Wednesday, February 23, 2011


So you have a recent death in the family, you take a recommendation from a friend who also recently had a death in the family to go to a local funeral establishment. You were told it is a bit pricy and decide to see what they can do with your budget.

Knowing the price that your friend paid, you go and sit with the counselor from this local establishment and share with them what you are looking for them not aware that you are friends with the individual that referred you. You find yourself asking for pretty much the same type of service that your friend asked for and the totals are tallied.

Surprising as it is, your cost comes out to substantially less than your friend paid. How can this be? You didn’t ask for any discount nor did you share any information with the counselor about your income or budget. As a matter of fact, the only thing you and your friend that recommended you DON'T have in common is............. the color of your skin.

This is called “Race Baiting” and NO ONE will admit to it or talk about it in the industry (taboo). There is an assumption in the industry by some (not all) funeral home owners, will use the color of your skin or ethnic background to provide a suitable price to accommodate your pocket book. This is great for you, but for all the wrong reasons. There is an assumption by THIS specific funeral establishment that minorities are a poorer class and can not afford their overblown prices, therefore they are provided a reduced price on the assumption that you are unable to afford the bill. Again, this is good for you, This is also YOUR diamond that can be used against the funeral home if the cost of your service gets out to the general public that the funeral home charged you so little.

At this point you also have the option of negotiating in YOUR FAVOR! no matter how low they may go, you have the upper hand to get them to go lower or you will go elswere. (elswere is probably still lowere than them) If you feel there is an assumption on the funeral homes behalf that you come frome an assumed poorer class of people, then be as poor as you can be and do all you can to get the funeral sevice you want for close to nothing.

The intent of the funeral home is not to assist you, it is to charge you what THEY think you can pay and assume that you are from a poorer class of people because of your race. This is not only sad, but a form of stereotyping you. It also is very unfair for the family that does come in that does not fit the funeral establishments assumed poorer class or race. These people are forced to pay the full price of a service only because they don’t fit the counselor’s mold of what an assumed poor person looks like.

In the long run, this also does more damage to the business owner when you have a variety of people coming in demanding the same price as the previous and insisting on the equivalent service at the same cost leaving the poor counselor to defend their actions while the owners sole intention was to take anything he could from anyone to fill their pockets.

Also, this can be VERY BENEFICIAL to the community if you find yourself in a position to RECOMEND this specific funeral establishment to others in the community and SHARING THE PRICE you paid with others so they to can put the funeral homes feet to the fire and see just how caring they are by charging everyone the same price you were charged. Chances are this may happen a few times, then it will stop.

Be weary of the “Race Bait” game. Ask yourself if you are being played because of an assumption that you are of a poorer class or a specific minority only because the location is trying to get what it can out of you, and nothing more. The damage may not be to you, but more so to the community that is once again being fleeced to fill the coffers of a greedy little business owner.

This is a very poor buisness practice and over the long run the owner will lose control of their pricing and the establishment, as will the service... fail.

At Avenidas, all the pricing is the same, and all is offered equally to everyone. We are so proud of our fair pricing that we do not need to “Make it up as we go” to try and keep people in the door, or accommodate a specific race.

We also can prove we are the most afordable in the Western Valley. We dont need to tell you that on the phone to coax you in, Just check our website, our pricing speaks for itself. Unlike others who dont post pricing on their websites. We call it "Transparent Pricing" You would be suprised how many come in already knowing what they would like just from reviewing our website and pricing.

We are proud to serve you, be concerned about you and care for you!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Recently I was having a conversation with a minister from a local church here in Cashion. The topic came up of other funeral service providers and the chaplain asked; I had a service here at my church from another funeral home, I knew the representative that showed up and we started to talk about prices, I asked him about casket prices and he would not share them with me. Why not?"

Well, that pretty much speaks for itself. But I will tell you why if your not aware. Most if not just about all funeral homes charge allot for their caskets, more than they are worth. But then again, after working with numerous distributors, Most casket companies charge a great deal for a casket that they claim is "Made in the USA" when in fact it is only assembled in the USA. Remember that.

