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VALLEY WEEKEND | BARGAINS

Casket Direct Offers Savings Over Mortuary

Buying a coffin from a funeral home can cost up to 70% more. The service includes storage of the purchase.

February 29, 1996|GERI COOK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In August 1994, the Federal Trade Commission passed a ruling making it illegal for mortuaries to add a "handling" charge for a casket purchased outside the funeral home.

This ruling opened an avenue for the consumer to purchase a casket outside the mortuary and thereby save a considerable amount of money. Direct Casket, based in Van Nuys, offers free shipping in Southern California and free storage for those who want to purchase their casket in advance. A certificate of title is issued by Direct Casket that guarantees delivery, within 24 hours' notice, to any funeral home in the continental United States. All caskets are stored in the company's fully insured warehouse in California, or customers can take possession of the casket when it is purchased.

Since the casket is generally the most costly item in the total price of the funeral, a 50% to 70% lower price prove a tremendous savings.

The extensive selection at Direct Casket starts with an unfinished, unlined pine model, Abraham, for $495 (mortuary price $895). You save $400. A burnished gold 18-gauge steel model, Pieta, carries a price tag at mortuaries of $3,345, but is $1,525 at Direct Casket, a savings of $1,820.

The more expensive the casket, the bigger the savings. The Judah model, for instance, is made of Honduran mahogany, lined with velvet and sells for $5,995 at most funeral homes. Direct Casket's price is $2,795. Anytime you can save $3,200, it's worth investigating.

"The FTC ruling was enacted in response to complaints from the public that funeral parlors often charged mourners for unneeded services," said Mardi Frank, president of Direct Casket and a former funeral director. "It enables consumers to make prearrangements without paying inordinately high prices or inflicting these costs on their families."

Direct Casket, 14546 Hamlin St., Van Nuys; call (800) 77CASKET.

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WEEKEND SUPER SALE: Probably the best bargain source for antique jewelry in Southern California is the Collector's Eye. The inventory dates to the early 1900s and is meticulously organized, making for wonderful browsing. In the 14 years the store has been in business, it has never had a storewide sale, so this is a first. Everything in the store will be 25% off through Sunday.

The Collector's Eye, 21435 Sherman Way, Canoga Park; (818) 347-9343; 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

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Today through Monday, there will be sidewalk/warehouse blowout sales--with 70% reduction on all sale items--at both locations of For Kids Only. One of the best purveyors of children's clothes at bargain prices, the store has infant to preteen sizes, as well as shoes.

For Kids Only, 18332 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana; (818) 708-9453; and 746 N. Fairfax, Los Angeles; (213) 650-4885.

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