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.
She was stunned. She was just putting the finishing touches on a redecorating project. Window sheers had been ordered but hadn't been installed. And now she was packing up and moving.
Only a few weeks ago, someone had lobbed an unsolicited offer to buy her home for a price she couldn't resist. The house had been a sanctuary after a hard divorce. She loved the long gated driveway and the peaceful gardens. Her three girls had lived like princesses there, riding a social merry-go-round through childhood and adolescence.
The girls left for college. Now, the brick mansion seemed to echo with loneliness. Selling hadn't been on her to-do list this spring, but the unexpected offer held out the happy promise of a new adventure.
So she called Furniture Consignment Gallery.
Mitchell Gold had just delivered a living room set. She admitted I was the first to ever sit on the sofa. That, too, went into our truck.Within days, we were at the house filling our truck with treasures including an EJ Victor china cabinet and an extraordinary console table by Dessin Fournir.
I asked where was she going. She said she had a temporary apartment, but no firm plans. "Where do you think I would like to live?" she asked. Our moving guys started tossing out ideas: Hingham, Duxbury, Marblehead, Manchester-by-the-Sea.
"When you guys are finished," she mused, "I think I'll go for a drive." She's traveling light. No baggage. That's the best way to start an adventure.
Topics: divorce, redecorating, packing light, mitchell gold, consignment, boston, MA, chestnut hill, Furniture Consignment, Furniture, Hanover, plymouth, children, moving, mansion, massachusetts. mass, dessin fourir, ej victor
He shot into the showroom like he'd been launched straight from the corner office by a cannon. His white shirt was crisply starched, his shoes were shined and he reeked of expensive cologne. "I need a table," he said abruptly and somewhat angrily. Nothing fancy. Four legs and a flat surface. Where he could drink his coffee and read the paper. Alone.
Two days later, a black Escalade ripped into our parking lot. Out jumped a guy in surgical scrubs, a surgeon, sweaty after hours in the operating room. "I need a chair," he snapped. Something comfortable, he said, but he had to be able to fit it in his car and carry it up three flights of stairs, by himself, to his new and empty apartment. We found him a nice barrel chair at a reasonable price. Now at least he has a spot in which to sip a stiff drink after work.
What's going on? Two different guys, same week, same story. They came home from work to find the locks changed and the golf clubs scattered all over the lawn. I guess May must be the month for disgruntled wives to really clean house.
At least Wife #1 was able to offer one small act of mercy to the schmuck in the driveway. "Where do I go?" he asked his wife as he stuffed his belongings into the trunk of the car. "I don't care," she yelled out the window. "Get an apartment." Shocked, he stammered, "But I don't even have a bed - or a table."
There was a moment of silence then she apparently took pity on him, he told us. "Go to Furniture Consignment Gallery," she shouted then she slammed the window shut.
Topics: manomet, family, divorce, staging, consignment, boston, MA, chestnut hill, massachusetts, newton, Furniture, Hanover, plymouth, chairs, quality, chair, dining, dining room, travel, moving, home staging, relationships
"Look at the detail!" one of our regular customers exclaimed stopping short right in front of a newly arrived item, an Eldred Wheeler Collector's Edition Bonnet Top Secretary.
No wonder. With 12 small drawers, 14 secret drawers, and exquisite fan carvings, the secretary is an extraordinary example of the art of woodworking. What caught her eye, though, were the two small and delicate shelves of wood that slid smoothly out from beneath the cabinet doors. "What are these?"
"Those are the candle slides," Ron, our showroom manager and furniture expert, explained. "Before electricity, you would need a candle near to provide light for your work."
The Eldred Wheeler piece is a reproduction, but it tells a lot about the way of life in Massachusetts in the 1700s. Woodworkers spent days - even weeks - on the fan carvings and details. Hidden drawers and subtle pigeonholes were a secret delight for the owner.
Which got me thinking. In last week's blog, I killed off Queen Anne, declaring that once-popular furniture style now out-of-date. Pieces as exquisite as the Eldred Wheeler are rare - and so expensive that few but the most ardent collector can afford them. So what's next for the rest of us?
We are at a crossroads. We're taller and fatter. We aren't farmers and small-town laborers like they were in the 1700s. We roam the planet like hunter-gatherers now. We shed belongings - and buy more - with every move. We like quality but we won't pay for it.
What does that mean for furniture? Are we happy to live on chunks of foam wrapped in polyester? Has furniture become the new Dixie cup: disposable? Are we still willing to pay for quality, detail, character and art? What do you think?
Topics: secretary, manomet, family, consignment, boston, MA, chestnut hill, Eldred Wheeler, massachusetts, newton, Desk, Furniture, Hanover, plymouth, chairs, quality, chair, dining, dining room, travel, moving, home staging
Until her death in 1714, Queen Anne ruled Great Britain for a dozen years. Hers was a short but dismal reign. She suffered from gout, watery eyes, multiple miscarriages and morbid obesity. She was an unlovely woman - who nonetheless gave her name to a very lovely style of furniture.
Ironically, the Queen Anne style is all about sleek legs and delicate curves - quite unlike the corpulent monarch with the legendary appetite. For three centuries, her furniture enjoyed a modest and enduring popularity. Then for some reason, in the 1980s, Queen Anne furniture became the style statement of a generation of baby boomers.
