Furniture Consignment Gallery Blog

The New Reality of Retail: The Trial and Tribulations of Managing Stores Amid a Pandemic

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, June 26, 2020 @ 05: 42 PM

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“Hmmmm,” the young woman said skeptically.

I’d just explained our strict new furniture pick-up policy to her and apparently it wasn’t quite strict enough for her. “I haven’t had any contact with anyone outside my immediate family since March,” she said. “Covid is scary, and I’m taking every precaution. I’m bleaching the bananas that the grocery store delivers!”

FCG understands – and sympathizes. These are difficult times, and we take our customers’ health concerns seriously. We’re going to great lengths to calm their fears. Sometimes, though, those great lengths just aren’t enough.

Our customer had bought a large and heavy dresser online. She was calling the store to evaluate the clear and present danger of claiming her purchase.

“Let us know when you’re coming and we’ll carry it out of the store and place it by the side door for you,” I offered, though I was a little anxious about the process. I didn’t want the hot sun beating on the dresser’s flawless finish for hours if she got delayed. What if there was a sudden downpour of rain? What about the pollen?

“No!” she snapped at my suggestion. “That doesn’t sound like contact-less service! I don’t want your fingerprints on my dresser!”

Service with a smile is a little more difficult these days. What makes it even harder are the extremes of public opinion. One customer is so germaphobic she doesn’t want to risk a stray fingerprint. Another thinks the pandemic is a hoax, believing with certainty that it is nothing but a minor flu season blown out of proportion by liberals who want to destroy the President.

Such was the case with an older gentleman who wanted to consign a houseful of furniture, circa 1970. (To be blunt, that’s the last stuff we want in our stores.) He charged, mask-less, into the store and shoved his phone at me, ordering me to scroll through his photos. “Sir,” I said, rearing back. “That would put my health at risk.”

Meanwhile, we’ve seen an influx of social-distance cops. You’ve probably run into them. They are the shoppers who seem to think they’ve been deputized by the CDC. They’ll loudly bark at other shoppers for stepping one inch closer than the suggested six-foot rule.


Folks, let’s remember to be kind and forgiving as all of us navigate the new rules of Covid World. At FCG, we’re doing the best we can to customize the shopping experience to all customers’ satisfaction. We care about all of you – even the zealots out there.

Boston’s Boom in Mansion Renovations Means More Great Bargains for You

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, June 19, 2020 @ 07: 29 PM

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Boston’s rich are on the move.

Trapped in their mansions since March, they are now moving en masse to their summer homes. Under Covid confinement, though, they chafed at the deprivations they had to endure. No SoulCycle? We must have a new workout room! No restaurant meals? Renovate the kitchen! No sports for the kids? Add a basketball court and a putting green!

On their way to the ocean or the mountains, Boston’s wealthy homeowners are leaving behind a lengthy list of home improvement projects. That means the area’s plumbers, electricians, landscapers and interior designers are going to be working overtime on tight deadlines this summer. Renovations must be completed before the boughie folks return in September.

Your new word of the day: boughie. Pronounced bou-zhee. Millennial slang for someone or something that is almost offensively wealthy. Comes from the French bourgeoisie.

Anyway, all this renovation is great news for us here at FCG.

Last week, we got a call from an interior designer. “The McMansion family of Brookline wants to consign a truckload of furniture to make way for all new stuff,” she said. “Can you be there at 8 a.m Wednesday?” She gave us the address, and we put it on the schedule.

FCG’s furniture movers showed up precisely on time to extract the furniture. But the family’s kids were still asleep. We waited in the driveway – along with the painters, the cleaners, the carpenters and the decorator – as the family slouched, yawning, out of the house. One by one, they trickled out the front door, wearily dragging their suitcases. They piled into shiny black Range Rovers and off they roared to the Cape.

As soon as they pulled out of the driveway, we all darted into the house and got to work. Painters began taping and draping. The design team whipped out their measuring tapes and made notes on a clipboard. The cleaners darted here and there, wearing vacuums on their backs and probing every corner with their wands. It was barely organized chaos.

A sense of urgency was in the air. Everyone on the property knew they had two months to complete what should have been a five-month project. The large home offered plenty of space for social distancing. Without any ado, everyone got to work. The starting gun had just gone off.

