Maine prison furniture store holds annual sale

Let’s see now, what have we learned from Bob Sloan’s experiences and articles about prison industries in Nevada?  Among other things, they are not supposed to be competing with free market businesses, as well as paying the going wages.

Well, there are furniture factories in Maine.  Do you think that they were consulted about a prison furniture factory?

Do you think that all of the unemployed furniture workers in Maine were consulted about a prison furniture factory.

There are numerous furniture retail stores in Maine.  How do you think they like competing with prison-made furniture at prison labor wages?

Like many people in North Carolina, I used to be in the furniture industry.  I was a retail buyer, a product manager, a sales manager, and a furniture importer.  When I first started learning about prison industries from Bob Sloan, I thought “here is an opportunity to make a lot of money.  With all of the wood casual dining factories gone from the U.S. for the inability to compete with S.E. Asian labor rates, could this be the way to compete with the Asian factories on price?  If so, I could get rich selling furniture made over here that would not require the letters of credit, the long lead times, long production runs in one color finish…”

But then, re-calculating what would be required by law to pay to the inmate workers. all of a sudden the numbers did not work and such a venture would not be competitively viable in a commodity business like the retail furniture business.  (Trust me, you only think its a fashion business.)

That being the case, I don’t know if you realize the furniture industry is hurting.  Almost all wood production (especially promotionally priced wood dining furniture) is long gone from American factories which had never re-invested in plant and equipment and were not able to compete with low labor cost factories using the newest technologies available.  Entire towns were factory towns for domestic furniture manufacturers–now they house warehouses for good imported from Asia.

Getting back to this newspaper clipping from Boston.com, how do you think this prison factory and prison store are competing in the Maine market if they were playing by the rules?

THOMASTON, Maine (AP) — A well-known retail store that sells wooden furniture and knickknacks made by Maine State Prison inmates is holding its annual spring sale.

The Maine State Showroom’s ‘‘spring spectacular’’ sale begins Sunday and runs through April 21. During the sale, all in-stock products are marked down 25 percent.

The store sells a wide range of wood products ranging from bureaus and bookcases to ship models and cutting boards made in the wood shop at the Maine State Prison in Warren. The store’s located on Route 1 in Thomaston, near the site of the old state prison before it was demolished a decade ago.

The Department of Corrections says the store has annual sales of about $1.5 million.
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This article is published at http://www.boston.com/news/local/maine/2013/03/31/maine-prison-furniture-store-holds-annual-sale/goOEB1Kfl9YjkZa9VFYR6O/story.html

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