Furniture Consignment Gallery Blog

How FCG is Adapting to the New Rules of a Post-Covid World

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, May 29, 2020 @ 05: 22 PM

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What is life going to be like once the threat of coronavirus has eased for Americans?

Life, as we knew it, will be changed in ways large and small over the next few years. Our working lives will be different and so will our home life as we adjust to the new normal. Three months of lockdown have radically changed the way we work, shop, socialize and educate our children.

What exactly does all this mean for retailers like FCG?

That’s what’s on my mind these days. We’re looking forward to re-opening our three stores with appropriate precautions to guard the health of our employees and customers once we’ve gotten the approval of state authorities. But we’re also making small changes so that our customers can start shopping again with confidence.

After all, after three months of sheltering in place, there’s a new urgency about updating our homes and making them more comfortable – especially if lockdowns like the one we’ve lived through might be more common in the future.

One of the changes we’ve implemented recently will offer peace of mind to our customers when they buy furniture and home accessories online. Under our old policy, all sales – online and in the stores – were final. Now, we will allow customers to return items bought online under certain conditions.

What are the conditions? For one, any item purchased online can be cancelled within five days from the time of purchase. This newly relaxed policy gives our customers the opportunity to visit our stores and inspect the item before loading it into their cars. Once the item has left the store and our parking lot, that sale is final. We've also relaxed our policy for those opting for a local delivery. We hope this gives our customers more confidence when they proceed to checkout. 

Like every business in the U.S., we’re experimenting with new practices to better serve our customers. (Check out our Covid 19 Addendum to our Return Policy on our website. ) We’re trying to be responsive to their needs and concerns in this strange new post-virus world. We suspect there will be a few people who will push the limits of our newly relaxed guidelines but for the most part our customers understand and appreciate our policies.

Going forward, all of us are going to have to adjust to a new and radically different world. One thing you can count on: FCG is going to make sure you have safe access to the best high quality furniture and accessories in New England.

Pandemic Woes: Homeschooling and Running a Small Business Don’t Mix

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, May 22, 2020 @ 05: 27 PM

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“Your mask, young man,” I said wearily to my twelve-year-old son, Robbie.

Robbie was sitting in front of his computer in a quiet corner of our furniture showroom in Natick. He was meeting with his science teacher by Zoom. Around him were the tools of the virtual student’s trade: notepads, pens, pencils and a keyboard for his piano lesson later, also by Zoom.

I had to remind him about the mask because I was expecting a customer to drop by to pick up a chair she’d bought. Thanks to the coronavirus shutdown, Robbie’s been out of school for weeks. I’ve started taking him to work with me, trying to juggle earning a living and child care. Folks, in all honesty, it’s a farce.

Is this our new normal?

A little later, our customer showed up to claim her chair. That’s precisely when Robbie started pounding out a tune on his keyboard, a slightly off-key and out of rhythm version of the Beatles’ “Let it Be.” Our customer was generously forgiving of the cacophony. “I didn’t expect the live music!” she said as she hurried out the door. Her comments were muffled by her mask.

All day long, customers dash into our showroom and snatch up an item they’d purchased on our website. They seem almost guilty, as if they were squirrels making off with nuts that didn’t belong to them. As if patronizing any store but one deemed “essential” was a crime. As if beautifying their homes – in which they’ve been locked down for months – was shameful.

Meanwhile, shoppers are roaming freely the aisles of Walmart, Home Depot and Target, loading their carts with items that hardly seem essential for survival: paint, plastic bins for organizing playrooms, toys, grills and gardening tools. These big-box stores are thriving in the era of Covid-19.

Small businesses like ours will have a long and rocky path back to normal. Our clients are hesitant about shopping and fearful of lingering in our stores. Despite all the precautions we are taking to protect our employees and customers, we are doing battle now with a stigma because of the uneven restrictions on business during this pandemic. We’re going to be out of rhythm and off-key for quite some time. Thanks a lot, Governor.

No Pomp Under the Circumstances: A Covid Graduation

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, May 15, 2020 @ 04: 54 PM

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Wednesday evenings used to be my night out with the guys. After a couple of hours of basketball, I’d head to the bar with my buddies for beer and wings. Two years ago, I put that ritual on pause to go back to grad school. More specifically, I figured I’d beef up my business acumen with an MBA from Babson.

