The General Electric logo rests in the middle of a white painted wooden pallet designed like a Monopoly board. At the bottom of the pallet in white letters, with a red background, Schenectady is clearly printed.
The Schenectady-themed Monopoly board table is the most recent creation of Schenectady resident John Richmond, 36, a local handyman.
“It has been kind of an escape for me,” he said about his new hobby. “I never painted before and I just started painting this.”
Richmond’s mother died in November after a two and a half year battle with cancer. He is a single dad raising an 8-year-old boy. Richmond and his son had a very close relationship with his mother, he said. After her death he would work on pallets at night after he put his son to bed to try to cope.
“I started painting just trying to forget about what was going on,” he said.
The hobby took off. Richmond now has a Facebook page, “Reincarnated Pallets,” where he encourages people to share their pallet creations and he showcases his own. The page has garnered nearly 60 likes and Richmond hopes more people will get involved. He said he is always looking for ideas and new creations to make out of pallets.
Richmond explained that pallets are leftover wood that grocery stores and businesses usually use to ship goods. Landfills and garbage dumps will often charge businesses to take the pallets from them. So grocery stores, especially, will give them away for free.
“Anywhere I see pallets I stop and ask, especially after Christmastime,” Richmond said.
He said he will also get pallets on Craigslist in the free section. He said the pallets are made with either heat-treated or chemically treated wood, but for reuse and crafts, heat-treated pallets are best.
The Schenectady Monopoly pallet took him only a few hours, he said. The hardest part was waiting for the paint to dry. He would work on the pallet for 20 minutes at a time over the course of a week. By the end of the week, the pallet was done.
The Schenectady-themed board was made to pay tribute to his town and to pay tribute to his mother he said.
“She was really big on family time together and loved playing games together,” he said. “I started out with a regular Monopoly table then a couple of friends suggested I customize it to Schenectady.”
The board includes names of streets in Schenectady, such as Jay Street, Broadway and Liberty Street. He said a lot of the streets are where his friends live.
The Schenectady Monopoly board is not Richmond’s first pallet reincarnation. He has also used pallets to make a porch swing, other board game tables, key holders and even a wine rack. He is planning on making a patio set in the near future and many of his friends have put in requests for things they want made as well.
Richmond said his son thinks the new hobby is awesome, and is making plans for dad to make a roller coaster out of pallets in their backyard.
“He loves them,” Richmond said. “He has his plans set for the summertime already.”
For Christmas, Richmond made his sister and brother-in-law, who lived in England for sometime, a pallet table that looks like the British flag. They loved it.
And although his mother is no longer here, he thinks she would love his pallet creations too.
“She is smiling down from heaven now,” he said. “Playing games with us, she is right there.”