Funerals are expensive. Beyond the obvious emotional costs, the average burial costs more than $7000. Worse, that price has gone up about 6.6% over the last five years, according to the National Funeral Directors Association, so this isn't just due to recent supply chain issues that may or may not affect the dead. Some of those costs are due to markups — like many US industries, the distribution business has locked in certain business deals, ensuring that they stay in business by selling directly to funeral homes rather than consumers.
But after a particularly deadly 18 months or so, someone's finally trying to change that. From The Boston Globe:
[20-year funeral industry veteran Scott Ginsberg] co-founded Titan Casket — which bills itself as "the Warby Parker of caskets" after the hip online eyewear business — selling caskets directly to consumers, cutting out funeral home middlemen, and saving people hundreds of dollars to bury their loved ones.
"Funeral homes enjoy a 200 to 400 percent markup" on casket sales, he said. "I thought to myself, 'There is got to be really a better way than this.' I mean, really, this industry really hasn't changed in over 100 years. And most people don't shop funerals."
Titan is one of a growing number of online casket stores seeking to upend the long-established funeral industry, and are aided by a federal requirement that funeral directors must accept a casket purchased elsewhere by the family. They're also part of what some call a larger shift in Americans' perceptions about death, period, amid a pandemic that has changed both funerals and how some people think about the end of life.
It's wild to think that it's taken this long to break the funeral supply chain — but this sounds like a potentially positive shift. Now, you can buy a nice casket for $1000 right from Amazon; an even fancier copper-plated one is available for $2000, which is still a bargain, all things considered. They're not Prime eligible, but shipping is still free. I wouldn't expect any Black Friday deals, but really, isn't every Friday a Black Friday for the casket industry?
Death, disrupted: How the Boston-based 'Warby Parker of caskets' aims to upend the funeral business [Janelle Nanos / The Boston Globe]