Unexpected car repairs and medical bills often are an unpleasant fact of life, but at least in a pinch the costs can be worked around or put off.
The funeral of a lost loved one can't wait, however, and families often end up digging themselves into debt to provide a decent burial. The staff of a new business, Pensacola Caskets, says it wants to make funeral costs more manageable by offering discounted coffins.
"A lot of people don't have $20,000 and $30,000 insurance policies to cover funeral services," said Ellison Bennett, a spokesman for the company. "We try to ease that burden a little bit."
Partners Bennett and businessman Jay Patel held the grand opening for Pensacola Caskets on Monday, and about two dozen people took a tour of the showroom at 3848 N. Davis Hwy.
The aim of the company was less about making money, and more about offering a service, Patel said.
Patel and Bennett smiled when someone at the grand opening asked the age-old question of smart shoppers everywhere, "So what's the catch?"
"There is no catch," Bennett said. "We came together because we want to give a service. ...We're telling the customers that even after you bury your loved one, you still have to keep living. We want people to put money back in their pockets, instead of in the ground."
There were about a dozen different caskets on display recently in a variety of colors, styles and thicknesses, with even more available online. The caskets are the same quality as those sold at funeral homes, but a fraction of the price, Bennett said.
"Normally, this casket would sell for $3,600," Bennett said, laying his hand on an 18-gauge, pink-and-white metal casket with pink roses. "We sell it for $1,795, which is basically our cost for the casket and shipping it here."
The caskets in the showroom range from about $1,000 to $3,500, with the majority falling between $1,500 and $2,000. All are metal and sealable with adjustable beds. They range from 16-gauge, the thickest, to 20-gauge, the thinnest.
Most of the caskets cost between a half and a third of what a customer would pay at a funeral home, Bennett said. Some online wholesalers offer prices comparable to Pensacola Caskets, but shipping costs often negate most of the savings.
The company accepts calls 24/7 and will deliver for free anywhere within 100 miles, including funeral homes. The business also offers payment plans.