"We're selling a casket for 25 to 60 percent less than the funeral home price . . . We have caskets starting at $450. We have a 32-ounce [per square foot] bronze casket for $3,895 that the funeral homes sell for between $5,500 and $6,600."
OK, you've lost a loved one, and the Rubins have given you a great deal on a casket. Now what?
The Rubins say they'll deliver the box to the funeral home of your choice. And the funeral director must accept it.
"It's federal law," said Rubin, unfolding a pamphlet from the Federal Trade Commission's bureau of consumer protection. It's right there in black and white: "The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere."
So far, every funeral director has accepted delivery. "There's a $10,000 fine if they refuse," Rubin declared.
Even so, during its first six months, business at the Casket Store has been. . .well, kind of dead. "Business has been slow," Rubin admitted. "It's a new concept. People are used to one-stop shopping. They're used to dealing with a particular funeral home for generations. I've had people tell me that they don't want to hurt the funeral director's feelings by buying here."
Most sales have involved a casket held in waiting for a terminally ill relative. When the person dies, the store delivers it to the mortuary handling the funeral.
The couple say pet caskets are selling well. Customers can also order gravestones and flowers.
Of course, a compulsive shopper - someone determined to be prepared for any situation - could buy a casket and store it until needed.
The Rubins say the Casket Store is a distributorship for a Canadian manufacturer. There are several outlets in Canada and about six in the United States, with several more expected to open this year.
The arrival of the Casket Store doesn't seem to have disturbed local funeral directors. "These stores have popped up in other places, but they don't seem to be able to make a go of it," said Charles Roman, manager of Kirk and Nice's suburban branch in Feasterville, Bucks County.
"Obviously we will accept a casket if the family buys one," he added, "but we would want them to sign off that we are not responsible for quality or durability."
Rubin said he would be thrilled to see others enter the business in the Delaware Valley to help popularize the concept. He has advertised on radio and in newspapers and even placed discounts in coupon books. His latest attempt to popularize comparative casket shopping are signs on supermarket carts.
Until the idea catches on, Rubin won't give up his old job as a real estate salesman in Montgomery County.
Among the first visitors to the new store was a parade of undertakers who predicted an early demise. "They told us we would fail - it would never work," said Rubin.
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