Topics: sale, consigment, grandmother, neighbors, consignment, MA, chestnut hill, Furniture Consignment, Furniture, Hanover, plymouth, gallery, moving, neighborhood, salesman, brand names, italian, neighbor, busy, desirable, canoli
"Are you guys busy?"
I heard that same question at least three times an hour this week. Our phone is ringing off the hook. What consignors really want to know is whether we can sell their furniture. Are there customers in our showrooms? Do people still want this stuff?
We all know that every real estate agent and used car salesman will tell you they are flooded with buyers when the truth is entirely the opposite. Who can you believe?
Here's the hard evidence: our movers are panting not only from the heat but from the workload. Rob, foreman of the delivery team, has logged more overtime in July than any month this year. This summer, we've sold more furniture - of every make and style - than any other summer in memory.
Hell, yeah. We are busy.
Now, for the second question: Do people still want this stuff? We accept the most desirable styles of furniture in good or excellent condition. New, some of the pieces in our showroom would be prohibitively expensive. Say, for example, you covet a set of six armchairs by Thomas Moser. The price new would be around $8,000. At Furniture Consignment Gallery, we have a set in perfect condition. Price: $3,500.
Our three showrooms offer amazing deals like that on extraordinary - but affordable - furniture. So, go ahead, ask the question: do people want this stuff? My answer: hell, yeah.
This week, Furniture Consignment Gallery is going to get busier. Starting today, we're cutting prices on everything by 10%. This means new mattresses, accessories and the thousands of high-end pre-owned pieces in our three showrooms. The sale starts today, Saturday, August 8th and lasts through the tax-free weekend, Sunday August 16th.
You could wait for the tax-free weekend, but be aware that the item you covet might be gone by then. Quality furniture, priced to sell, is hard to resist. Are we going to be busy this week? You betcha.
On a recent road trip, Diana and I found ourselves trailing a moving van. Twenty years ago, that same company moved us from Kentucky to Boston. Looking back, we had a good laugh thinking about the move.
The nicest piece on the truck was a beautiful custom sofa we got by default. Diana, an interior designer, had been working with a difficult client who'd rejected the sofa. So we inherited it. Also on the truck was a family heirloom: a rock-maple bedroom set that had been her father's. After our first son was born, we had it refinished and it's still in his bedroom today.
Like many cash-strapped newlyweds, we'd accumulated a lot of household flotsam and jetsam and we gamely dragged all of it with us to Boston. We had a mattress that had been squeezed in and out of many small apartments. I'd hacked the box spring in half with a Sawzall so that we could get it up the stairs to a third-floor walk-up then bolted it back together in the apartment. Ingenious, right?
Packed tenderly in bubble wrap was a rickety old brass-and-glass dining set. Diana's family had donated it to us, probably to save themselves a trip to the dump. We didn't leave anything behind: plastic lawn chairs, trashcans, a rusty lawn mower, a dog crate, sans dog. He rode with us in the car like a pampered potentate.
We were young. What did we know? We paid by the pound to move our meager possessions, most of which weren't worth hauling past the city limits. That's a lesson worth considering if you are moving.
How much will it cost to move your stuff? A lot. My suggestion is to have a yard sale. Sell the old mower and the china cabinet. Get rid of the old mattress. You probably need a new one anyway. Then, stop by Furniture Consignment Gallery. We've got three showrooms full of quality furniture and new mattresses at prices you'll love. Now, that's how you make a fresh start.
"Wow!" my sister-in-law said breathlessly. "Amazing!" Her husband was just as awestruck. "Unbelievable," he kept muttering to himself, shaking his head. "Just unbelievable."
They were visiting from Cincinnati, and we'd put together an action-packed schedule of the best of summertime Boston, including the beach, some golf, the Duckboats, a tour of Fenway Park, pizza and pastry in the North End and a visit to Harvard Yard.
