Would you buy a piece of American-made furniture... if it was made by inmates?
Well, one Concord, N.H. furniture shop is hoping you will. Lilise Designer Resale, a clothing store focused on consignment, will be expanding to include antiques and a furniture showroom. The most interesting part? The custom pieces will be made by prisoners in The Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin.
Greg Lessard, the store's owner, has partnered with GraniteCor Industries, a part of the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, which trains inmates for years in the skills they need to become craftsmen and also provides them with wages. When Lessard heard about the program, he thought it would be an excellent addition to his boutique. "I think that the antique furniture was in the back of my mind for some time, but I just wasn’t sure that that was unique enough,” Lessard told Concord Monitor. “And when we were able to partner with GraniteCor Industries, I said, ‘Now this is a viable business.’ ”
Lessard's shop will be the first in New Hampshire to sell this furniture, but states such as Ohio, Maryland and Wisconsin all have programs where inmates are producing furnishings. And while Correctional Industries in Washington creates simple designs for student housing, this is the first instance that we've come across where inmates are crafting fine pieces.
Although many people think this is generally a positive idea, some feel it's a cheap way for businesses to produce goods. What do you think?
Head over to the Concord Monitor for more information. And be sure to click through our slideshow of American-made furniture by Harden.