, “technology will be off limits.” 

Somehow, my threat didn’t seem to faze Robbie, my nine-year-old redheaded son. A master of homework avoidance, he seems to know precisely how far to push before I exercise the nuclear option, that is, a lock-down of video games and iPads. 

Over the past four years, Robbie has perfected tactics for dodging school assignments. Lazy? Not at all. In fact, he’s very diligent in concocting creative excuses. He’s more like the safecracker who seems offended that someone would actually test his superior skills at lock-breaking. 

In truth, I have to admit I sometimes find his shenanigans entertaining. He’s ingenious. What nine-year-old can feign carpel-tunnel syndrome, wincing at the imaginary wrist pain?

But at that moment, I’d had enough of the nightly battle over homework.

I took the dog for an extra lap around the block to lower my blood pressure. It was a fine evening and, besides, I wanted to give the kid a few more minutes to finish. When I got home, Robbie greeted me with a snaggletooth smile and a catch-me-if-you-can smirk. 

He waved his paper at me tauntingly. The assignment was to write a report on the San Andreas Fault. Lo and behold, the entire page was filled, the writing was concise and informative, the handwriting neat. He even had his name on it. I was shocked.

Then Collin, Robbie’s 15-year-old brother, sauntered by. Apparently, he had an important message for me. I knew that because he made eye contact – a rare event in the life of a high school freshman – and he took out one ear bud. 

“Robbie asked Alexa,” he said. Alexa, the voice-activated personal assistant/speaker created by Amazon, has been sitting on our countertop since Christmas, dispensing informative tidbits about the weather, sports scores and other trivia. Apparently, Alexa is an expert on geography, too. 

I wanted to care, but by that point, I didn’t have the energy. This, I decided privately, would be an issue best handled by the authorities, who would be far more intimidating, less exhausted and more effective than dear old dad. 

The next day, Robbie was summoned into the hall for a lecture on plagiarism. His teacher, of course, knew immediately his work was not his own research. With appropriate consequences for the homework delinquent, she nipped that practice in the bud. 

Robbie isn’t the only one exercising creative options. We’ve seen shenanigans from potential consignors at Furniture Consignment Gallery, too. Over the years, I have seen nameplates from top furniture companies affixed to obvious knockoffs. Other consignors have sworn their dining sets were made by Ethan Allen or Baker, two top furniture-makers, when in fact they were made by less prestigious companies. 

At FCG, trust is a two-way street. We do our best to authenticate pieces of furniture when we catalog our items and before we put them in the showroom, but buyers also need to take responsibility and undertake some due diligence. Our consignors are mostly honest and well-intentioned, but every now and then, one slips through. Those folks could benefit from a stern talking to in the hallway.

Photos a Go-Go: A Customer Shares the Story of Her Life

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, March 17, 2018 @ 10: 24 AM



“Wait! Wait! Just one more minute!” 

Standing in the center of our showroom, she was tapping her smartphone feverishly, trying to find a photo of her dining set that she wanted us to sell for her at Furniture Consignment Gallery. She had more photos than the century-old archives of National Geographic. 

Patiently, I watched as thousands of photos whizzed by on the screen. Her life was flashing before my eyes, and, well, I have to confess it wasn’t exactly riveting. It was sort of like watching a decade of silent home movies – for someone else’s family. 

But I couldn’t break away out of sheer politeness. As the years of photos unspooled, in a last-ditch effort to keep me interested, she decided to provide a stream-of-consciousness commentary. That’s when things got interesting. 

“My son’s new girlfriend. See the tattoo? Kind of trampy, don’t you think? Look at the fringe on those boots. She probably has a diamond in her belly button. What does my son see in her?” 

“Here’s my dog, Fluffie. Short for Fluffernutter. He died three years ago. We buried him the yard, then we sold the house and they put in a pool. I hope they didn’t dig up Fluffie.” 

“This was taken at my niece’s First Communion. The priest was a doll even after a kid threw up on him at the reception.” 

