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Marketplace Scratch Pad

Checking out at Wal-Mart

Scott Jagow Oct 29, 2009

There are few, if any, boundaries on what Wal-Mart might offer its customers. The retailer has started selling caskets on its website. While some people might recoil at the idea of a coffin from Wal-Mart, others say it’s about time!

You can peruse Wal-Mart’s caskets here. Almost all of them sell for the low, low price of less than $2000, including the “American Patriot” ($1099), the “Lovely in All Ways Stainless Steel” ($1799), the “Pieta and the Last Supper” ($1599) and the “Lady de Guadelupe” ($895) pictured here:

By the way, when I did the search, it returned a selection of caskets, prices and photos, plus a selection of movies starring an actor named Frederick Coffin (now deceased). You know, in case, I wanted a DVD with my casket.

Sorry, you can’t have your coffin delivered to the nearest Wal-Mart and pick it up. And no free shipping. Still, the prices are a third of what some funeral homes charge.

Costco’s been offering caskets for a while, so this isn’t something new. But when Wal-Mart gets involved, it can be a game-changer.

The Oklahoman quotes Congressmen Paul Wesselhoft, who calls his state’s funeral home industry “a cartel” that wants to gouge its customers:

“There is nothing mystical about what you’re buying,” he said. “They’re either wood or aluminum and can be made in a number of shops at far less expense. People who are grieving are being pressured to buy caskets they really can’t afford.”

As a result, Wesselhoft said, cremation services are skyrocketing in Oklahoma.

“It’s really forcing Oklahomans to go against their cultural habit,” he said.

Now, they can continue to bury each other in the ground for just 12 monthly installments of $89.99.

I wonder what’s next? Maybe you’ll be able to pick up a death certificate at the cash register, in addition to gift cards and gum? It makes me think of the movie, Idiocracy. A guy wakes up 500 years in the future, and at one point, he goes into a Costco that literally sells everything, including livestock. It’s so big, people take the subway to get from one end to the other:

So, caskets at Wal-Mart. A good development or a bad one?

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