FCG showed up to pick up some fun items that wouldn’t fit the new design. Among other things, we carried out a couple of extravagant rattan canopy sleigh beds and a chests of drawers from Williams Sonoma.

Boston’s wealthy families are enjoying a home-reno spending spree. Furniture Consignment Gallery is at their service. We’re racing from one to posh estate to another these days, bringing loads of top-quality furniture into our three showrooms. We’re back in business. You won’t believe the bargains we’ve got for you.

New Rules and New Hours But FCG Still Offers Lots of Fabulous Furniture

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, June 12, 2020 @ 05: 16 PM

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Finally, the doors are open once again at FCG!

Last Monday, Massachusetts’ governor gave the order allowing retailers to open their doors to the public. For weeks, I’d been hoping for – and fretting about – that moment. I knew it wouldn’t be business as usual, post-lockdown, but I wasn’t quite sure what the new normal would be like for you, our customers, or us at FCG.

So we’re taking it one day at a time, working diligently to protect the health of our employees and our customers. And, after five days back in business, we’ve learned a few things.

First, let’s just acknowledge that everyone hates the face masks, which are mandatory in Massachusetts. We hate them. You hate them. Everyone wears one walking into our stores, but yanks it down to talk to staff at the service counter. Please, for your safety and ours, keep your mask on while in any of our three stores. This is the key to preventing more cases of Covid-19.

FCG is strict about social distancing. Our customers are, too, until they want to show us photos of the furniture they want to sell. Please, don’t give us your cell phone and ask us to swipe through the photos. For now, that’s just too dangerous. Email the photos to FCG! (And a reminder: FCG won’t accept your Queen Anne dining set or your TV armoire. That’s dangerous, too: dangerously out-of-date.)

FCG prides itself on its customer service and, until recently, our staffers were quick to offer our customers help loading their newly-bought furniture into their cars. Sadly, we aren’t able to do that during this pandemic. We’re looking forward to the day when we can resume the kind of white-glove service we’re famous for.

We’ve also modified the hours our stores are open to the shopping public. FCG’s stores in Hanover and Natick will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Those stores will be closed on Sundays.

Mondays will be reserved for shopping by appointment only in Hanover and Natick. Any customers who are over 60 or at high risk of infection, please make an appointment to shop on Monday. We’re eager to protect your health and offer you the opportunity to shop with fewer folks in the store.

Our Plymouth store is operating on a slightly different schedule. It will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Plymouth will be closed Sunday and Monday. Appointment-only shopping will be on Tuesday.

Despite the new restrictions and hours, we’re proud we’ve been able to maintain one certainty. Our showrooms always have been and always will be stocked with beautiful furniture at great prices, and there’s always more on the way.

Stay Tuned! FCG Hopes to Open Its Doors to the Public Soon

Posted by Jay Frucci on Fri, June 05, 2020 @ 02: 47 PM

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Today will be a big day for FCG.

Like a lot of other folks, we’re waiting with bated breath to hear the governor detail his plans to continue re-opening the state of Massachusetts. That news will be vital to FCG. When will we get to open the doors of our three stores?

Full confession: I’ve got pretty low expectations here. In my view, the lockdown was bungled badly. Small business suffered mightily while big nation retail chains prospered. Will the re-opening be any different? But you’ve heard enough of my grumbling on this blog in recent weeks. Let’s be optimistic.

While we wait for the formal announcement, I want to reassure you. FCG will take all precautions to insure your safety while shopping in our stores. At the same time, we’re eager to keep providing the helpful, cheerful customer service you’ve told me you’ve enjoyed for years.

Our delivery service is ready and willing to serve you. Neither rain nor heat nor heavy traffic will keep our guys from their appointed rounds. On any given day, our trucks are continuing to deliver furniture to homes from Mattapan to Wellesley.

FCG’s clients are a rare breed. They’re incredibly smart shoppers and they’re loyal. They demand quality, value, and good service – and judging from the hundreds of comments on our website and by email – they appreciate our efforts to give them what they want and deserve.

At FCG, we care deeply about you. We care about your home, your current decorating project and your future ones. And, once we get the okay from our governor, we look forward to throwing open our doors and seeing you in our stores soon!

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.