What really sparked their excitement, though, was the sight of our showroom in Hanover, chock full of extraordinary furniture at bargain prices. The two had just moved into a new home in Cincinnati. They needed furniture. So seeing the sights of Boston was actually secondary to the real mission: shopping at Furniture Consignment Gallery.
Over the course of the week, my sister-in-law and her husband found the furniture of their dreams in our showrooms. A gleaming mahogany china cabinet by Baker. A Hickory White inlaid sideboard. An entire living room set by Mitchell Gold. In all, the two got about $50,000 worth of nearly new furniture for less than $15,000.
Mission accomplished! While enjoying a week in one of the nation's most beautiful cities, my in-laws furnished their house for a fraction of what they would have paid at a new furniture showroom in Cincinnati.
Tomorrow, we'll load their furniture onto a rental truck. My father-in-law and my oldest son will drive it back to Cincinnati. And that's probably the best part of this whole adventure. A grandfather-grandson road trip. 900 miles. Four states. A cooler full of snacks. Music on the radio. Time to talk. Priceless.
When I was 16, I started driver's ed with a bang. I brought a cocky confidence to my first lesson. "Back out of the parking spot slowly and carefully," the instructor said after I slid behind the wheel and buckled up. I jammed the car in gear, turned around to make sure I wasn't going to run over anyone, and then I hit the gas.
The car leaped forward before screeching to a halt. My neck snapped and my heart skipped a beat. "Good thing I have a brake on my side," the instructor said drily. "Next time, Jay, put the car in reverse if you want to back up."
Screeching brakes have been on my mind this week. Cade, my oldest son, is about to get his driver's permit. I intend to give him a few lessons myself before we sign him up for driver's ed. After all, it's a rite of passage, a kind of parental EKG, to see if your heart is strong enough to handle the trials of your offspring's adolescence.
Fortunately, we have a couple of good places to practice: our stores' parking lots. In a couple of weeks, I'm planning on taking him down to Plymouth - after hours, of course, when the place has cleared out and there's nothing much to damage but my nerves.
I hope he doesn't burn too much rubber when he makes those skid marks. In any case, the evidence won't be there long. We're planning on sealcoating and painting new stripes on that parking lot in the next week or two. That means we'll have to close the store for a day. We'll post a notice in the store and on the website so you'll know when that'll happen.
We'll steer clear of the store as we're making our slow and careful circles. We've got plenty of inventory inside and I'd rather not have skidmarks in the showroom.
"Oh, no!" One of our best customers, an interior designer, was in mid-conversation with a staffer when she caught sight of a new sectional across the showroom. "Impossible!" she exclaimed, striding over to examine the piece. "I simply don't believe it."
Turns out, she had a history with this particular piece of furniture. Six months ago, she had been working for a couple that had been - hmmm, how to put this nicely? - very challenging clients. They bickered so much during the design process that she felt like more of a referee than a designer.
What really broke her spirit, she confessed, was selecting their sectional. Last winter, the trio trekked through the snow to all the furniture showrooms in and around Boston. Every couch she suggested they dismissed as too soft, too firm, too stiff, or too sloppy.
Eventually, they agreed on a style. That's when picking the fabric became the new nightmare. They spent endless hours poring over swatches. Finally, the couple settled on a custom tight-back sectional with a chaise and the designer placed the order.
Sixteen weeks later, and a dozen or more anxious client phone calls to the designer, the sectional was delivered. The couple had a rare moment of miserable agreement - they just didn't like it. Without telling their designer, they shipped it off quietly to FCG.
So here it was sitting in our showroom. The sectional was spotless, stylish, and well crafted with vivid colors. Its price tag was a fraction of what the couple had paid only a few weeks earlier. The designer ran her hand over the fabric. "What a waste," she said sadly.
Shortly after she left, a family of six wandered in. Catching sight of the sectional, the teens raced across the showroom and leaped on it joyfully. "Can we get it?" they begged their parents. "It's awesome!"