“That’s my husband’s favorite arm chair. You wouldn’t want that. He’s fat and the cushion is flat. That man should lay off the beer and Doritos.” 

“Our new car. We got a great deal on it. Then my nephew spilled a slushie all over the back seat. Sticky, sticky, sticky. A nightmare. Why didn’t my sister offer to clean it up?” 

Finally, she conceded defeat. “I can’t find that photo. Can I email it to you when I find it?”

Great idea! 

Getting to know our customers is one of the best things about owning FCG. In this case, I got the full family download, which was in retrospect pretty hilarious. So stop by our showrooms. Bring your phone with photos of the furniture you would like to sell. Show us your dogs, your family and your fascinating collection of garden gnomes. 

Or you can shoot us an email with photos of your furniture. Either way, we’re good.

Respect Is a Two-Way Street. Let’s Remember That In The Heat of Battle

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



Earlier this week, those of us who watch early-morning news on television were riveted by a drama at a ski resort. A five-year-old girl slipped off the chair lift and was dangling perilously above the mountain, held aloft by a ski instructor seated next to her who’d grabbed the hood of her pink jacket. The ski patrol sprang into action, and caught the girl as she fell, unharmed, into a tarp they’d unfurled underneath the lift. 

Her parents, though, weren’t exactly thankful for the heroism. Instead, they angrily complained in a television interview about “a lack of information” from the resort. Somewhere, I’m sure there’s a slavering pack of lawyers licking their lips at the money-making prospects in this incident.

I’m outraged. Seriously. This family was lucky. First, a capable ski instructor reacted instantly to catch a falling child. Then, well-trained rescue workers dashed to the scene. A tragedy was averted. Still, the family found reason to publicly criticize the resort. To me, that’s ingratitude. 

Why does this incident sting me so much? 

At FCG, we pride ourselves on superb customer service. From our salespeople to our delivery guys, everyone is expected to go the extra mile for our customers. Which they do frequently and without question. But from time to time, a customer will test the limits. 

A couple of weeks ago, a woman bought a piece of art from one of our stores. She left angry because she hadn’t managed to wrangle an additional discount off the print, which was already an excellent value. When she got home, she hung the art improperly and it fell, smashing the frame. She raced back to the store in a rage and demanded we repair the art she’d broken. 

What’s gone wrong in our society? Nearly a century ago, business visionaries adopted the motto “the customer is always right.” When did that concept get so distorted? 

Even L.L. Bean, legendary for its customer service, has thrown in the towel. Earlier this year, the Maine retailer announced a change to its famously generous lifetime returns policy. 

Turns out, people were abusing the company’s generosity, buying old products at yard sales or plucking them from the trash, then returning them for cash or new items. Bean said such fraud has doubled in the last five years. Bean’s CEO concluded: “The numbers are staggering. It’s not sustainable … not reasonable … not fair.” 

At Furniture Consignment Gallery, we work hard to ensure your satisfaction. Yes, problems happen from time to time and we always try to take the high road. Like L.L. Bean, I’m making a stand for things reasonable and fair. We’re all at our best when both sides exhibit respect, patience and understanding. 

And if someone saves your child from death or devastating injury, express your heartfelt gratitude, shed a few tears – and say no more.

5 Tips for Couples Who Own – and Run – a Business Together

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, March 03, 2018 @ 09: 14 AM



Lured by the irresistible drama of marital combat, our staff gathered around us. Diana and I were squaring off over where to place a newly consigned desk. She wanted it moved to the back corner of the showroom with all the other office furniture. I thought the desk was so stunning that every single shopper who stepped in the door would want to gaze upon its beauty and buy it immediately.

As our argument escalated, one heated volley after another, I could see out of the corners of my narrowed eyes that our staffers’ heads were swiveling from side to side like onlookers at Wimbledon. Finally, in a final verbal stab meant to break my stubborn opponent, I turned to the staff. “Well,” I challenged them. “What do you think?”

