FurnitureConsignment.com Blog

“Does Anyone Want My Traditional Furniture?” Answer: Yes!

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, April 28, 2018 @ 12: 13 PM

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“Does anyone want this kind of furniture anymore?”

She gestured anxiously at a gorgeous sideboard in her dining room. Made by Councill Craftsman, her mahogany sideboard had been crafted with delicate corner inlays in a contrasting satinwood. The polished brass hardware had a rich sheen. 

Yes, I assured her, there is a buyer out there who will treasure your sideboard. 

Her question is a common one these days at FCG. Many of our consignors are downsizing and hoping to consign the high-quality furniture they bought for their spacious colonials. Now, they’re asking us in worried tones if there’s a market for well-crafted pieces of traditional furniture. 

Their worry is understandable. Their children don’t want the furniture, other than perhaps one or two small pieces for sentimental value. Mom’s traditional sideboard wouldn’t fit in a tiny apartment in Back Bay or a modern condo in the Seaport. And all the shelter magazines are full of photos and buzz words celebrating furniture that is “transitional” and “contemporary.”

“My daughter says furniture isn’t important to her,” one woman said to me despairingly a couple of days ago. “She’d rather travel and go to concerts. She ordered a bureau from an online retailer – the drawer handles don’t even line up – but she says it’ll do for now.”

Don’t despair, folks. Millennials are taking a lot longer to marry and settle down, it’s true, but when they do, they will want and need the traditional furniture. Why am I confident? Three reasons: proper scale, architectural fit and economic value.

Consider scale. Many of New England’s homes were specifically designed to accommodate traditional furniture. Try furnishing a wainscoted dining room in a four-bedroom colonial with a sleek low sideboard from Italy’s Cassina, known for its modern wares. It would look ridiculous.

Regarding architectural fit, most of our suburban homes have a very traditional floor plan. Unless you have the financial resources to hire an architect to move walls and open up rooms, you’ll need traditional furniture.

And, lastly, there’s the issue of value. Millennials’ click-bought furniture won’t survive the move from the first apartment or condo to the new home they will want in a couple of years. That’s when they’ll realize the importance of craftsmanship and quality.

Trust me on this one. Quality always reigns supreme. Well-made traditional furniture will have appeal for years to come.

How NOT to Work with a Designer

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, April 21, 2018 @ 08: 04 AM

 

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He’s quitting. One of Boston’s top interior designers, a regular at FCG, dropped that bombshell last week while he was browsing around the store in Natick. Collectively, our staff gasped. 

Quit? That seems impossible. One of the regions’ most influential designers, he’s done showhouses from coast to coast. His work has been featured in the top design magazines. And over the last decade or so, he has created extraordinary interiors for some of the most beautiful properties in the world. 

Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t disclose his name. And that’s in part because his reasons for quitting the business are so raw and honest. “I can’t do it anymore”, he confessed.

He still loves the work: the designing, the planning, the installation and the dramatic unveiling for the customer. All of it was a thrill. But in recent years things changed. Actually, he admitted, it was the clients. 

“I used to meet with a client initially to discuss the project,” he said. “They would give me a deposit and I would work uninterrupted, start to finish. At the end, the client would return to a fully completed vision and be dazzled.”

Now, he said, projects take twice as long. His clients want to weigh in on every decision. They want to approve the paint colors, the fabrics and every piece of hardware. His gift – bringing together disparate components in artistic harmony – is being nitpicked to a dreary end. 

Even more disheartening, clients are increasingly demanding of personal services, asking him to be a marriage counselor, a stock boy, a gardener, a pool cleaner, a babysitter, and a dog walker. “While you’re at the house…” is how those requests begin. 

Among his recent clients were a lonely widow, a newly married couple each of whom was reeling from a nasty divorce, and a demanding housewife distraught about a cheating husband. Their projects were exciting. But their troubles got in the way of his work.