Shop around and casket prices are not etched in stone. If they don’t want to share the price on the phone or they may tell you "our caskets start at around $400. For what type of casket? A very simple cloth covered flat top. At Avenidas our cloth covered flat top start at $245. our metal 20 gauge caskets (Alex) starts at $625 at Avenidas. Anywhere else? Around $995. You decide.

Caskets are a vast majority of the funeral homes income, I know, I know, you will hear it all from the funeral home, “We have bills to pay” or “I have a family to feed” or “I have to pay the mortgage on this nice facility for YOU” (lets turn the tables here, now it’s your fault the price is so high, you wanted their nice facility, OR DO YOU?) Same song, look at the cars in the parking lot, you’ll see where its going. (I drive a truck)

I met with a family this past week that was a little concerned that their budget would not allow them the opportunity to have a visitation prior to sending the deceased home. They discussed prices and asked me "What are our options" I asked them "How big is your living room? They did not understand so I just shared with them. "Why not do a traditional velorio at your house"? "We can do that? How much will you charge for that?" I charge nothing because your house is yours, not mine. A simple transport and pick up fee of $100. Again, Families are not aware that this is an option. It is! I may lose the charges of a chapel visitation, but I gain the trust of a wonderful family that is just trying to do as much as they can inside of a budget. That is not asking so much. They are very pleased with their choices and I am happy to assist and present to them their options that they once again, knew nothing about.

This business that I choose to be in is not about the charges of every box of tissue that is used in the funeral home for a service. There was a time when you paid for the casket and everything else came with it. Those days are gone. Due to a good intention by the Federal Trade Commission many Funeral Homes have taken advantage of a "Good Intention" and twisted it in their favor to fleece a family of their hard earned savings.

Look, at Avenidas our services are very affordable.

Our Facility is VERY comfortable, clean, presentable and dignified.

Our Staff is extremely approachable, professional and kind. No attitude, no holier than thou.

And our Merchandise is quality and VERY, VERY affordable.

So there you have it. We work with you taking into consideration your budget, YOUR BUDGET! Not our wish list as to how much we hope you will spend.

I had a family come in with an insurance policy that they wanted to use to pay for the services. They asked if they could use it, I said yes. We sat and made all the arrangements and after it was all said and I told them that they would be getting a substantial amount back from the insurance company. Seeing how the economy had hit them exceptionally hard, they could not believe this. They said, "We thought we had to use it all on the funeral" (maybe at another funeral home, not with us) I told them "no, this is your policy that you can use as much or as little as you wish" They could not believe this and were so happy that they had a little bit of money to help them thru these economically difficult times.

I get many families in that think the same thing or have been lead to believe that they have no choice but to use the whole policy. Funeral home love insurance policies. They just let the family assume that the whole policy is to be gobbled up and say nothing; they just rack up the charges until the policy is exhausted. The poor family does not know any better and the funeral home walks away very happy.

Even Pre-arranged policies, if you wrote a large pre-arranged policy at another funeral home for says $6,000, here at Avenidas it can be used and the amount returned to the family is the difference between the amount of the policy and the amount of the service. Well, our most expensive package is around $4,500 so the amount returned to the family is $1,500. Is it worth it? Only you can answer that. At the time of death I'm pretty sure a little extra fund comes in handy to a family.

So there you have it today, a little bit of this and a little bit of that............

Thursday, February 10, 2011


have a very good friend of mine that owns a casket store, his name is Eddie Chavez. He owns "Eddies Caskets" here in Phoenix Arizona. Since I moved here to Phoenix back in 2003 I became aware of Eddie and his casket store.

I don’t think in all the valley in the casket industry will you find a more respected man. Eddie calls me at times and will say "Miguel, I have this Family..." That is when I know he needs me the most. I will always respond with, "What do YOU need me to do for them Eddie?" You see, to me, Eddie holds a great deal of respect by certain communities within the greater Phoenix area. He has been there for them. He probably will up to the day he is called home.