I wish the dejected designer had stayed long enough to see how much this family loved the sectional. All her work and talent were finally being appreciated. I thought it was proof of the old adage: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Happy people can find it pretty much anywhere.
Topics: consignors, designer, clients, consignment, boston, Sofa, MA, chestnut hill, massachusetts, newton, Furniture Consignment, Furniture, Hanover, plymouth, gallery, kids, interior designer, sectional, couch, chaise
Eleanor Roosevelt once declared Main Street in Hingham to be the loveliest street in America. Now, I don't want to detonate a firestorm of civic pride here. Wellesley, Weston, Salem and Gloucester, I'll concede you've got your charms. But I beg to disagree with the First Lady. My vote goes to Concord.
Rich in political and literary history, Concord is a quintessential New England village, serene and timeless. Louisa May Alcott wrote "Little Women" here. Thoreau fled to its woods to chop wood and pen his famous epistle, "Walden." The town is graced with proud homes, elegant gardens, lush lawns, simple churches, cozy taverns and dark ponds.
That is why I was so excited last week visiting a beautiful historic home in the center of town. Built in1884, this three-story 7,000-square-foot brick home has four chimneys and a barn out back. Originally built as a summer home for his family by a wealthy merchant in Boston, the house has been lovingly preserved and renovated many times in the last century. Its current owner is selling the house - and has offered its furniture to FCG.
Our moving crew worked tirelessly, filling our truck with custom furniture designed just for this extraordinary home. The list of items is long: gold damask sofas by Baker, occasional chairs by Lillian August, a pristine mahogany dining set by Kindle, a drop-leaf table in gleaming bird's eye maple, leather chairs and sofas.
Concord's favorite son Thoreau urged us to seize the day, breathe the spring air, taste the new fruit - and, he would have added, appreciate the workmanship of our nation's top craftsmen. Our Hanover store is chockfull of amazing furniture pieces from this grand home. Come in and take a look. I promise you'll be as thrilled as I am.
"Hey, Jay!" one of the other dads hollered at me from the other side of the ballpark as our sons were finishing up soccer practice. "Looking forward to the party!" I nodded, grinned and waved back at the guy trying not to look totally confused. "Party?" I thought. "What party?"
Ten minutes later, I found out. Parked in my driveway was a truck. Two men were hauling a massive inflatable bouncing house into my backyard. Yes, we apparently were having a party. Robbie, our youngest, was turning seven. His buddies were coming to our house to celebrate. All of them.
Inviting 20 seven-year-old boys to a backyard birthday party is sheer lunacy. There are no carrot sticks on the menu, just pure sugar bombs. Add an arsenal of plastic weaponry and you've got an incendiary mix. You'd have less damage from a horde of Mongols.
Other parents - that is, the ones who value their homes - outsource these kinds of events. They rent an indestructible party palace for the afternoon. That's so the joint can be hosed down and, if necessary, rebuilt after the party.
Whose idea was this wingding anyway? Diana, my wife, looked remarkably cheerful for someone about to be overrun by munchkins with inflatable pickaxes. "Jay," she insisted. "It'll be fun!"
What actually happened was two hours of utter mayhem. Like an invading force of troop carriers, SUVs pulled up in front of our house at precisely 4 p.m. Out spilled an army of howling kids. The party instantly devolved into a battle scene. Their parents stood at the perimeter - wine and beer in hand - watching in shock.
Robbie's older brother, Cade, had been enlisted as a kind of bouncer to keep the peace. At 15, he is six feet tall and 190 pounds, but he was no match for a swarm of seven-year-olds. They attacked and beat him into submission with their axes. I could hear muffled cries for help, but I wasn't about to risk the fury of the mob.
Considering the battlefield wounds, we probably should have had a MASH Unit. One boy ran up to his mom with blood running down his lip. "Mom," he said breathlessly. "Can you hold my tooth?" He dropped the tiny pearl into her hand and raced back into action.