After a full day of work at FCG’s store in Natick, I’d tackle three hours of classes, group projects and homework every Wednesday. At 10 p.m., I’d drive back home where I ate leftovers in a dark kitchen.

Today is my graduation. There won’t be any cap or gown for me, for my classmates or for the millions of others marking an educational milestone this spring. There won’t be any trumpets, or ceremonial marches or tossing of mortarboards in the air. We are the class of Covid-19.

Instead, I’ll be seated in front of a screen for a virtual commencement. To every member of the class of 2020, I share in the sorrow of the loss of our graduation ceremonies and traditions. I’m part of you. I am you.

For two years, I had a vision of striding triumphantly across the stage and snatching my diploma from a professor draped in medieval robes. Afterward, I’d enjoy a nice dinner with my family at a fine steakhouse to celebrate. Those daydreams were crushed by the coronavirus pandemic.

While it couldn’t give me a graduation ceremony this spring, Babson did give me a terrific business education and innumerable life lessons. The first: education at any age is a gift. Maybe it seems even more so at middle age. For me, every walk across that leafy campus was a privilege. The classrooms were crucibles where we students forged ideas, opinions and friendships.

Once the stay-at-home orders are lifted, we grads will put our new skills and knowledge to work rebuilding our economy. Eventually, the pain of our losses in this pandemic will fade. But hopefully we’ll always treasure what we learned in the halls of academia. For my kids, and all the others whose education has been stalled by the pandemic, I can’t wait to hear those school bells ring, hopefully this fall. I’m sure none of us will take them for granted again.

No Greater Torture: Sitting at Home with Three Bored Boys for Seven Weeks

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, May 08, 2020 @ 07: 53 PM

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When I was ten, I traded my old dirt bike for a new and bigger Raleigh. It was a sophisticated silver and blue with gears that shifted smoothly. Most importantly, it had a rack on the back for newspapers and my basketball. Most days, I’d hit the courts for a couple of hours after I finished my paper route.

Even at that young age, I was busy.

I learned early on that I could be busy doing my stuff or I could be busy doing chores for my Mom and Dad. So I always had my day jammed leaving the bare minimum of time for my mother to assign tasks. Deliver papers and earn money? Check. Shoot hoops? Check. Sit on the couch and complaining of boredom? Not an option in my childhood home.

My early training stuck with me: it just kills me to sit idle. I can’t even watch other people sit. There’s no greater torture to me than to watch my own children sit around the house bored and listless. Yet, here we are, seven weeks into the coronavirus quarantine and that’s the situation.

I checked in with my mother the other day by phone, and we had a raucous debate about how and when to end the coronavirus quarantine. I’m eager to get back to work, with precautions, of course. She’s more on the cautious side. Everyone, she says, should just stay at home until the danger has passed. When I reminded her that I had three rambunctious boys who’ve been sitting around the house doing nothing since late March, she had to concede, though, that a situation like that would have broken her spirit.

If my kids aren’t back to school by fall, I’ll have to start protesting at the State House. I’ll probably even drag the kids with me. After all, there’s strength in numbers and it’ll give them a reason to stand.

Barbarians in the Aisles: Grocery Shopping in a Pandemic

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, May 01, 2020 @ 07: 10 PM

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Along with a dozen or so other good citizens, I’d been inching my way forward in the line to get into the grocery store for a good twenty minutes, taking care not to get within six feet of any other shoppers. Finally, I reached the head of the line when suddenly a wave of panic washed over me. Oh, no, the shopping list! I’d left it in the car!

Without the list, the excursion would be a disaster. On it was a week’s worth of food for the boys and my wife Diana. If I’ve learned anything from quarantine, it’s the critical importance of a dependable supply of comfort foods like Cheez-Its.

In a low voice, muffled because of the mask, I confessed my problem to the guard at the door. Shaking his head in irritation at my general stupidity while clearly enjoying the thrill of his new authority, he told me to go fetch the list but hurry back. These are barbarous times. He couldn’t promise to hold back the hordes for long.

I pulled my hamstring sprinting to the car, then hobbled back to the front of the line, waving my list in the air. I didn’t want any of the other shoppers to think I was pulling any funny business. A few nodded sympathetically. Others stared and bristled when I reclaimed my spot as numero uno.

