Wal-Mart starts selling caskets, urns online

MILWAUKEE — The world’s largest retailer wants to keep its customers even after they die.

MILWAUKEE — The world’s largest retailer wants to keep its customers even after they die.

Wal-Mart has started selling caskets on its Web site at prices that undercut many funeral homes, long the major seller of caskets.

The move follows a similar one by discount rival Costco, which also sells caskets on its site.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., quietly put up about 15 caskets and dozens of urns on its Web site last week.

Prices range from $999 for models like “Dad Remembered” and “Mom Remembered” steel caskets to the mid-level $1,699 “Executive Privilege.” All are less than $2,000, except for the Sienna Bronze Casket, which sells for $3,199.

Caskets ship within 48 hours. Federal law requires funeral homes to accept third-party caskets.

The caskets come from Star Legacy Funeral Network, Inc., a company based in McHenry, Ill., that sells the same caskets for about the same price — some less — on its site, along with many others.

Star Legacy CEO Rick Obadiah said the response in the first week has been better than the company or Wal-Mart expected, though he declined to give specifics. A spokesman for Walmart.com also declined to release sales figures and downplayed the venture.

“Several online retailers offer this category on their sites,” spokesman Ravi Jariwala wrote in an email. “We are simply conducting a limited beta test to understand customer response.”

But Obadiah said it is not simply a test. He said more than 200 Star Legacy products, including pet urns and memorial jewelry, and eventually about two dozen caskets, will be sold at walmart.com. The company also supplies similar types of products to online retailer Overstock.com and urns to CostCo’s Web site.

Other parts of the Wal-Mart empire also sell funeral wares. The company’s samsclub.com site sells casket floral arrangements for about $300.

Part of the business model is to get people to plan ahead: Walmart.com is allowing people to pay for the caskets over a period of 12 months for no interest.

The move gives more power to consumers and helps them avoid high mark-ups on caskets, which can often be several hundred per cent, said R. Brian Burkhardt, a funeral director who blogs as “Your Funeral Guy.”

“You can get a quality casket for $1,000 rather than pay $2,000, $3,000 or $5,000 in a funeral home. That’s where it helps the consumer,” he said.

The industry is not too concerned about Wal-Mart entering the market, said Pat Lynch, president-elect of the National Funeral Home Directors Association. Consumers have been able to buy caskets online and from other sources for years, with minimal effect on the business, he said.

Wal-Mart’s prices for caskets don’t differ greatly from those offered at funeral homes, most of which range from $500 to $5,000, Lynch said. He declined to give an average price, saying a casket selection is a personal one.

He said Wal-Mart can’t offer one thing funeral directors do have: the ability to comfort someone during a trying time.

“There’s no question in my mind as a funeral director for nearly 40 years that the most critical element is the human contact,” he said.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Buccaneers battle Wolfpack in AFL semifinal

The Central Alberta Buccaneers battled the Calgary Wolfpack in the Alberta Football… Continue reading

Raising awareness for Bikers Against Child Abuse

Second annual Raise A Ruckus Against Child Abuse was held at the Red Deer Radisson Hotel Saturday

Central Alberta Yogathon cancelled Saturday

Due to air quality concerns the fourth annual event will take place Sept. 15

City Hall Park construction begins next week

Construction to update Red Deer’s City Hall Park is set to begin… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Jazz at the Lake begins

The 16 annual event began Friday and runs until Sunday in Sylvan Lake

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Thousands to attend funeral service for officers killed in Fredericton shooting

FREDERICTON — Hundreds of people have lined the route of a funeral… Continue reading

Calgary police officer seriously injured

CALGARY — The Calgary Police Service says one of its officers was… Continue reading

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

MONTREAL — Canadian politicians are adding their voices to the international reaction… Continue reading

‘Four of a dozen kids will not make it:’ Tina Fontaine’s family healing together

WINNIPEG — Melissa Stevenson was just starting her career 18 years ago… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $16 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $16 million jackpot… Continue reading

Hundreds of neo-Nazis march in Berlin, protected by police

BERLIN — Hundreds of neo-Nazis waving flags with the colours of the… Continue reading

Romanian trucker is Genoa bridge’s 43rd victim

GENOA, Italy — The Latest on the Italy bridge collapse (all times… Continue reading

1 dead, 6 injured after building collapse in Nigeria capital

ABUJA, Nigeria — An emergency response chief says one person is dead… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month