When the party was over, I surveyed the yard and tallied the damage. They came, they ate, they conquered. One tooth was extracted. A lawn chair had been twisted into a pretzel. The flowerbeds were shredded. No casualties. All in all, according to Robbie, it was a pretty good party. Would have been better if Cade had suffered a little more, but overall -- pretty good.
Topics: consignors, hoard, axes, consignment, boston, child, MA, chestnut hill, massachusetts, newton, Furniture Consignment, Furniture, Hanover, plymouth, children, gallery, kids, bounce house, attack, party
Harrodsburg, Kentucky is a sleepy town of about 9,000, except for certain times of year when the place is seized with a peculiar sports mania. That would be the winter college basketball season and the eve of the Kentucky Derby.
Some of the best gossip in town could be gotten at the Davis Beauty Shop. Martha Davis, the owner, was married to the basketball coach of Harrodsburg High School in Mercer County. He had a hotline to Coach Adolf Rupp of the University of Kentucky, one of the most successful coaches in the history of American college basketball.
So the women of the bluegrass would make their weekly pilgrimages to see Martha - with the full encouragement of their husbands. That's because the women would come home not only freshly coiffed but also fully stocked with hot tips for their husbands on horses and basketball.
Now 95, Martha hasn't wielded a curling iron for a while now but she's still as elegant and indomitable as she was in her prime. Last year, she downsized and sold the classic belle of a mansion she and her husband, Coach Davis, had owned on Harrodsburg's Main Street.
Diana, my wife, was fortunate to get some of the beautiful furniture that graced her grandmother's home. So was Furniture Consignment Gallery. Martha entrusted us to sell some of her favorite pieces, among them an Empire chest and an antique pine rope bed.
Selling furniture with a story - that's what makes the consignment business so much fun. Stop by one of our showrooms today. It's Derby Day. Martha, or as we know her, Nana sends her regards.
Topics: dog treats, kentucky derby, derby, kentucky basketball, consignment, boston, MA, chestnut hill, massachusetts, newton, Furniture Consignment, Furniture, Hanover, plymouth, gallery, dog, kentucky, basketball
Even on a big boat, space is tight. That makes furnishing the place a challenge, especially when you make the boat your full-time home. In fact, it is probably every bit as frustrating a puzzle as a Rubik's Cube.
Which explains the email I got earlier this week from a customer, whom I'll call the Captain. "Greetings, Jay," he wrote. "Get out your tape measure. Prepare to be ACCURATE - to the eighth of an inch or better. These measurements are crucial and will require eyeballs at floor level."
Apparently, the Captain had fallen in love with a beautiful walnut chest of drawers he'd found on our website He wanted to install it in his bedroom on the boat. The problem? The dresser was 25 inches wide - two inches wider than the aft door.
Living at sea, the Captain apparently has acquired a necessary ingenuity. "What is the height of the legs under the chest?" the Captain asked in his email. Perhaps, he mused, he could turn the dresser on its side and spiral it around the door frame. The legs, he warned, would have to be at least 2¼ inches high to accomplish this feat.
Even by email, the Captain was a commanding presence. "Jay," he wrote, "remove the upper-most drawers from the dresser. Look inside and determine how the top of the dresser is attached. Is it by glue or by screw? I may be able to remove the top. Hence, it will easily clear the narrow door frame."
The Captain is one of my favorite customers even if he does make me feel like a bit of a swabbie. He loves fine furniture - and he really likes the bargains he finds at Furniture Consignment Gallery. He also knows he can rely on our associates to get down on the floor and get those measurements quickly and accurately - down to the sixteenth of an inch.
He's been shopping our website for years and we've had the honor of furnishing his sixty-foot, thirty-ton boat, which is moored in a slip in Los Angeles. Every couple of months, he finds a piece he loves and after has it shipped three thousand miles to the marina he calls home.
I'd like to meet the guy one of these days. I'd like a tour of his boat. Most of all, I'd like to find out how he managed to get a 25-inch wide dresser through a 23-inch wide door.