Corona-shopping is fraught with tension even after you’ve gained admittance to the store. I was masked, gloved and following all the protocols, or so I thought, when another shopper gestured at me in a fury. Apparently, I hadn’t observed the directional arrow at the top of the aisle. It was a one-way street and I was going the wrong way.

“My bad,” I mumbled holding my hands up as if I was being arrested. Scowling, the other shopper yanked his cart out of the way as noisily as he could to alert others that there was a miscreant in Aisle 5. I slunk away deeply aware of my public shaming.

After a half-hour, my cart was filled to the brim, so I headed for the check-out line, yet another logistic social-distancing challenge. But, looking over the heap of food I’d amassed, I realized I’d missed the cereal section. How did that happen? Poor street signage? Traffic jam?

I weighed the anger of my fellow shoppers against the fury I would face from my kids if I were to return home without Frosted Flakes. Then, I wheeled my cart around and plowed toward the cereal aisle. I grabbed two boxes. A lady coming down the aisle glared at me. “Hoarder!” she said accusingly.

That did it for me. I ripped my mask off in frustration. “I have three boys,” I bellowed at her. “Do you want to come to my house to ration out the Frosted Flakes?” Clearly rattled by my wrath – or horrified at the possibility of a full-blown food fight over the Flakes -- she quickly retreated backwards.

I’ve learned a few lessons from my corona-shopping experience. First, I’m not very good at following the rules. Secondly, the world is full of enforcers and tattle-tales eager to punish those of us who aren’t so good at the rules. Maybe next time I’ll hit the liquor store first before entering the danger zone of a grocery store.

Is Your Home Suffering from Corona-Wear? Quality Home Furnishings are Immune

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, April 24, 2020 @ 04: 46 PM

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If your home is anything like mine, this corona-cation is starting to take a heavy toll on the appliances and home furnishings.

Our first casualty was the coffee bean grinder. Now that we’re working from home, it’s been running three times its normal rate. It blew a fuse a couple of days ago. The second victim was the vacuum, RIP Hoover. It died on Tuesday. Outside, the thinning threads of the basketball net finally gave way under heavy use by our three boys.

Our kids are home, which means twelve hours of high activity. Our house – and everything in it – is taking a beating. The hinges on the refrigerator door need replacing. The door to the cereal cabinet is crooked. The dishwasher is groaning and the buttons of the tv clicker have no numbers. They’ve been rubbed off from constant use.

So much for reading the classics under quarantine …

Our home is suffering from heavy-duty corona-wear. Which makes me doubly glad that we invested in good quality furniture bargains for our home at FCG.

I grimace at the thought of the alternative. Right about now, families that made the mistake of buying discount furniture are reeling at the explosion of yellow foam from their cushions. The legs on those cheap sofas are snapping off all over Boston.

Now is the time to make a promise to yourself. When this lockdown is over, you’ll want to redecorate with stylish, high-quality bargains at FCG. Take a trip to one of our three stores. We’ll be thrilled to welcome you back to our exciting showrooms. And you’ll never find yourself stuffing yellow foam into a trash bag again.

Covid-19 Quarantine Isn’t All Bad – If You’re a Dog, That Is

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, April 17, 2020 @ 05: 54 PM

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Perched in her window seat, Roxie, our Boxer, used to spend her weekdays watching leaves blow across the yard and birds flit from tree to tree. She’d have a few minutes of high excitement at the arrival of the mailman, but she maintained a dignified alertness for most of the day waiting to hear the screeching brakes of the yellow school bus in the afternoon.

Then, she’d explode in a paroxysm of joy, leaping off her perch, tail wagging, and racing to the door to greet 11-year-old Robbie.

Covid-19 has changed her routine. Quarantine, I realize, is a dog’s dream come true. Gone are the long hours of staring vacantly out the window watching for someone, anyone, to come home. Gone is the disciplined feeding regimen. Gone are the brief and dutiful games of catch sandwiched in between carpooling kids to sports and working at FCG.

Now, Roxie’s days are filled with long, lazy sessions of belly-stroking on the couch. There’s always someone she can bait into play time. I can hear her ball squeaking incessantly now. She’s having the time of her life.

Sharing lockdown with the family means more people to fool throughout the day. She’s perfected that innocently yearning look that signals near-starvation, so she is getting her bowl filled three times more than normal. But even with the upgraded meal plan, she’s leaner than ever.

