A 'grave' issue at the Galleria

When shoppers at the mall are searching for those perfect skinny jeans, they can also now shop for the perfect final resting place.

Forest Lawn Glendale recently opened a kiosk at the Glendale Galleria where people can get information about funeral plots, urns and make plans for the Great Beyond.

Ben Sussman, vice president of community relations and media management for Forest Lawn, said the kiosk makes perfect sense because it provides a community service.

“We try and go where our customers are and feel comfortable... People might not want to use a cemetery or one of our memorial parks as a weekend destination,” Sussman said Friday at the funeral home’s kiosk located on the first floor of the Galleria.

He said Forest Lawn employees never approach passersby, but let them come to the kiosk on their own.

“This is a casual environment and they can approach us and get the information they need,” Sussman said.

But some mall patrons thought mixing the happy feelings inspired by shopping with death and dying was, well, just not right.

“It’s convenient, but it’s creepy,” said Amita Rahman of Los Angeles. “When you come to the mall with your family to shop, you don’t want to think about people dying or buying plots.”

Brendan Parker, a store manager at Footlocker located across from the Forest Lawn kiosk, had mixed feelings.

“I think it’s an aggressive response to finding a customer base in the mall,” Parker said. “There should be some focus on taking care of whatever you have to do later on in life and have that prepared (for) in advance.”

At Lush Freshmade Cosmetics, sales associate Julie Apelacio of Glendale said the Forest Lawn kiosk was not in its right element.

“Not at the mall. That’s just too personal,” Apelacio said. “I don’t think I would buy my family members, or my own final (arrangements at a mall). It seems a little disrespectful as well. This is somewhere you just shop. It’s a shopping mall. It seems they are trying to make a corporation out of burying the dead.”

Omar Ombra of Los Angeles works at a kiosk selling pearls. He said pre-planning for a funeral might take the pressure off grieving relatives when the inevitable arrives.

“It’s appropriate in a way because all of us will die. So we need to plan because we don’t want to burden our families,” Ombra said.

“It’s another service to the community,” Sussman said. “We’re definitely a part of Glendale; we’ve been here for almost a century ... This is another cultural hub, just like our parks.”

Sussman said Forest Lawn has kiosks in four other malls located in Burbank, Eagle Rock, Claremont and Palm Desert. The Galleria kiosk is open seven days a week during mall hours.


Follow Tim Traeger on Twitter: @TraegerTim.


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