TLP: Hold Out Till They Offer the Buy One, Get One Free Deal
In this economy, you do what you have to do. Whatever the product.
In a marketing move that has drawn some criticism, graveyards across the nation are opening their grounds to concerts and clowns, barbecues and dance performances—anything that might bring happy families through the wrought-iron gates.Of course, this whole effort runs up against the green movement. You know: reduce, reuse, recycle. And especially when there's the question of real estate. Only so much of that available, even if death is a growth business and everyone's a potential customer.
The goal: to nurture warm feelings about the cemetery, in hopes that folks who come to cheer sky-divers today will return in more somber tomorrows.
"It gets them into the cemetery, but not in a scary way, and if they have a nice experience, maybe they'll say, 'I want my family there,' " explains William F. Griswold, Jr., executive superintendent of Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford, Conn., which holds regular scavenger hunts.
A few cemeteries have been doing such outreach for years. Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles draws thousands to summertime films projected on mausoleum walls. Michigan Memorial Park in Flat Rock, Mich., has long invited disabled children to fish at a serene pond amid the headstones.
But the trend seems to be accelerating, industry leaders say. Because more Americans are opting for cremation, demand for burial plots has been slack. To attract more customers, cemetery superintendents say they must lighten up their image.
So Davis Cemetery in Davis, Calif., plans poetry workshops, bird walks and art shows. Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, Neb., hosts a Shakespeare festival and rents its quaint chapel for weddings. In Wheat Ridge, Colo., Olinger Crown Hill Cemetery staged a Memorial Day party with fireworks and sky divers.
And Evergreen Memorial Historic Cemetery in Riverside, Calif., recently hosted its first fair, drawing a crowd of 700 for face painting, live rock and In-N-Out burgers. The audience skewed young, but organizer Stephen Whyld feels certain the fair will boost business in the long run. "A lot of these families have parents and grandparents, right?" he asks.