That’s because she’s enjoying our new ritual of long, rambling daily nature walks. Her coat glistens in the morning sun as she bounds through the yard. Freedom! She runs giddily down the trail and into the woods.

While we wait impatiently for the end of the coronavirus quarantine, Roxie, I believe, is hoping this will be the new normal. Fun! Food! Attention! A dog’s life under lockdown is basically canine heaven.

Haircut Disasters and Other Tales of the Pandemic

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, April 10, 2020 @ 03: 26 PM

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A few years back, I got hooked on a few millennial trends. I fell in love with craft beer, I went back to grad school and I tried to grow a beard. I’ve since quit the beer though I can’t seem to deflate the innertube it created around my waist. The beard lasted all of a week, but it left me with a useful – if barely used – artifact, a beard trimmer.

Last week, after being cut off from civilization because of the coronavirus, Robbie, my 11-year-old son, started complaining about his long hair. Barred from visiting the barbershop, I decided to take matters into my own hands. After all, what dad doesn’t want to play with his power tools after a couple of weeks of lockdown at home?

Beard trimmer buzzing enthusiastically, I dove into the boy’s curly red mop of hair, and realized, after a few minutes, that I had the wrong tool – and the wrong customer. The results were disastrous. Robbie’s head looked like the top of Mount Washington: a lot of bald spots with a few tufts of scrub here and there.

What’s worse, I had one angry kid on my hands once he got a glimpse of the damage. “Dad!” he exclaimed, examining the extent of his near-scalping in the mirror. “Are you kidding me?”

Life is challenging these days. We are parenting pretty much in isolation, raising a generation of Covid-kids. While I’m confident my boys will make it through the pandemic alive, I have my doubts whether they can survive an interminable lockdown with their parents.

The scars will be deep. Hopefully, Robbie’s hair will grow back before his high school prom; he’s in sixth grade now. But I’m worried. How will he handle it when we have to trade his bike for a few rolls of toilet paper? Or his Xbox for a bag of dried beans?

These kids will have to be ingenious. They’ll inherit a world in which passing gas will be more socially acceptable than sneezing. They’re going to have to figure out how to procreate while maintaining a six-foot distance. Every home will have a wall rack for masks. Every family will have its own secret recipe for hand sanitizer.

Or, just maybe, things will return somewhat to normal – with a few tweaks. We’ll have a generation of kids with great cooking skills. The Frucci family will perfect its ziti. I’ll retire the beard trimmer, and Robbie will never complain about getting a haircut from the barber again.

10 Tips to Look Your Best in a Zoom Meeting. Office Slob, I’m Talking to You!

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, April 03, 2020 @ 01: 46 PM

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Thanks to the coronavirus, almost all of us are working from home now. That means we’re inviting our bosses, co-workers, staffers and clients into our kitchens and even our bedrooms via Zoom. Video meetings have exposed some of our darkest secrets and worst habits to the world. Who know the boss collected such garish tchotchkes? And what’s up with the greasy pizza boxes?

We’re all suffering in quarantine, but some people’s poor lighting and wretched décor is just making matters worse. Honestly, some of the most successful folks should be forced to hire an interior designer once the pandemic is over. Boston weatherman, I’m looking at you – and your souvenirs from India circa 1978.

Converting a corner of your home into a professional work setting is a challenge, made even more so because you didn’t have any time to shop for a decent lamp before every store shut down. Sure, you can get away with wearing your boxers while on a video conference call but don’t you think it is time to get rid of the lava lamp you used to have in your frat house, buddy? There it is, hideously aglow, on the dresser in the background while you’re meeting with your boss. Is that really the image you want to project, young ambitious banker?

Here are some tips for how to stage your home for your next video meeting or virtual cocktail party:

• Hide the dirty laundry from the camera view. Sounds obvious? You can’t imagine how common it is to see someone’s underwear draped over a chair nowadays.

• No lamps in the background. The glaring light is distracting on viewers’ screens. Your face will appear dark and shadowed. And, to be honest, lots of lamps are too ugly for prime time. Don’t position yourself under harsh pendant lighting; it creates shadows and makes you look tired and old.

• Don’t choose a wallpapered wall as your background. Solid colors, especially neutrals, will work better. If you’re in an unfinished basement, hang an unwrinkled sheet behind you to hide the gloomy concrete walls and the rusty water heater.

