Old school

P.E.I. entrepreneur wants to put you in a pine box

At 70 years of age, Jim Adams has hit on a unique business idea. The North Winsloe, P.E.I. resident recently launched J.C. Adams Caskets, building caskets made of pine wood. While the old pine box evokes visions of cowboys and the Wild West for some, Adams is hoping his product stirs more than nostalgia in potential customers. “Funeral home caskets are pretty fancy, plush and good looking but are not particularly cheap,” Adams says. “My caskets are good looking. They have nice white interiors and a satin bottom, but they’re certainly not plush. They’re very basic.”

He also notes that they are very well made. But what should really catch the attention of customers is they don’t cost what wooden or metal caskets would if you purchased them from a funeral home. He says he’s selling his pine caskets for $1,000. It takes him five days and $300 worth of material to make one of his pine caskets. Some of the higher end wooden caskets advertised on Canada Casket Outlet, a Toronto-based company that sells caskets, are listed at $2,700 and the metal ones sell for $1,600.

The pine casket is resonating with some customers. At the time he was interviewed in early May, Adams had sold six caskets (he started the business in late April) and he sounds happy with how busy he’s been. “There are a lot of people who like the idea,” Adams says, who makes the caskets in his North Winsloe workshop 10 minutes outside of Charlottetown. “They don’t want anything fancy.”

It might sound crass, but Adams’s idea makes a lot of sense considering where he lives. P.E.I., like Atlantic Canada’s other three provinces, has an aging population that will be in need of caskets in the not-toodistant future. Adams says he puts no finish on his pine caskets so they will be as biodegradable as possible, and he’s already diversifying his business and building pet caskets. “Who knows how that will go?”

But if you want one off his pine boxes, you’ll have to travel to North Winsloe to get it. Adams says he doesn’t provide shipping. “Two people called (for caskets) from outside P.E.I. So far I’m saying no to shipping them. I’m not in position to do that yet.”

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