Every leading American furniture-maker filled its showrooms with glossy tables made of cherry wood perched on shapely cabriolet legs. For a decade, Queen Anne ruled the roost. Walk into any four-bedroom colonial in an upscale community and you would find a predictable scene: Queen Anne tables, chairs, desks, lowboys, breakfronts and highboys, some decorated with shells and others with acanthus leaves.
Fast forward to 2014, and the furniture with the can-can legs has lost its appeal.
The Queen is dead - for at least the next century. That's what our customers are telling us. The few pieces we have taken on consignment in the last year typically spend a few lonely weeks, ignored, on the showroom floor before we return them to their owners.
Still, some people are loyal royalists. One woman called us last week asking if we would take fifty pieces of furniture she'd bought in 1986. The stuff was in pristine condition. Protected from the sun, the flame-stitched cushions hadn't faded a bit. No ding or dent married those cabriolet legs. But I had to tell her the Queen wouldn't be lying in state at FCG. She was crushed at the news.
Topics: manomet, family, death, staging, consignment, boston, MA, chestnut hill, massachusetts, newton, Furniture, Hanover, plymouth, Queen Anne, chairs, quality, chair, dining, dining room, travel, moving, home staging, reign
I have strong opinions – and so does my wife, Diana. When we disagree, the staff runs for cover. After nearly ten years of running a business together, we’re pretty good at verbal sparring. Our arguments can be intense, animated and loud. (Hey, I’m Italian!) At the end of the day, though, we always remember Rule #1: Don’t take the business home.
One topic is sparking debate – and we haven’t resolved it yet. Does staging help sell a home? Staging is the art of editing and arranging furniture and eliminating clutter to make a house more appealing to buyers. Professional stagers buy or rent furniture and accessories such as art to enhance a home. Many of Boston’s top stagers are customers of FCG.
Since we’re selling our own home – and we have three stores of furniture from which to borrow – this is just theoretical. I’m in favor of staging. Here’s why:
- I think reducing clutter allows buyers to visualize how they would live in your home. I think buyers find clutter distracting, cementing the idea that it’s your home – not theirs.
- I think that bright, neutral paint and lots of lighting make a house more appealing to potential buyers – even if they are privately planning to paint the dining room a deep shade of eggplant later.
- I think less is more. Scaling down the furniture makes a house look bigger, in my view, giving buyers the impression they are getting more house for their buck.
- I think it is important to put those antiques in storage and update the furniture because most buyers, especially younger ones buying a starter home, want a more modern look.
Diana disagrees. Here’s her view
- Clutter is irrelevant. She believes potential buyers are capable of seeing beyond the framed kids’ art and the hockey gear and imagining themselves in a home.
- She says buyers can imagine a room emptied of its weary-looking wing chairs and filled with their own chic furniture. In fact, she believes, pandering to some imagined buyer’s style preference is a waste of time, money and energy.
- Staging is fake – and hard on sellers. She insists that buyers’ decisions about which house to buy are based more on complex issues such as the size and layout of a house, the neighborhood, the yard, the town, and the school system. You can’t gussy those up with staging.
So what do you think of our great debate? You can flee – like our staffers – or you can jump in and let us know. Take our survey about staging and we’ll post the results for you in a couple of days.
Topics: manomet, family, staging, consignment, boston, MA, chestnut hill, massachusetts, newton, Furniture, Hanover, plymouth, chairs, quality, chair, dining, dining room, travel, moving, home staging
Despite the arctic cold, we're starting to see a predictable harbinger of spring. Realtors and home-staging professionals are flocking to our showrooms. They're hunting for furniture and accessories to update the homes they hope to sell in the next few months.
Some 40% of home sales occur between March and June. Homeowners are busy prepping for that brief window of opportunity. The smartest ones know that clever staging can boost the selling price significantly.
Staging is an art. And since we work with some of the best in Boston, I can offer some of their secrets:
First, update your lighting. Cheap fixtures and lamps from the 1970s are a big turn-off for buyers. So are cracked or stained lampshades. New lamps and shades bring immediate warmth and style into a home - and that's a purchase that won't put a big dent in your wallet. Our showrooms offer lots of choices from classic to trendy.
Put things in scale. Homeowners often roll out a rug that is too small for the room. Maybe it was a quality hand-me-down from a relative or they got a bargain at the rug store, and they figured that something on a bare floor was better than nothing. News flash: a small rug in a big room is like a postage stamp on a lawn. It shrinks the room visually. We have rugs in all sizes. If you don't find what you need in our stores, then softly gleaming hardwood floors are a better bet.
De-clutter. Pack up the dust-collecting tchotchkes. Nothing says Grandma like an army of Hummels. That could be a turn-off to the thirtysomethings looking for a chic nest in which to start their families. Also, take a hard look at your furniture. If potential buyers have to hold their breath to squeeze around a king-size mattress in the master bedroom, you've got a problem. Get rid of furniture that overpowers a room.
One last tip: beware the curse of IKEA. We've all committed a few sins in the name of frugality. Say you bought some particleboard furniture a few years ago. You hauled the box home and assembled it yourself. Now, you're selling your house. Keep in mind that nothing depreciates an upscale home faster than cheap furniture. Just a few quality pieces -- bought on consignment - would reinforce the concept of quality in your home.
Topics: real estate, home, delivery, change, life, staging, lamps, lamp, consignment, boston, Interior Design, Antique furniture, chestnut hill, pick up, Furniture, Hanover, customers, plymouth, children, audience, target, kids, moving, spring break, designers, rug