Topics: family, consignment, school, boston, MA, chestnut hill, newton, Furniture Consignment, Hanover, plymouth Furniture, plymouth, furnitureconsignment.com, children, kids, school bus, back to school, boston consignment
"Wrong bus." Collin, our ten-year-old, stood in the foyer. He'd ridden one block before the big kids informed him he'd gotten on the eighth-grade bus, not the fifth-grade bus. The driver ejected him promptly at the next corner. Humiliated, he'd run home. Already anxious about his first day of middle school, now he was a ball of nerves. "Thanks a lot!" he said, glaring at us.
Earlier, Cade, our thirteen-year-old, was fuming during the short ride to his bus stop. I got the silent treatment because I won't let him upgrade to a smartphone. He believes this tragedy will ruin his year. He'll survive. At least he got on the right bus.
The dog is sulking - and possibly sick. Even the family car is protesting the end of summer and the start of the car-pool season. Red warning lights are glowering irritably on the dashboard.
We had one happy camper: Robbie marched off to kindergarten with a big smile. It was orientation day: his first, our third. All the moms sending off their first-borns were beaming through tears and lingering for glimpses. Diana, a veteran, exited happily, kicking her heels.
Transitions are tough. It's a relief to pack the kids off to school, but I'm already dreading the projects. Build the Roman Coliseum out of Cheerios? Seriously!?! Someone in the family needs an engineering degree to get a kid through school these days.
We're all busy. That's probably why our three showrooms are quiet this week. But we are working hard to get ready for when you want to beautify your home for the holidays. Every store has exquisite pieces. There's a beautiful Baker dining table in Chestnut Hill, a Chippendale china cabinet in Hanover, and even a folding table with a butler tray in Plymouth. We're ready to help you create the best holiday ever.
Topics: pets, kindergarten, bus, transitions, Furniture Consignment Boston, Furniture Consignment Gallery, school, American Made, chestnut hill, Furniture Consignment, Hanover, plymouth Furniture, customers, kids, dog, school bus
a beauty, a palatial oriental woven in brilliant colors. So of course we put it out for display in our showroom as boldly as Cher once put it out in Vegas. We weren't hiding anything. That rug got a lot of attention from shoppers until one lucky buyer hauled it home.
Six days later, the phone rang irritably. Apparently, it had taken almost a week for the buyer to notice the flaw - and now she wasn't happy about it.
Shoppers, let's get real. Virtually every piece on our showroom floor has had some interaction with life. More precisely, that means the occasional ding, dent or scratch. A loyal customer recently told us that it was worth the long drive to our showroom because the not only is furniture a bargain - it is in "pristine condition."
But, the reality is, if you do some serious poking around you'll probably find some small issue with just about every item in our stores. Some shoppers are really fussy - and they're actually kind of fun to watch. They'll crawl around on the floor inspecting an item for dents you can barely see with the naked eye.
Others shrug off the small stuff. We sold a Hitchcock hutch this week with a small scratch on the maple top. Our buyer shrugged it off. She was a bit of a klutz herself, she said, and she'd learned to accept that foible. For her, the scratch on the hutch was nothing more than a reminder that bumps and bruises are part of life.
At Furniture Consignment Gallery, we carefully evaluate furniture when it is displayed under the bright lights of our showroom - and we take every one of those dings and dents into account when we price the item. So the question is, what's your angle?
Are you looking for flawless furniture? Or can you tolerate a minor scuff or snag to get top quality at a bargain price? If that's the case, we have got some great buys for you this week.
For those new to this blog, the twins refers to the two brothers - identical twins - who manage the Hanover and Plymouth stores for Furniture Consignment Gallery. Ron has overseen our largest showroom in Hanover since 2006. Brad was recently recruited from a Macy's in Florida to manage our newest store in Plymouth. Equally gifted in furniture merchandising, they are ferociously competitive about their stores.
Earlier this week, during our weekly conference call with the store managers, I witnessed what sounded suspiciously like a sibling smackdown. "How do you like the flowers?" Ron asked Brad casually. Turns out, Ron had planted masses of wildly colored flowers outside his brother's showroom last Monday - on his day off!
Well, apparently, no harm, no foul when the goal is beautifying our stores. Brad was grateful for the help. Later, I heard the two hatching a plot to do a landscape makeover of Hanover together this coming Monday.
As an employer, I couldn't be more appreciative of the effort, but I was getting a little worried about burn-out. Then, in a moment of furniture-arranging pique yesterday, Brad dropped a bombshell that explained everything. "Everything has to be perfect," he said. "Mother is coming."
So that explains it! Mother! On her way from her winter home in Florida to her summer home in Maine, the matriarch of the family is going to stop by to see her sons and look over their handiwork. I've never met her, but she lives in legend, at least at FCG.
Widowed when her twins were 10, she raised three boys along with their sister by herself, working in the family tire store where she excelled at the art of retail. At 78, she's a tiny, stylish dynamo, and her 51-year-old sons haven't yet outgrown the desire to impress her. She arrives in two weeks. I can't wait to meet her - if only to see an end to the frenzied primping.
So stop by our stores this weekend and enjoy the results of our sibling rivalry. I'll be there. I've been sentenced to hard labor - at least for the next two weeks. "The deck outside the store has to be stained," Brad told me sternly. "Mother is coming."
Topics: new york, Furniture Consignment Boston, Furniture Consignment Gallery, American Made, chestnut hill, pick up, Furniture Consignment, Hanover, plymouth Furniture, customers, delivery mother, twins
"The contractor is going to be here in an hour," she said casually. "He's ripping out the kitchen island."
