Who buys a casket from a kiosk?

Filed under: Opinion |

Sam Walton must be turning over in his grave.

Costco, an archrival of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club in the discount retailing wars, is test-marketing a new line of products – caskets.

Now maybe I’m just not as worldly as the next guy, but selling caskets at a warehouse store just seems a bit, well, morbid.

I can imagine a conversation going something like this:

“You know, Dad, you and Mom aren’t getting any younger, and those pesky little medical problems do seem to be occurring with greater frequency. So, as long as we’re here stocking up on a month’s worth of bulk items, why don’t we pick out a nice box for both of you?”

“Surely you’re joking No. 2 son. You’re mother really isn’t that old, and I’m not quite certain that I’m ready to admit that I’m not long for this world.”

“But Dad, let’s be realistic. Nobody lives forever, and you guys aren’t exactly spring chickens. And heck, look at those prices. Surely you’d have to agree that it makes more sense to pick up a casket on the cheap now than have us kids drop a load of cash after you’re gone because some funeral director took advantage of us during our time of grief.”

“You do sound serious, son.”

“Just being practical. Look at it like buying a mattress. I know these samples in the kiosk aren’t full size, but there’s enough stuff there to give you some idea about the quality and comfort. I do want you and Mom to be comfortable, so I’m not advocating the bottom of the barrel entry level casket, but let’s not go overboard either. After all, when they stuff you inside you are going to be dead.”

“Maybe we should wait. Your mother and brother and sisters might want to chime in on this. I don’t think caskets were ever intended to be a Saturday afternoon impulse buy.”

“But Dad, that’s the great thing about competition and discount prices. You can get everything at Costco. They can fulfill all your needs from cradle to grave. Wal-Mart only cares about you when you’re alive. Costco wants your cash even when you’re dead, or at least before, since technically it would be tough to buy a casket if you couldn’t drive over here.”

“You do sound serious, son.”

“This is capitalism at its finest Dad. This is why you paid for those eight years that I spent in junior college. This is that whole Boy Scout ‘always prepared’ thing playing out in real life, or death, or something. Just feel that Dad. That casket sample shouts quality. That’s 18-gauge steel. There won’t be a whole lot of rain or dirt penetrating through that thing.”

“Maybe we should just do things the traditional way, son.”

“Traditional way? Do we still buy groceries at the grocery store? Do we still buy tires at the tire store? Do we still drink coffee that we brewed at home? I don’t think so. The world is changing. And we’re either going to hitch a ride or get left behind. So pick out a casket that you like or I’m going to tell the director of the rest home not to let you watch TV Land for a week.”

“You do sound serious, son.”

“Darn tootin’ Dad. I’m not going to be the only Baby Boomer on the block who hasn’t bought his parents a Costco casket. How do you think that would that look at the next neighborhood association meeting?”

“You know No. 2, you might be right. And come to think of it, that silver one does look kinda spiffy. But I’m still not sure we should tell your mother about this.”

“Mum’s the word.”

Managing Editor Mike Boyd can be reached at 634-3223, ext. 206 or Mike.Boyd@csbj.com.