As many astute shoppers know, there are many interesting little shops around the state that offer shoppers an opportunity to purchase quality hand-made crafts and furniture, many of which are made right here in New Hampshire. But recently, a craft and furniture shop opened in central New Hampshire with a uniquely twist–all items are handcrafted by inmates at the New Hampshire State prison in Concord.
The shop, NHDOC Creative Creations, is located in a section of Grevior Furniture on Central Street in downtown Franklin. The crafters are inmates who participate in a hobby crafts program at the prison, and they turn out quality handmade jewelry, furniture, home furnishings, artwork, wooden toys, basketry, leatherwork, and more, which are then sold on a consignment basis at Grevior Furniture.
According to John Limoge, who has been the prison shop manager for about 13 years, about 10% of the men incarcerated at the prison are enrolled in the program, and more have been put onto a waiting list. “Inmates who are interested in the program fill out an application, and after we check to make sure that there have been no discipline issues and that the inmate is satisfactorily holding another job at the prison, the inmate goes onto a waiting list. Once in the program, the inmate has to stay out of trouble and he has to remain employed at his other job as well. If there are any problems, the inmate will be removed from the program. We rarely have to do this.”
John notes that inmates get to choose what they want to create, whether it’s simple or more complex items, including furniture and other woodcrafts, baskets, artwork, ceramics, wood carvings, or other arts and crafts projects. Inmates in the woodworking part of the program are also able to benefit from expert guidance and instruction from visiting furniture masters
“The inmates have their own artistic abilities and interests,” John says. “They decide what they want to make, and then they price it before it is sent to Grevior Furniture.” The prison shop also accepts custom orders, which can be placed through Grevior. John notes that the inmates pay for their own craft materials, and any proceeds from sales are shared between the inmates, the prison, and Grevior.
John explains how this unique “Corrections Creations” shop came about. “This is our first venture like this,” he says. “We’ve had a state-of-the-art woodworking and craft shop at the state prison for over 25 years, but after the recent statewide budget cuts and staff reductions at the NHDOC, our store was reduced to the point that we weren’t able to open. So we came up with the idea to find a local business interested in providing space and selling our crafts on consignment.”
The NHDOC sent out a Request for Proposals to businesses throughout the state, with a positive response. “We had a lot of interest among smaller “Mom and Pop” stores and consignment stores,” John says. “The interested businesses had to fill out applications and submit their proposals to the State, and then a selection committee reviewed these. The committee selected Grevior Furniture.”
Grevior Furniture, located at 440-448 Central Street, has been a family-owned store in Franklin for 80 years. According to Jason Grevior, a member of the third generation of the business, when NHDOC posted the RFP online, the Grevior Furniture decided to submit an application.
“Basically, we had an empty retail space available and we had been considering something like this for years,” says Jason. “They were looking for a place to sell the crafts, and when we saw the RFP, we applied. It would give us a draw to Franklin, and it gave us a draw for “Made in New Hampshire” crafts.”
The shop is located in a relatively small space in a building adjacent to the main showroom, but Jason says that they plan to expand the showroom for Corrections Creations to an area comprising about 1500 feet of retail space, which will allow more items to be displayed, including more large furniture pieces.
Currently at Corrections Creations, you can find a wide range of small crafts and some handcrafted furniture. The furniture, made out of solid wood such as oak and cherry, includes such items as an Adirondack chair and footrest, a beautiful cherry chest of drawers, a coffee table with a wood-burned design engraved on the surface, an oak pie tin cupboard, a child’s rocking chair, small tables, a small table with a magazine rack, a bookcase, and a knick-knack shelf.
Other wooden items include wooden toys such as train sets, trucks, a tractor; wooden whistle flutes; pen cases; a lazy Susan in the shape of a ship’s wheel; Shaker baskets of all sizes; engraved signs; wooden wall carvings; bowls; an oak corner clock; birdhouses; key holders; wooden miniatures; vases; and game boards. You can also find an assortment of woven baskets of all sizes, jewelry, dream catchers, leather craft (belts, a saddle), miniature model boats, and paintings.
The NHDOC Corrections Collections gallery is open during Grevior Furniture’s normal business hours, which are Monday–Friday from 8:30am until 5:30pm, Saturday from 8:30am until 5pm, and Sunday from 11am until 4pm. For more information, call 934-4159 or log on to www.grevior.com.