Bad move. I knew it immediately. Everyone froze in place, panic on their faces. It was a loser’s move, a last jab to save my pride. The staff knew as well as me: Diana is the merchandising expert at FCG. Arranging showrooms is not my forté. What was I thinking? I did a quick about-face. 

“You’re right,” I conceded. Then, with as much dignity as I could muster in the moment, I looked at the staff and said, “I’ll help move the desk to the back.”

Diana and I have been working together for thirteen years at FCG, and we’ve learned a lot about running a business together. Here are some of our secrets to making it work:

Create a division of labor: I handle human resources, operations, and accounting. I approve all incoming consignments. Diana is responsible for merchandising. Among other things, she’s the authority on how our three showrooms look and operate. She also is our new-product buyer, including art and accessories. I do my best to stay clear from her areas of expertise and she from mine.

Create space: Diana and I are rarely together during the business day. This is by design. Among other things, it prevents meddling in a partner’s area of expertise. I tried to muscle in on the desk decision because I happened to be passing through the store in Natick. Too much of any kind of meddling would strain our respectful working relationship.

New Tasks? Divide and Conquer: Diana recently took on the challenge of managing our Instagram account, an increasingly important social media tool for home furnishing companies. As our business has grown, we’ve learned that dividing up new responsibilities is a necessary practice. And we’ve learned to trust each other to act in the company’s best interest. No second-guessing.

Make Major Decisions Together: Though it’s important to have separate roles and responsibilities, certain mission-critical decisions should be made together. Desk placement? Certainly not. That was a waste of valuable energy. But there should be thoughtful debate about big issues like how to manage growth.

Use and Appreciate Your Biggest Asset: Your spouse, like you, has committed time and energy to the business. No one else has as much to gain or lose. Learning how to make those big decisions together is a vital skill. You’ll make some mistakes, but you’ll learn together. Having an experienced and trustworthy partner in your business is a luxury. Protect that partnership at all costs.

Consignment Shopping? What Will the Neighbors Say?

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, February 24, 2018 @ 07: 54 AM



“Delivery?” she frowned. “No! We’ll pick it up.” 

She’d just bought a very large dresser, and from my point of view, she seemed over-confident about her ability to move it out of our showroom and into her home. For one, she and her husband weren’t exactly brawny. In fact, they looked more like gentle little hobbits than muscle-bound movers. 

Her insistence was making me nervous. What if they dropped the dresser? What if it got stuck on the stairs? “That dresser is pretty heavy,” I cautioned. “You’re going to need some furniture padding and some straps to secure it in your vehicle.”

I saw them exchange anxious looks. Then, reluctantly, the woman said, “I suppose we should consider delivery.” There was a long pause, then she asked: “Do your trucks have your name on them?”

“Yes!” I said, beaming with pride, explaining that all our cars and trucks have our logo in the same royal blue as the awnings on our three stores. “You can’t miss them!” I added. 

Then I suddenly realized the obvious. She didn’t want our trucks parked in her driveway announcing to the neighborhood – in vivid blue, no less – that she’d bought pre-owned furniture from Furniture Consignment Gallery. She was afraid of being the subject of neighborly gossip. 

I was stunned for a moment. 

Then, I thought, how mistaken she was. From my point of view, buying consignment signals quite a different message. Here’s what I think it means to have one of our trucks pull into your driveway: 

• You’re smart! You know you’re buying brand-name furniture for a lot less than retail. 
• You value quality. You don’t want the warped particle-board stuff that you have to assemble yourself. FCG’s pre-owned furniture is top quality from the world’s best furniture companies.
• You’re environmentally conscious and you reject consumerism. New furniture raises your carbon footprint. Pre-owned furniture is a form of preservation, which benefits the environment.
• You have style. You don’t settle for the standard bedroom suite or dining set. That’s like buying a suit off the rack. You’re creative, mixing mid-century pieces with contemporary or classic with industrial. Whatever the mix, it is your unique style statement. 
• You are confident. Knowing that you found a good value and high quality at FCG, you’re happy to educate your neighborhood. When one of our trucks pulls into your driveway, you’re proud to say, “I found a real treasure at Furniture Consignment Gallery.”

