|This seems to
be a growing trend among progressive funeral homes today. Since we
first published an article in January 2011 about ‘US Funeral Homes Adapting
to Host Weddings and Other Life Celebration Events’, it seems there are
more and more innovative ways in which funeral homes are serving as community
The bottom line is that gross
revenues for funeral homes are decreasing as our cultural attitudes to
death rituals change. Traditional funerals are in decline, cremation
is on the increase, home funerals are experiencing a revival, and purchasing
funeral merchandise online has become a ‘norm’. All of this means
funeral businesses are making less now than they did ten years ago.
And what was once considered a ‘job for life’ now needs a forward-thinking
approach in how to market the business, how to reach new audiences and
how to bring in new revenue streams.
The Robinson Funeral Home
in South Carolina caused quite a ‘storm in a tea-cup’ (excuse the pun)
in October 2011 with the news that went viral about the opening of a Starbucks
in their funeral home.
This wasn’t a case of a funeral
home opening a corporate coffee store on their premises, but an innovative
idea to open a ‘coffee corner’ offering Starbucks coffee within the community
area of the Robinson Funeral Home. The coffee corner is open
to the general public as well as family making funeral arrangements.
It apparently fit with the legacy of the Robinson Funeral Home that
had originally opened its doors within a main street store that offered
Is it so strange to think
about sitting down in a funeral home and enjoying some light refreshments?
Surely there are great benefits to a funeral business if it can become
more integrated into local community life and culture. And what better
way than encouraging your local community to stop by and share their gossip
over a caramel latte?
Arts and Crafts….and Caskets?
Another interesting adaptation
of unused funeral facility space has been to host art shows. A number of
funeral homes across the U.S. have hosted art shows, both temporary and
permanent. It seems the somber, quiet and moody spaces within a funeral
home make the ideal artsy backdrop for displaying our creative expositions.
In December 2012 Carey
Hand Cox-Parker Funeral Home in Winter Park, Florida opened a converted
casket storeroom as a permanent art gallery. Grace Funeral & Cremation
Services of Rockford, Illinois have been hosting seasonal art shows
for some time and this month will host the "Art for Eternity" art show,
whereby local artists will showcase their talent displayed on top on caskets.
Using redundant space within
a funeral home to host an art show may not be the greatest revenue-generating
option, but it must certainly expose a funeral home to a completely different
Reunion or séance?
A recent news story about a
high school reunion caused something of a stir when the class of 1948 Lincoln
High School in Wisconsin announced that their 65th reunion would be held
at Harrigan Parkside Funeral Home. The daughter of one
attendee reacted by stating, “Someone has a weird sense of humor! Are they
connecting with classmates that have passed?” Her mother, Alice
Baryenbruch (82), says: “I’m familiar with funeral homes at this age so
it doesn’t seem weird at all!”
So whether it is a life event,
a celebration, a community gathering or an artistic exposition, funeral
facilities have an emerging opportunity to position themselves as the center
and soul of their community. With profit margins dwindling by a reported
8.5% a year for traditional funeral homes, this new market opportunity
will re-invigorate those funeral businesses that can find new and imaginative
ways to utilize their space.
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
& Coffee: Starbucks to Open Inside Upstate Funeral Home
and dollars: Funeral industry faces changes, works to adapt
Park funeral home hosts art gallery
high school reunion to be held at funeral home building