• De-clutter. Remove the jacket hanging behind you on the coat rack. Better yet, remove the coat rack. You don’t want its hooks behind you, coming out of your head like antlers. Clean away the remains of your lunch.

• Chose any setting but the kitchen. Seriously, do you really want to spend an hour of valuable work time scrubbing countertops and getting rid of the dishes piled up in the sink?

• Hide the family photos, the sports trophies, and the ratty blanket on the back of the couch. They’re distracting and your meeting is not show-and-tell. Curate your belongings so they don’t suggest anything you don’t want to disclose or discuss with your company, your competitors or your neighbors if you’re doing a virtual cocktail party. And don’t do a meeting with a squirming child in your lap.

• Try to minimize traffic in the background: the drooling dog and the toddler with a loaded diaper. Keep it professional. Lock the door and let others in the house know that you are in a meeting, if possible.

• Brush your hair and your teeth. Salons and barbershops have been closed for some time now, but that doesn’t mean you should be rocking that mullet. This isn’t the 1970s. Grooming is essential, especially when you’re going to be popping up on someone’s screen in high-def.

• Be mindful of acoustics. High ceilings, wood or tile floors and unfurnished rooms create a lot of harsh echo. Upholstered furniture, rugs and other soft furnishings will soften the sounds. Try to minimize noise from outside or other rooms. And make sure you have proper seating and position your laptop or other screen appropriately. The right video angle is important. You don’t want your co-workers looking up your nose for an hour and they don’t want it either.

Damn the Virus! Shuttered Small Businesses May Not Survive the Pandemic, but FCG Will See This Through

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, March 27, 2020 @ 06: 30 PM

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After our three stores were ordered to close on Tuesday, I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands. Route 9 in Natick was eerily quiet. Every parking lot on this vital retail corridor was empty. Every store was dark: the music store, the bicycle store, the piano store, the rug merchant. Then, I rounded the corner on Speen Street and caught sight of Home Depot.

Its parking lot was filled with cars. Plenty more were jostling for the occasional empty spot. Dozens of folks streamed in and out of the enormous orange store pushing carts loaded with purchases. Now that everyone has gotten bored with binge-watching cable and raking the lawn, Home Depot is suddenly an exciting getaway.

Damn the virus.

Sure, every resident in the state was ordered to stay at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus. But it looks to me like everyone has decided to shelter-in-place in Home Depot’s Aisle 7. Because that spare bedroom urgently needs some updating: a coat of paint, a few new lamps, a rug.

Up the road, Walmart also was bustling. America finally has all the time in the world for its favorite sport: shopping. I saw a mom pushing a cart loaded with toys towards her car followed by a pack of rambunctious kids, likely hers and half the neighborhood’s.

Damn the virus!

As a small business owner, I’m aware that the unbridled growth of these two retail giants have proven fatal for millions of small, family businesses like mine. Now that I’ve been sidelined by executive order, I feel something more akin to outrage. I’m watching these big-box retailers rake in the bucks while we, the so-called non-essential businesses, are forced to close our doors.

We family businesses have no choice but to sit, wait and pray for an end to this pandemic. Right now, we’re hoping to re-open in April, but that deadline might well be pushed back until May or June. Some of us may never open our doors again. Others will be forced into bankruptcy, a slower and even more painful death. Fortunately, FCG prepared for the next downturn and we'll see this through, but many have not.

Damn the virus!

Meanwhile, Home Depot and Walmart are likely radioactive with infection. Flattening the curve? More like fattening the curve at the same time they are fattening their cash registers. Walmart, Dollar General and other chain stores say they need to hire hundreds of thousands of workers to meet the demand of shoppers. How many of the employees I was forced to lay off will they poach before this is over?

Damn the virus!

Governor, on behalf of all family businesses deemed non-essential, I make a plea. If these big-box stores are allowed to remain open, they should follow protocol to limit the possibility of spreading disease. Among other things, that means outfitting their workers in protective gear and limiting the numbers of shoppers allowed in the store at one time. Shoppers should be required to wear masks and latex gloves.

Heck, Governor, I think you should level the playing field even more to preserve the financial health of sidelined small businesses. Why not limit the sales of non-essential products? Is it worth risking the health of this great state so bored folks can tackle their home-improvement projects or fill the toy box? Make it safe to shop and you will flatten the curve.

Damn the virus.