In a month, the historic Thane Central prison will open its gates to shoppers, offering merchandise including cookies and muffins, furniture, leather products, handloom fabrics and toys.
It will only stock perishable goods such as bakery products — other merchandise can be made-to-order. “The saleroom, with four staff members, will have toiletries and bakery products available off-the-shelf,” Prison Superintendent Yogesh Desai told Hindustan Times.
Most of these non-stock goods will be sourced from outstation jails where they are made. Furniture, clothes, powerloom and bakery products are now made at the Thane prison. The state’s five other salerooms are at prisons in Nashik, Yerawada, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Kolhapur.
The Thane prison showroom, around 20 ft x 20 ft, will sit outside the prison’s main gate. Desai said: “The objective is to offer high-quality products made by the inmates. So far, jail-produced goods were supplied to government institutions, municipal hospitals, mental hospitals and prison staff across the state.” Non-governmental organisations are to be roped in to assist with marketing.
And the officials believe the merchandise is good enough to be priced at a small premium over market rates. “Our carpets are so durable they last for generations. Our furniture is made using teak, compared to low-quality wood that is normally used,” said a prison officer.
“Monthly revenue from bakery products is around Rs 3 lakh. Last December, we sold around 850 kg of cakes,” the officer added. Revenues from these prison showrooms go to the government treasury. Work on branding this line of merchandise is underway.