Funeral home to sell Starbucks

Posted at 10:11 AM, Jul 12, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-12 10:11:13-04

(CNN) – Chris Robinson’s family is used to being a bit ahead of the curve.

After selling caskets at a general store in Easley, S.C., an ancestor opened a funeral location in a separate building. Most other parlors in town operated in homes converted for the purpose.

“People thought he had overbuilt at the time,” said Robinson, general manager and vice president of Robinson Funeral Home. “He was very forward thinking because we utilized that building for years.”

Robinson Funeral Home is undergoing its fourth addition and will feature a first for Easley — Starbucks coffee. 

A new lobby will lead to an area where baristas hired by Robinson will discreetly serve Frappuccinos to mourners and the public alike.

Robinson told CNN Wednesday the family, which operates two other funeral homes in the area, is getting positive feedback from the community.

“When people have visitations, people come out and support families,” he said. “This is another way to do that.”

Coffee has long been part of the family business.

The general store, now selling clothing, featured a potbelly stove where townspeople would drink coffee and “solve the world’s problems,” Robinson said.

The Coffee Corner, he said, will be a respectful distance from the chapel.

“If this provides them a little escape and gives them a break from the stress they are going through, that’s what it’s all about, to make them feel better,” Robinson told CNN Greenville-Spartanburg affiliate WSPA.

Starbucks is providing training and equipment for the endeavor, which Robinson expects to open in August.

There will be no Starbucks signage outside the funeral home, he said.

The company recognizes demand in the neighborhood and is supportive because the brand will be presented in an appropriate manner, Starbucks spokesperson Alisa Martinez said.

The public will be able to access the coffee area from a patio. Inside they will find tables, a fireplace, television, cash register and wi-fi.

The funeral home will continue offering its own coffee for those not interested in the Starbucks brand.

Besides meeting the needs of people who have lost loved ones, the coffee shop can serve another purpose, according to Robinson.

“It will help people who are intimidated at stepping foot in a funeral home. They may not feel out of sorts,” he said.

Copyright CNN 2012