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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - While making funeral arrangements before a person dies can be a big help and comfort for surviving family members, it is something that a lot of people just don't do. There are those who just don't want to talk about it, or admit that it is not going to happen.
A Wilmington man was in that situation late last year, when his mother passed away. And now, he has started a local business that deals with the final chapter in a person's life - in a way that could save the deceased's estate a lot of money.
When Jim Currin's mother passed away in December, he did what most people in the same situation probably do - he went to the funeral home to plan the final arrangements.
But in the end, he wound up saving over $2,000 by not buying his mother's casket from the funeral home, which handled the funeral service, but thru a retail store in Burlington that sells caskets.
"We went into the selection room and the individual basically said here are ten caskets," said Currin. "We looked at their prices and told them we were going to buy the casket elsewhere, so we went back and purchased the casket and saved about $2,000 for that."
Currin said he, and probably most people faced with a quick decision about buying a casket, was not aware of Federal Trade Commission regulations that have been around since 1984. That was the year the FTC forced changes on the funeral industry, requiring, among other things, that funeral homes itemize their charges.
Currin also says the federal regulation prohibits funeral homes from charging any additional fees to consumers who purchases a casket somewhere else.
"People are just used to going to a funeral home and whatever they offer is what they end of having to buy," said Currin. "I can offer them for less than they do."
Both Currin and his wife are retired, but after their experience in December, decided to let others know about the FTC regulation and have opened their own business on Van Campen Boulevard, near WalMart.
Currin admits that having a store that sells caskets and urns is unusual, but says his goal is to provide meaningful, dignified, personal service to the families that come into his store. He says he knows it is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it might be the hardest thing a person will ever have to do, but feels he is offering a service for families that are grieving.
"I am just selling them for less," said Currin.
Currin says he is still trying to get the message out that people have a choice and says for the most part, the local funeral industry's reaction has been mostly good, but admits he has found some of them just wish he would go away.
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