The Director's Blog

February 21, 2009 Return to blog topic listing
There has been a spike recently in the sale of caskets by "third-party sellers", generally cemeteries, and most recently, a stand alone casket store in downtown Cincinnati. The Cincinnati casket store is offering Chinese made caskets that are actually eye appealing and "knock-offs" of the very popular models that the major American casket manufacturers produce. I have not seen one in person so I cannot make a judgement call as to the quality of the products, but the salesperson is offering them at a reasonable price. Both Channel Five News and Channel Nine News recently conducted on-air interviews with myself and the operator of the Cincinnati casket store to inquire as to our respective opinions if the current economic crisis is having an effect on the funeral buying public. The casket store operator felt that under the present dire ecomomic climate that his store was a viable option for families wishing to save money on funeral products. I happen to know that families have been spending less and less for the last ten years. Funeral consumers seem to see very little or a lessened value on caskets, and even funeral services provided in general. In my opinion, folks seem to place less value on the funeral experience as whole in the past few years, and that fact has lead to a marked increase in cremation. Some cemeteries have increased their prices so much on graves and on the charge to open and close the grave that more and more families are choosing a visitation followed by a funeral service, and then cremation. At the conclusion of the funeral ceremony the attendees depart and then we cremate their loved one and present the ashes to the family. This option eliminates the need for purchasing an adult grave space, paying the opening and closing charge, and a burial vault. Of course the ashes can still be buried in the cemetery, however, the cemetery charges will be greatly reduced.

Most funeral homes generally double the wholesale cost of most of their caskets to arrive at a fair retail price to the consumer. There are cemeteries in the area that are selling caskets to the public that have been marked up by as much as SEVEN TIMES the wholesale cost. This can occur due to the fact that we, as a society, deny death and we afraid of death, therefore, the subject is out of sight, out of mind- until the need arises. Since the majority of the public has no clue as to a reasonable casket price, then they can easily be taken advantage of. Inexpensive 20 gauage steel caskets should cost no more than $500.00-$1000.00; 18 gauge caskets should be no more than $1000.00-$2500.00, unless they are equipped with velvet interiors and custom corner hardware. If you decide to purchase a casket from a third party seller be sure to ask for a detailed description, such as the model number or even the name, such as "The Pink Rose" or "The Going Home". Feel free to call me or e-mail me and I will be glad to quote you a comparison price on the particular item, thus preventing you from overspending.

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