A Korean War Veteran, Eddie is an elderly Gentleman, to me, a Statesman. He has told me on more than one occasion, "Who is going to take care of the people once I am gone?" He means it. He is a very caring and compassionate man. at his age of 80+ years, he pulls up to your location in his big white van with a simple sign on it that say "Eddies Caskets" He walks with a cane and will share with you a story now and again, but only if interested about his experiences in the military. He can be a short spoken man. When speaking with him on the phone, he can talk with you in depth about the family he is asking you to help, or be quick to hang up.

Eddie sells a variety of caskets at his location, Imports, Metal, Hardwoods, various colors. He shops far and wide for a "good deal" to present to the community. People always go to him; there are families that have been returning to him for years. I remember him telling me once a story when he sold a casket back in the 50's, THE 50'S! How about that.

As any casket store, Eddie does not mark his merchandise up much. That is why he is so proud of his business. I remember he told me once, "The funeral homes wouldn’t be so mad at me if they wouldn’t mark their caskets up so much!" I agree, that is why I follow his mark-up practices, just a little to make a simple profit. So when Eddie delivers a casket to my funeral home, it doesn’t hurt, because I leave the casket sale to him, I respect his business, and in turn, should the Family think of purchasing a casket from me, I offer them a % off the services to stay with his casket. That is called good business and respect for a upstanding gentleman that has been serving the community for so long.

There are funeral homes out there that see the family as a target, they will offer to sell a "Package" service at a lower price but ONLY if they buy the funeral home CASKET. What greed, how sad. No respect for themselves, their fellow businessman or the industry. To them it is all about the quick buck, never mind the referral by Eddie to their location. They don’t like him anyways because besides, he owns a CASKET STORE, to some in the industry that is considered a bottom feeder. Of course they want you to see it like that, the funeral home is losing out on up to $1,500 profit on a casket sale. I have know funeral home owners who's only advice to a family was "Just cancel the check you wrote to Eddie, you don't even have to go back there" That's quality business practices and morality.

Again, greed, how sad.

Oh, "Eddies Caskets" Phone Number 602-579-0436
I have another friend, Her name is Angie, Angie also sells caskets, maybe not as much as Eddie but still, she has kind of developed the name of the Eddie of the west side. Angie's stock is a little down right now, but she is still a valuable asset to the communities and is sought out by families at need. Angie is trying to decide whether to continue in the casket industry, it is more a word of mouth industry and Angie has a wonderful heart, she cares a great deal for families, just like Eddie, and will go above and beyond to help, and most of the time it is all about the casket, the rest she does on her own time, and out of her own pocket. Such compassion.

Casket stores are not a bad thing, unfortunately there are some out there that feel the greed of the funeral industry and mark their caskets up a great deal. That’s a shame.

My good friend Joey of Frugal Caskets makes some WONDERFUL, BEAUTIFUL caskets at a very affordable price. Unfortunately Joey is moving on to bigger and better things and is closing his business if he cant find a buyer. It is a good business and makes beautiful caskets.

A thing about caskets......................, time to teach!

Most expensive brands to least expensive brand;

1. Batesville
2. York
3. Aurora
4. Astral
5. Local Casket Manufactures
6. Import casket manufacturers

OK, so what is a good price on a casket you ask? I know ….. you ask, you ask!

Remember, this is no science, any funeral home can ask any price for anything they want.
what they ask is what they ask, it does NOT make them wrong, you need to ask yourself how much your willing to pay. BUT! This can be the difference between a $2,500 funeral, or a $4,200 funeral.

This pricing is what I, a funeral home owner consider FAIR pricing to support my business and cover my overhead.