I stopped dead in my tracks. "Why?" I blurted, without thinking. "It's beautiful." She had a kitchen that would be the envy of any serious cook. Hers was an island just made for kids' afternoon snacks and homework or wine-and-pizza with friends. Distressed black with red undertones, it had a rich cherry wood top.
"Don't worry," she assured me. "We're going green. We're going to re-purpose the island as a work bench in the barn." She started detailing the master plan for the new kitchen to me, excited about the cabinetry and the new stainless-steel appliances that were on order. All I could think about were the paint brushes, wrenches and nails that would be strewn across that polished island top once it was dispatched to the barn.
Renovations are good for the economy, and hers was one of many signs that things are picking up after a four-year housing slump. In another home we visited this week, an expanded master suite had hardwood floors so vast and gleaming they would have made a great bowling alley for my three boys. This home owner realized they made the room too big and was ready to begin additional alterations to further complicate or correct the problem.
As a furniture consignment guy, I get to see a lot of homes here in Boston and its suburbs. Rarely do the new - or newly done - mansions command my attention. In a way, some of them seem as cold and lifeless as mausoleums. What gets me is something that no contractor or architect in the world can give a home: warmth.
You can't draw warmth on a blueprint. Warmth comes from a home that tells the story of the lives lived within: the kids' art framed and hung in the family room like an Old Master, the embroidered pillow you made the winter of the big snowstorm, the tiny nicks on the legs of the breakfront, a reminder of the toy trucks that got rammed into them when your son was three. You can't buy warmth, but you can achieve it.
Visit one of our three showrooms this weekend. We have a lot of beautiful furniture, once loved, that came from my kind of homes. Let us help you build some warmth in your home so that you can live a good life in it.
Topics: home, delivery, family, warmth, reconstruction, Furniture Consignment Boston, Furniture Consignment Gallery, American Made, chestnut hill, pick up, Furniture Consignment, Hanover, plymouth Furniture, customers, renovation
Sometimes, I gotta confess, you see the damndest things when you're picking up furniture in people's homes.
"Oh, that," said the lady of the house, waving airily at a small baggie stuffed with crisp brown leaves sitting on her coffee table. "Just ignore it," she added. "My stepson should know better than to leave his weed out where anyone can find it."
I had no interest in the baggie, but the furniture looked good, so we took it. Carrying a desk down the stairs and out the door, Matt and I almost stepping on a different plastic bag, neatly bundled, that she'd left sitting on the front stoop. "Watch out," she barked. "Dog shit!"
Oh, the perils of furniture pick-up. Don't get me wrong, though. I'm happy to be back in the truck. For the last few months, I've been tied to my desk working out the details of staffing and filling our new store in Plymouth, which, happily, opened to great reviews on March 1.
Finally, now, I can get back to hunting through rough waters and green pastures for great furniture.
What was that quote by Jack Kerouac? "Nothing behind me and everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road." We former English majors think like this when we get a few miles from home and office.
Our next stop was to see a retired firefighter. Her name was "Murf." If your home was ablaze, you would want her manning the hose. Built like a fireplug, she was competent and compassionate - and she knew more about furniture than me. Her father, it turns out, was a salesman for woodworking equipment. She'd spent part of her childhood visiting the big furniture factories that once dotted the landscape. Murf was witness to a great era of American furnituremaking and she didn't even know it.
After Murf, we visited a couple of storage units, an upscale house in a country-club development, and a couple of homes in the ragged stage of renovation. The result: an action-packed day for me and my trusty travel companion Matt who was subbing in for Nick who was home with his new baby boy. Coming home, the truck was stuffed with furniture and we were stuffed with tales of the riot of humanity out there.
He'd gotten it right, Kerouac. Keep on rolling, he said, and "lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies."
As I trundled into the gym last Monday, I heard a familiar voice call out, "You're welcome, Jay!" The place is always mobbed in January and February, as everyone does penance for the holidays. So I couldn't actually see who was hollering at me, but I knew the voice. "Thanks, Jim!" I hollered back. That's been our weekly ritual for years.
Every Monday, I go to the gym. That's largely because of some wise advice from Jim, a retired retail executive who has been a kindly counselor to me for years. Jim knows well the demands of managing a fast-growing business. He insisted from the start that I take a day off every week. So our stores have always been closed on Mondays.
Jim was right. I needed a day off. For the last seven years, I've been a jack-of-all-trades. I answered the phone and drove the truck. I picked up furniture. Back at the store, I sold furniture - then jumped in the truck and delivered it. When things were quiet in the showroom, I paid the bills, managed the books and swept the snow off the front steps.
But things change. Furniture Consignment Gallery has grown. Soon, we'll have three stores with many more customers and big challenges. But we also have a strong infrastructure now. We've developed dedicated and experienced staffers like Ron, Jeff, Sam, Christa, Matt, Nick, Judy, Theresa, Denise and Brad who share our vision. They do their jobs well and I trust them to take care of our customers.
So starting this Monday, Presidents' Day, February 18th, Furniture Consignment Gallery will be open seven days a week. That means we won't see any more disappointed shoppers circling the empty parking lot in Hanover after tugging on our locked doors on Mondays. They'll find our doors open and our showroom filled with quality furniture, art and accessories. So will the folks in Chestnut Hill. And our newest store in Plymouth also will be open seven days a week starting March 1.
As for me, I'm still planning on going to the gym on Mondays. I'm working off the holiday pounds one bench press at a time. And I know Jim will approve.