His quitting is a lesson for all of us. When you hire a qualified designer, give him or her the freedom to do their job. Respect their professional boundaries. Your reward will be a work of art you get to make your home.

Honor and Respect: FCG Salutes the Patriots Among Us

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, April 14, 2018 @ 08: 10 AM

 

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He made his way through the showroom at a painfully slow pace, his daughter at his elbow for support and encouragement. Clearly, they’d planned for days this shopping excursion to buy him a comfortable recliner for his den. 

His hand shaking, he tried to unzip his tan jacket. “I’ll help, Dad,” his daughter said quickly. “Last week,” she explained to us, “he couldn’t get the jacket unzipped so he called the fire department to come over.” Her father smiled and shrugged. Old age requires new skills, among them humility and a sense of humor. 

His hat offered a hint of his long history. He wore a blue ball cap with a snappy beak. Emblazoned on it was the emblem of the U.S. Navy, a bald eagle proudly gripping an anchor in its talons. 

“Where did you serve?” I asked him. 

His shoulders straightened with pride, his voice boomed and his eyes twinkled. “The USS Tripoli, Korea,” he barked. The USS Tripoli is an amphibious assault ship that has carried some the nation’s most legendary fighting aircraft: Harrier II, Osprey, Venom, Viper, Knighthawk. 

His was a voice that had given commands and commanded respect. It was a voice that was strong, certain and unafraid of danger. His was a voice that saved lives. We all stood at attention for a few minutes to appreciate the long-ago courage and power of this old soldier. 

“Dad,” his daughter interrupted gently. “How about this chair over here?” He reluctantly turned away and followed her. Long ago, he’d been the one steering the ship. Now, frail but filled with a quiet dignity, he was learning how to follow others’ orders. 

For an hour or so, the two tried out every comfortable chair in the showroom, finally settling on a leather recliner. They bought it and made arrangements for delivery this weekend. From his new perch, he’ll settle in to savor coverage of the Boston Marathon and a new season of Red Sox. 

We’re proud to have played a small role in making his retirement more comfortable and enjoyable. He deserves it. He fought for our freedoms. He is one of the many we honor and remember this Patriots’ Day.

FCG’s New Adventure Starts with a Truckload of Furniture From a Major Retailer

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, April 07, 2018 @ 09: 56 AM

 

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As the massive truck backed up to the loading dock, I felt a moment of panic. Looking into the trailer, I could see it was crammed with furniture. An hour later, we hadn’t unloaded even half the truck. Where would we put all this furniture? 

Furniture Consignment Gallery is embarking on a new adventure. 

This week, we’ve partnered with a major internet furniture retailer to sell some of its items in our stores. Those items will include overstocked pieces, returns, and close-outs. Some of the furniture will have minor damage. Other pieces will be completely new. 

And, best of all, FCG will be pricing these items at a fraction of what you would pay on that company’s website. 

Who is the internet retailer? Well, we can’t say. But you’ll find lots of brand names and lots of bargains, all tagged in red in our showroom. To start, most of the retailer’s furniture will be in our store in Plymouth. Later, we’ll be bringing items to Hanover and Natick. 

Jammed into the truck this week was a grab-bag of stylish stuff: reclining sectionals, convertible sofa beds, desks, vanities, bedroom dressers, dining tables, accent pieces and more. As of this morning, we were still unwrapping like it’s Christmas. 

We’re racing to photograph each piece so you can check it out on our website furnitureconsignment.com. But I suspect a lot of these items will be sold before they ever hit the website. Our weekend shoppers are keenly aware of a bargain! 

So if you are looking to furnish a vacation home, a rental, a first apartment, a basement rec room or a loft, check out FCG Plymouth. Bring a truck and take it home. As per our policy, there are no refunds and no returns. Check it out. You won’t regret it.

Midcentury Modern is Shaking Up the World of Antiques

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

 

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“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

 

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“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

 

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“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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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“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.”