Spring in the Air? Yes, FCG’s Showrooms are Bursting with New Furniture

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, February 17, 2018 @ 09: 59 AM



She threaded her way through a showroom full of show-stopping furniture with nary a glance and came to a stop in front of the service desk in Hanover. Not even the super-cool Chesterfield sofa in a stunning peacock blue with pewter nailhead trim caught her eye. She was, in a word, focused. 

“We’re moving,” she said bluntly. “Finally, the nest is empty! Can you sell our furniture?” 

Late February and early March – depending on the weather – are the start of the peak selling season for housing in and around Boston. Warmer weather and longer daylight are factors. And many homeowners want their families settled in a new home before the start of school in September. 

At FCG, we know how closely the furniture consignment market follows the housing market. By mid-February, inquiries about furniture consignment start to soar. In fact, FCG could probably predict the strength of the market based on those inquiries. Long before local realtors get a call, we often know which homes will be going up for sale. 

This spring looks like a doozy. Already, we’re getting a flood of gorgeous new pre-owned furniture into our stores. This is the start of the fun season at FCG. Everyday, our trucks bring stunning new pieces into all three of our stores in Hanover, Natick and Plymouth. 

So whether you’re buying, selling, or simply shopping for a new look for your current home, this is the best time to check out the furniture at FCG. Stop by our stores. Or, if you want to monitor all the new items while you’re at work, check out our website. It is updated daily with beautiful close-up photos of all our items in stock.

Inspired by the Olympics? Find a World of Furniture at FCG

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, February 10, 2018 @ 08: 24 AM



The largest ever Olympics kicked off with a colorful spectacle on Thursday. For the next two weeks, athletes from all over the world will vie for gold, silver and bronze in winter sports from curling to bobsled. 

But Pyeongchang isn’t the only place where the world comes together in spirited competition. 

Right here in the heart of New England, Furniture Consignment Gallery has three showrooms where the world’s artisans and craftsmen compete to bring you a stunning variety of pieces for your home.

The Scandinavians are represented by furniture known for clean lines, organic textures and modernist designs. One of the most popular pieces is the Stressless Metro chair by the Norwegian company Ekornes. Our Natick store has that chair and matching ottoman in high-quality white leather and chrome. 

The French are represented by such top brands as Roche Bobois and Ligne Roset. Our Natick showroom, in fact, this week has a contemporary three-cushion sofa in beige by Roche Bobois. 

We also have Italian furniture from Natuzzi, Oriental accessories, and maple furniture made from wood harvested in Canada. 

Should the French figure skating team inspire you with their elegance, consider adding a pop of French Country style to your decor. Inspired by the efficiency of the German downhill ski racers? Rolf Benz captures just that sleekness in its designs. Our stores often carry its furniture. 

But if your heart is with the home team during these Olympic Games, we have plenty of gold-medal-worthy furniture designed and made here in the U.S.A. 

In Natick, we have a queen spindle bed in tiger maple crafted by fine furniture-maker Stephen Swift of Nantucket, a third-generation family business. In Hanover, we have a banded mahogany inlaid server with a gallery rail made by Councill Craftsman, made in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A Super Bowl Sale to Cheer for the Pats? In Minnesota-speak, You Betcha!

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, February 03, 2018 @ 07: 59 AM



It’s Super Bowl Weekend, and we’re all in at FCG. No, that doesn’t mean chips-and-dip in our showrooms. We’re going one better. We’re hosting a ‘12-for-6’ Sale. 

For those out there who don’t get the football analogy, I’ll spell it out. We’re rooting for #12, that is, Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots as he leads his team to, hopefully, Super Bowl Victory #6. 

