Carrie Rengers

Video a boon for 'Til We Meet Again casket store

Not surprisingly, the 'Til We Meet Again casket store has attracted a lot of attention since it opened at Towne West Square in March.

A YouTube video —"Death Comes to the Mall "— has since given it a lot more attention, especially nationally (see it at http://bit.ly/bmQMpj).

"We're almost to 100,000 (views)," says co-owner Traci Cone . "It's crazy."

It's proving to be a boon to business, too.

Cone was manning the store earlier this year when a man visiting from North Carolina stopped by and started shooting video.

"It happens every day," Cone says of videos and photos.

Sometimes people won't even come into the store to snap pictures or shoot video. Cone says they'll sneak around corners.

The more than six-minute, spur-of-the-moment video the North Carolina man shot shows the store's signature caskets — the KU casket is the most popular attraction — and unusual urns, such as a fishing pole.

"It has been amazing," co-owner Nathan Smith says of reaction to the video. "Business was already good, but honestly that video took it to a whole new level.

"We have sold caskets and urns all across the country because of it."

He also now has interest from at least five people who have serious interest in a franchise.

"We have been inundated about franchising," Smith says.

"We're just not ready," he says. "I don't want to do it fast. I want to do it right."

He and Cone would like to open their second store in Dallas.

Smith says they're still in a learning phase right now, though.

For instance, he's been surprised by some of the store's biggest-selling items, such as cremation jewelry that holds ashes of loved ones.

Also, casket kits that start with a pine box that customers can customize themselves have been a hit.

"That was kind of a shocker," Smith says.

He says the store averages 75 to 100 people on weekdays and as many as 300 on the weekends.

"People would come into the store after that video really started rocking," Smith says.

He says Wichitans usually get the video e-mailed to them from out-of-state friends and relatives and then come by.

"We had a couple who thought it was a hoax."

A few news outlets from around the country have contacted the store as well.

There's also a second video —"Grim Reaper Comes to the Mall "— that's had almost a couple of hundred views (see it at http://bit.ly/dzqUUk).

Cone says she's indebted to the North Carolina visitor, who she says is interested in a Duke casket.

"When he is ready, I will personally bring that out to him myself."

You don't say

"The only good thing on NBAF coming out of Texas is I-35."

Kansas Bioscience Authority president Tom Thornton , speaking at the Wichita Rotary Club Monday, referring to a dismissed Texas lawsuit challenging the federal government's decision to build a National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility here

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