Cheaper Coffins and Happier Hours

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In a tough economy, the casket-making business is getting buried, and the restaurant business is trying to get more appetizing.

The WSJ reports that business is bad for manufacturers of coffins and caskets (there’s a difference, you’ll see). Why? People are increasingly likely to opt for cremations, which cost about $1,400, a lot less than the $7,000+ involved in a traditional burial. Also, the fact that Wal-Mart and other discounters now sell caskets and urns may have something to do with it.

From the WSJ:

People who do choose caskets or coffins—coffins have six sides, caskets are rectangular—have become more frugal during the slump, forgoing higher-priced “luxury” boxes made of precious metals and lined with expensive fabrics like silk.

Revenue at custom coffin maker Coffin It Up, for example, has declined 50% during the past 18 months, says co-owner Dusty Schoening, who runs the company with her husband, Brian, in Pahrump, Nev.

Coffin It Up! That’s brilliant. You gotta love death-related puns.

USA Today, meanwhile, covers the trend for chain restaurants like Ruby Tuesday, P.F. Chang’s, and the Cheesecake Factory to try to attract customers by adding happy hours (or adding more happy hours). This trend, of course, follows a previous trend, in which restaurants like Chili’s and Outback dropped happy hour drink prices. For example, here’s what the Cheesecake Factory is doing:

After 31 years, the chain just began to roll out its first Happy Hour. It’ll be in most locations by March 18. “We’ve all been hit by the economy,” says Mark Mears, marketing chief. “We have to be sensitive to those with less discretionary income.”

The Happy Hour is Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. in the bar area. Some 16 appetizers are available, and specialty cocktails are $5 each. That includes a margarita (normally $8.95) and Hot Spinach and Cheese Dip (normally $10.50).

What, no chocolate cheesecake appetizer?

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