Funeral retail store comes to Harrison County - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Funeral retail store comes to Harrison County

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For The State Journal

Memorializing loved ones — human and animal — is the focus of the state’s first funeral retail store.

Affordable Funeral and Cremation Center, located at 308 Buckhannon Pike, Nutter Fort, Harrison County, hosted its grand opening April 1.

The store sells a range of products that can be purchased at any stage of life — acquiring a casket or urn before it’s needed or for service planning when someone dies; buying a gift such as a silk flower arrangement to take to a funeral home visitation; and commissioning a memorial video, blanket or jewelry even several years after a death.

“We may be first in the area to offer this service, but it is being offered in many other states, and has proven to be successful,” co-owner David Bolyard said. “When planning the opening of our store, we traveled to other areas to observe existing businesses offering the retail store concept. It’s still somewhat unique in the funeral industry.”

It’s one-stop shopping for planning services and memorializing loved ones who have passed away.

“What we’re finding is more and more people are going with cremation and wanting other options than traditional funerals,” Bolyard said.

The store is not affiliated with a specific funeral home but Bolyard and co-owner Jason Cooke are funeral directors.

“Funeral homes don’t have floor space or they don’t get into the cremation stuff and show everything possible,” Bolyard said, listing lamps, photo albums and clocks that can hold ashes as some of the available products. “It’s really just so much more than what we’re finding a lot of funeral homes offer.”

The store can order jewelry, lighters or money clips personalized with a loved one’s fingerprint. There are urns designed for scattering ashes as well as keeping them and mini urns for dividing ashes among several surviving loved ones.

“People are doing so much more now with ashes instead of just burying them,” he said. “It’s not uncommon to have them divided.”

Urns and caskets can be personalized with a wrap, similar to the way vehicles are emblazoned with advertisements.

“You can customize it to just about anything,” Bolyard said. “We just did one that was a fire truck. We can wrap a photo of the family farm around it or put family photos on it. It’s a personalization a lot of places offer.”

The market is not entirely in at-need services, Bolyard said.

“What we’re finding is people want personalized portraits, blankets and videos that might not have been offered at the time they lost a loved one.

“They can be made now for someone who passed 15 years ago.”

The store doesn’t look like a funeral home. It’s brightly lit. It does sell caskets, but they’re displayed around the corner from the main sales floor.

“We will deliver to any funeral home and they have to accept it,” Bolyard said. “They can’t charge a receiving fee. Things are changing.

“People can go online and order caskets from Costco or Walmart. It gives a family options.”

It is strictly a retail store so the owners do not do pre-need arrangements, which is something the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office oversees. If someone wants to buy a casket now before he needs it, it’s cash and carry.

“We can’t hold or store it,” Bolyard said. “If you buy it, you take it.”

The store also sells caskets, urns, memorial jewelry and grave markers for pets.

The store partners with local small businesses to be able to offer some of its stock, such as statuary and headstones. Those partners are: The Flower Shop, Donna’s Flower Shop, Rose of Sharon, Surock Monument, 3H Granite and Sign of the Fish. Bolyard said the partnership is win-win, giving the other small businesses another place to display their products at a site that may get more traffic than his own location.

“With so many different options we just try to offer things at an affordable price so instead of people having to go to the Internet, they can come to store and physically see stuff without having to shop and pay shipping and not know what it’s going to look like until they get it,” he said

Affordable Funeral and Cremation Center is open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and other times by appointment.