So what does that mean for you, furniture lovers? This weekend,  almost until kickoff on Sunday, FCG is offering 12% off all furniture and accessories with white tags and 6% off all furniture and accessories with blue tags. 

Our showrooms are filled with great consignment finds from functional used furniture to posh heirlooms, all tagged in blue. These treasures come to us from folks who are moving, downsizing, or looking for a change in their home decor. Nearly 80% of our inventory has blue tags.

We also offer new items that are well-priced, stylish, and necessary, all tagged white. That includes new leather recliners from Hooker Furniture, a requirement for comfortable game-day festivities. Also new: upholstery by Sam Moore, mattresses by family-owned Gold Bond, and thousands of lamps, mirrors and decorative art work. 

While FCG’s consigned merchandise operates on a markdown schedule, white-tag items do not. So this is a great opportunity to get that new recliner you’ve been ogling for weeks. After all, it’s not every day that we get to celebrate the home team playing a Super Bowl (though my kids think it’s the Pats’ due every year).

How Can I Sell My Furniture Fast? 5 Tips

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, January 27, 2018 @ 08: 28 AM



He barreled into our showroom, yanking the door open with such force it nearly ripped off the hinges. His wife followed sheepishly. “I’m looking for a quick sale!” he announced loudly to everyone in the showroom. “Quick! Get it?” 

Hanover was bustling with buyers, and all heads turned to watch as he stomped to the front desk. He whipped out photos of the furniture he wanted to consign and, I’ll admit, it was tempting. All of his pieces were high quality and well-kept. 

After five minutes, though, I knew this deal wouldn’t work for either one of us. For one, he was demanding prices so inflated that his furniture would never sell, never mind speedily. Then, he unleashed a list of other demands, including the specific spots where he wanted his items placed on the showroom floor. 

Ultimately, he left in a fury. Everyone in the showroom breathed a sigh of relief. 

Our consignors want to sell their furniture fast. And we want that for them, too. Here are some tips on how to do it:

1. Price to sell: Furniture is not an appreciating asset. Your furniture lost 30% of its value the day it was delivered to your home. Every year afterward, it loses value. That’s true even if you keep it wrapped in plastic. 1985 is ancient history in furniture years. Tiny nicks and dents also take a toll. But buyers will overlook imperfections if the price is right.

2. Find the right market: I recently got a call from a homeowner in northern Maine. Her house is full of Barbara Barry, luxurious furniture with a Southern California vibe. She knew her rustic area, dotted with rustic log homes, wouldn’t yield a lot of buyers. At FCG, sophisticated buyers with more contemporary tastes will snatch it up.

3. Good photography is essential: The internet makes it possible to sell anything online. But quality photos are a must. Furniture needs proper lighting and multiple shots from good angles. Dirty laundry in the backdrop? Shabby wallpaper? That’s a turn-off for buyers. At FCG, we pride ourselves on crisp, clear photos of furniture from multiple angles.

4. Placement is important: Buyers don’t want to look at furniture that’s stacked up like the plumbing supplies at Home Depot. They want a clean, stylish and safe environment in which to shop. They don’t want dust, grime or last night’s garlic chicken lingering in the air. They want to see furniture in spotlessly clean and beautifully staged rooms that whisper quality. Just like our showrooms.

5. Think like a buyer: Yes, you can borrow a marketing tactic from BMW and call your furniture pre-owned rather then used. But if it’s been stored in a musty attic and buyers have to climb into the rafters and over a stack of board games you won’t get a quick sale. No buyer wants to navigate an obstacle course. But most of all, buyers want a bargain. They don’t want to haggle with an unreasonable seller.

Selling your furniture is difficult. We understand that. Most of us have an intense emotional attachment to our homes and everything in it. All those holiday dinners around the dining room table! The heirloom desk at which you negotiated that big deal!
Difficult as it may be, you should listen to the advice of a trustworthy consignment service like FCG. We’ll help you achieve your goals.