20 Gauge no gasketed single VERY PLAIN color casket with adjustable bed and fixed same color hardware and crepe interior. (Usually Copper or Silver only) COLOR HAS NO BRILLIANCE, ruff finish. Usually referred to as "TRINDEX" (This casket works FINE for what you may need it for, consider it!)
About $500 to $725
20 Gauge no gasketed single color casket with adjustable bed and fixed same color hardware and crepe interior.
About $550 to $775
20 Gauge non gasketed single color casket with adjustable bed fixed SHINY hardware and crepe interior.
About $650 to $850
20 Gauge gasketed single color or dusted casket with adjustable bed and fixed SHINY hardware with crepe interior.
About $850 to $1100
20 Gauge gasketed single color or two toned casket with adjustable bed and fixed print on corners SHINY hardware, embroidered head panel and crepe interior.
About $950 to $1,350
18 Gauge gasketed single color, shaded or metal brushed with adjustable bed and swing bar hardware with embroidered head panel and crepe or velvet interior.
About $1,150 to $1,750

16 gauge gasketed single color, shaded or metal brushed with adjustable bed and swing bar hardware, velvet interior and/or embroidered head panel.
About $1,650 to $2,200

Stainless Steel gasketed single color, shaded or metal brushed with adjustable bed and swing bar hardware with velvet interior.
About $2,200 to $2,800
32 oz Copper single color, shaded or metal brushed with adjustable bed and swing bar hardware with velvet interior.
About $2,600 to $3,300
32 oz Bronze single color, shaded or metal brushed with adjustable bed and swing bar hardware with velvet interior.
About $3,300 to $3,600


Wood, wow, most wood caskets come from China were they are made with very cheap labor but are HIGH QUALITY! China has always been renown for its ability to build any quality wood ANYTHING. THESE CASKETS ARE GOOD! A funeral home makes a Very fat profit on these caskets, they will tell you ANYTHING to get you to believe it is made in America if you don't care for Chinese products.


Mahogany, Most Expensive
Solid Mahogany, High Gloss Finish, Velvet interior, Up to $5,000, depending on were you shop. Priced reasonably?
$2,800 to $3,300

Cherry is very prestigious and stately, Presidential
Solid Cherry, High Gloss hand rubbed finish, Velvet Interior
$1,800 to $2,250

Oak, very dignified
Solid Oak, Satin finish, adjustable bed, Velvet interior 
$1,800 to $2,400 

Pieta, Vere religious
High Gloss finish, adjustable bed, Velvet or Crepe interior, fix or swing bar hardware, Poplar wood . 
$1,800 to $2,400

With the exception of a Mahogany casket, if you are paying over $2,800 for a wood, SOLID WOOD casket, you are paying way to much. If you are paying over $1,900 for a casket "I" personally think its to much but that's just me, But some people would like a Mahogany casket. That's OK.

This is a Cherry Veneer Wood Casket, can you tell the difference?
Veneer woods are much more affordable than solid woods and they look good, to good for some funeral homes to market them, (Veneer is thin wood sheets glued over pressed or cheaper wood) Be cautious when purchasing a wood casket. Look at the bottom to ensure it is solid wood. If you pay over $1,100 for a veneer casket, that's way to much.

Build your own casket, You can and the mortuary and cemetery have to use it, it's the law and legal. No inspections, no fee's, nothing, just take it to the funeral home.


The rules are, there are no rules. All funeral homes are directed by the Federal Trade Commission (the big guys in Washington D.C.) to accept a casket from another vendor with no fees, penalties or inspection charges. The family is not required to sign a release nor or they required to be there when the casket arrives.

Contrary to what some funeral home owners believe, they are not doctors or lawyers nor do they fall under ANY of the same special guidelines that those type of specialists do. They are funeral directors, that’s all and most hold only a Associates Degree in "Mortuary Science". That is commendable I might add, but it is not a "Doctorate" in anything. They are required to follow the same guidelines as me, and yes, I am not a funeral director. Just a business owner like them, and maybe you, that's trying to make a difference for the community through savings, affordability and compassion.

So there you have it, remember, these prices you probably will find at MOST casket stores and few funeral homes, well, mine anyways. Don't underestimate casket stores, most are reputable, some are not. Even some funeral homes offer good pricing in regards to caskets, but most don't. SHOP AROUND!

For more information about caskets, follow the blue links and read:

Semper Fi

Miguel Legaspi