The hours after the death of a loved one might seem like an unlikely time to embark on comparison shopping, but Richard Davis is finding plenty of customers who do.
Davis, 48, operates Davis Brothers Casket & Monument Co., where he sells discount caskets and headstones from a storefront at Southgate Plaza. He opened at the start of this year and sold 20 caskets in his first month he said in a recent interview.
“I can underprice any casket company around,” he said. Unlike most funeral homes, prices are highlights of his company's website at davisbrothersllc.com: “Monuments starting at $375; Caskets starting at $699.”
“I save the average family $1,800 to $2,500,” he said.
He said there are two keys to his delivering caskets at lower prices. First, he uses caskets imported from other countries. He says they are comparable in quality but much less expensive. Second, he and his seven brothers have a casket-distribution company in Indianapolis that sold 7,800 coffins last year. That's enough burial business for the brothers to get excellent wholesale prices, which allows him to operate with lower prices to consumers.
“I am the distributor, so we cut the distributor out of the price,” he said.
Davis, a former Fort Wayne Police officer, said he has had no difficulties so far in working with funeral homes here. Through the Indianapolis casket distributor and the newly established business in Fort Wayne, he said, “I've delivered to just about every funeral home in town.”
Price isn't everything in his venture.
He doesn't sell the least expensive caskets available, such as those made of fabric over pressed wood, simply because he can't imagine burying a loved one in something that looked so cheap, he said. Because he has access to a warehouse of caskets in Indianapolis, he said, he can deliver the same day or next day after orders are placed.
“I get enough calls from funeral homes that I actually don't have to sell to the public. But this is something I want to do to provide a service for the community,” he said. “People are out of work; they just don't have any money.”