East Greensboro furnishings store helping ex-offenders

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GREENSBORO, N.C -- Travis Burrell’s home furnishings store is offering more than furniture and appliances.

Imperial Home Furnishings is offering people who have been waiting for a break a fresh start.

“We wanted to bring some social entrepreneurship to this community. A lot of times folks talk about economic development/urban development, but I haven’t seen any,” Burrell said.

Burrell grew up in the east Greensboro community.

He wanted his business to help address local issues directly.

“We’re employing ex-felons, folks who may not get an opportunity to get a job,” he said.

Daron Huitt is one of 10 employees (men and women) at Imperial Home Furnishings.

“It was hard to find jobs because of my record and it’s been nine years since I’ve been in any trouble,” Huitt said.

Huitt has been employed with the company for a little more than two weeks.

He says he felt welcomed from the beginning.

“It made me feel loved, like somebody really cares about me. These guys [have] been the same way. They never changed,” he said.

Service Technician John Wheatley is another employee who is grateful for the opportunity.

“I’m getting the opportunity to start life over, have a good job and come to work every day not worrying about where you’re going to get your next meal, where you’re going to sleep,” Wheatley said.

Along with providing jobs, Imperial Home Furnishings houses employees who need shelter.

Both Huitt and Wheatley have received housing.

“We understand this thing full circle. Housing is essential, employment is essential, education is essential,” Burrell said.

Moving forward, Imperial Home Furnishings says it wants to develop relationships with community agencies to enhance services helping people with criminal backgrounds.