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a matter of time until funeral homes began moving into the local shopping mall.

Unlike the people at other such stations, who can seem like carnival barkers as they walk right Converse White Dainty

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Forest Lawn has begun staffing outlets at Southern California shopping malls, reasoning that planning for death, either for a loved one or yourself, might not be quite as intimidating for some people if it takes place in a lively, happy place like a mall.

The move, by one of the funeral industry's best known operators, expands on a marketing innovation that appears to have begun at the dawn of the decade when a company called Til We Meet Again began opening casket stores around the country.

"We try to reach our audience where they are at and the mall is a great way to do that," said Ben Sussman, spokesman for Forest Lawn, whose cemeteries count among their permanent residents such notables as Walt Disney, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson.

up to you and hawk discount calling plans or free yogurt samples, Forest Lawn's operators are more discreet. suburb of Arcadia last year, operators were quick to smile and hand out brochures when approached. But they kept their distance until people came to them.

If the mall effort catches on, said Jessica Koth of the National Funeral Directors Association, credit the aging Baby Boom generation at least in part. Historically, people have not wanted to talk, or even think, about their demise.

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At age 86, Slome said, he gets his share of mail from funeral operators inviting him to seminars at local restaurants, where he can have a meal on them while he hears a pitch on why he should use their services when he exits this mortal coil.

"You're in a shopping mall and you're walking along and there's a funeral place?" retired high school teacher Stan Slome said incredulously. "That sounds too deadly."

"When they're going to the mall, people are not going out of need," said Nathan Smith, co founder and CEO of Til We Meet Again, which has outlets in malls in Arizona, Louisiana, Kansas, Indiana and Texas.

"And it's also, perhaps, a way to reach people who might be a little leery about coming directly into one of our parks," Sussman said.

It was the same at a mall in Glendale last week, where people stopped to examine cremation urns ranging from Converse New York

When no one was creeped out, the program expanded to about a half dozen malls. Now Forest Lawn periodically shuffles them from one mall to another to reach the largest audience.

one with a subdued design of leaves to another that brightly featured the logo for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.

Still, not everyone is thrilled with the idea.

But Baby Boomers, the oldest of whom are pushing 70, are different. Many are beginning to press for so called green funerals that don't require the use of coffins or burial vaults, Koth said. Others want custom made coffins or urns that say something about who they were.

But if they're strolling past a funeral outlet at the mall, where they're surrounded by happy, lively people and maybe clutching a bag of Mrs. Field's cookies, the thought is that they'll feel differently.

´╗┐Funeral home sets up kiosks in SoCal malls

So if they do happen to see a place peddling coffins or urns while they're pricing T shirts and hoodies, Smith said, it will look far less intimidating.

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Over the past two years, Forest Lawn has been quietly putting movable kiosks in several of the malls that dot Southern California's suburbs.

As to why folks would be leery about that, industry officials acknowledge the answer is obvious: Who really wants to enter a Converse All Star White Low Top funeral home even one day before they have to?

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Also on display was a recruiting poster for potential future Forest Lawn employees, complete with a picture of the great Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, who urged them to consider "joining a winning team."

"Funeral planning is something everybody knows they must do, but at the same time it's something nobody wants to do," said Robert Fells, executive director of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association.

"Nobody gets up on a Saturday morning and says, 'Gee, it's a nice day. I wonder if I can go out and get myself a burial plot,'" Fells said.

After thinking it over, however, he acknowledged it's something that could catch on.

Forest Lawn's effort began modestly, with just one kiosk in a mall in the Los Angeles suburb of Eagle Rock.

LOS ANGELES We eat there, buy our clothes there and some people suspect teenagers may actually live there. So perhaps it was just Converse Chuck Taylor Black Monochrome Hi Top

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He doesn't care for that either, he said, but he figures somebody is attending those seminars.

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