Sunday, November 1, 2009

Till death do us part: selling caskets

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is now catering to its shoppers' needs from cradle to grave.The world's largest retailer has introduced online sales of caskets, expanding a merchandise selection that spans engagement rings and baby gear to a new major milestone in its shoppers' lives. Shoppers can choose from the Lady de Guadalupe steel casket for $895 or a sienna bronze casket for $2,899.00. spokesman Ravi Jariwala said it is selling the products as a "limited beta test" that launched within the last few weeks.Wal-Mart has been revamping its merchandise selection in stores and online to expand into categories it believes have high potential for growth.

The funeral service industry generates $11 billion in revenue a year, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. In 2007, the association said the U.S. death rate was 8.0 people per thousand, and that is expected to rise to 9.3 people per thousand by the year 2020.

The caskets do not qualify for's free site-to-store shipping program, where shoppers can buy an item online and have it shipped to a local store for free.
Instead, the website says the caskets require freight delivery to the shopper's preferred address. The estimated shipping cost for the sienna bronze casket is $99.
(Not bad for a metal casket. Is any assembly required?)

Picture this: Your loved one, who had a chronic condition (like living) had the foresight to pick out the casket and buy it from Walmart ahead of time. Maybe they were strange enough to even sleep in it or at least to scare the kids on Halloween. When your loved one passed on and it was time for final arrangements what do you tell the funeral home when they lead you to the casket gallery? "No thanks, we brought our own." Will they accept it or is it like the movies that allows no outside food or drinks so they can sell you theirs? And if that's the case, isn't that a good excuse for the next step...Walmart embalming services? Walmart crematorium? Walmart funeral services at the Walmart church? It won't be enough that funeral goers receive discount coupons for attending. Just doesn't seem right, does it?

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