Economics

Just in Time For Halloween, Walmart (and Costco) Start Selling Caskets!

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Oh, it's fang-tastic! Just in time for Halloween, discount retail giants Walmart and Costco just started selling caskets, a (seriously) major breakthrough for customers in one of the most protectionist industries ever. Check out some details on how the racket works from this interview with Chip Mellor, the head of the Institute for Justice, which defended a free market in coffins.

And check out Walmart's selection here.

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  1. I’ll be surprised if any funeral homes will bury people who bring their own coffins. Most places still have laws that say you have to be buried by a licensed funeral parlor.

    1. Nah. This place has been in business for at least the last 15 years.

      6. A funeral provider may not refuse or charge a fee to handle a casket you bought elsewhere.
      The casket is the single most expensive item in a traditional funeral. In a 1996 survey, the AARP found the average price of a casket to be $1,658.

      Traditionally, caskets were sold only by funeral homes, but today cemeteries and retailers sell caskets. You can even purchase one on the Internet. You can also use a family built one if you choose. Caskets are available in many styles and prices and can be made from metal, wood, fiberglass or plastic.

      According to the federal “Funeral Rule,” it is illegal for a funeral home to charge a “handling fee” if you wish to bring in your own casket from an outside source.

      1. $1,658

        Damn. I think I’m going to get some cheap pine and make myself a coffin. I’ll store it in the garage rafters and put in my will that I’d like to be buried in it. Even if I use nice wood, I can save the family about $1608.

        1. The cheapest casket — buy a new fridge or whatnot and recycle the box. It’s GreenDying TM.

        2. I tried that, but some sissy white dude stole my coffin to save his worthless life and I got stuck being eaten by the fish.

          So if you do pursue this, keep your eye out for any thieving white guys.

    2. Actually, Costco’s been selling them online for several years.

    3. Actually, for whatever arcane reason, federal law requires funeral homes to accept third party caskets.

      Yay commerce clause! 😉

  2. I’m surprised Costco would sell anything that small. Or is it packages of six?

      1. For a second there, I thought he meant the size of the coffin.

    1. Costco has been selling caskets for YEARS. I always laugh at the casket counter after checkout, right next to the custom cabinets.

  3. In-store?

    1. Yes. For months now.

      1. Really? That’s friggin’ nuts. People don’t want coffins in their Wal-Marts.

        Not that I don’t like the free marketish win here, but. . .coffins? Which aisle?

        1. “Not that I don’t like the free marketish win here, but. . .coffins? Which aisle?”

          Aisle 13: Feminine Hygene Products

  4. Why not McDonalds. They could put a crematorium in the back and ask:
    “Would you like to be fried with that?”

  5. Two extra-large coffins wrapped together in clingfilm…

    1. no way, everything in Costco is in a clamshell blisterpack that requires thick leather gloves and a machete to open.

  6. So late capitalism has come to this? The sedated masses are celebrating that they can finally bury themselves.

    By the way, phone calls I made for a related post a few months back led me to believe there are more workarounds in more states than it might appear.

    Home burial is the frontier we really need to cross, or actually, cross back over. There is no reason you shouldn’t be buried in your own yard, subject to no greater limitations than general stuff like the hole must be as deep as the king’s leg is long.

    1. Home burial is the frontier we really need to cross, or actually, cross back over. There is no reason you shouldn’t be buried in your own yard, subject to no greater limitations than general stuff like the hole must be as deep as the king’s leg is long.

      I sense a new DIY movement.

  7. But Tim, what if there is no king around with whom to measure?

    1. “But Tim, what if there is no king around with whom to measure?”

      We’ll measure Larry.

  8. The Costco coffins are creepy as fuck. Shiny pink plastic deathboxes, next to the photo counter and huge TVs.

    1. No creepier than being ripped off for thousands of dollars by an asshole who specializes in hocking his monopoly-priced wares at you in the most vulnerable moments of your life.

      But then I’m probably a heartless fuck who doesn’t want the best for her dearly departed.

  9. Tim always has spare body parts around, Xeones. That won’t be a problem for him.

  10. Yeah, but the leg of a king? Those are endangered, you know.

    I bet Tim cheats and just uses a regular leg.

  11. Those are still too expensive. Bring back the pine box. Or maybe something made with cardboard. It could even be recycled.

    1. White linen shrouds. It’s the only way to go.

  12. I advised my family to cut me in half, run me through the dryer for a couple of hours, and then when I’m sufficiently desiccated, grind me up and load my remains into a bird feeder to be enjoyed by the lovely denizens of the air.

    Judging by their reaction, they don’t appreciate the substantial cost savings associated with this decision.

    1. It wasn’t that.

      They’d have to double the fabric freshner for at least a month afterwards.

  13. Why would anyone pay $1600+ for a casket when you can buy a device for putting passed-on family members to rest in the earth for $799 at Sears? Plus it’s reusable and comes with a Craftsman lifetime warranty.

  14. Save Money. Die Better.

  15. This is going to put mom-and-pop casket sellers out of business!

  16. Cremation for me. Scattered at the homestead, under the oaks.

    My best dog ever lived his whole life at our place in Wisconsin. When he died, we cremated him and scattered his ashes in the apple orchard. I can’t imagine a better final resting place.

  17. I’m suprised to see no libertarians here bitching about Federal Regulations requiring funeral homes to accept the CostCo/WalMart Deathbox.

    1. Largely because government regulations force you to go through funeral homes.

  18. The Devil! I’ve buried Gogol!

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  20. There’s always Viking funerals.

  21. I still can’t figure out why Tupperware hasn’t gotten into this racket. Snap on the lid, burp out the excess air and you’re good for a few centuries, at least.

  22. Personally, I think the Swedes are onto something. Of course they’re touting it as the ultimately green death… But, then, I am under the impression that this crowd finds (human) death in general to be fashionably green.

    1. I don’t care whether you want the Swedish burial, but it does perturb me that they talk about traditional burials being so bad for the environment and then causally forgetting to mention how they are going to get those bodies down to -18 C, or where the energy came from to liquify the nitrogen.

      Maybe they have a team of unicorns running on a treadmill made of rainbows to generate the electricity?

      True ecologists would insist on being buried above ground where they can feed buzzards and vultures. The Sioux indians were big on this (as well as zoroastrians).

      1. So who cares about old fashion burial? And don’t think that environmentally burials are better then cremations. When cremation of dead bodies is the trend! When you want some history then know about the Mungo lady she was cremated 20.000 years ago. So that was way earlier then the first burial took place. And when we want to talk about ecology then technical in Europe they have advanced cremation installations. Here the cremation equipment first of all they need to filter all required substances out. And so that the CO2 footprint of a cremation is lesser then a burial. Because energy can be stored or energy will be given back to the energy grid. In one way you could say that the green cycle is closed. Do you want to know more about a green cremation?

  23. Buzzards gotta eat. Worms, too.

  24. The three stages of grief:

    1. Denial

    Dogbert: No, Dilbert can’t be dead!

    2. Anger

    Dogbert: I’ll kill the scum who did this!

    3. Economics

    Dogbert: No expensive caskets; just wrap him in newspapers. He would have wanted it that way…

  25. @Tara Davis,

    That’s the funniest thing I have read in a while, thanks for the laugh!

  26. True in Europe they are a far ahead when it comes to green cremations. There is one cremation furnace manufacturer called DFW Europe that make this happen for crematoria in Scandinavia. Want to know more about there cremation solutions and there cremation technology?

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