Gravestone Dealer Works Through Supply Chain Delays to Get Families Closure

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Cemetery, Faith, Family, Queens, NY, World News

By Jessica Easthope

The average cost of a wake and funeral is $8,000 and if there’s a burial, it’s higher. Before the pandemic, a traditional monument used to cost $3,400, but now it’s going for twice that.

“There are so many things out of our control that we’ve never experienced before,” said Michael Cassara, owner of Supreme Memorials in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Like most other industries, Michael is struggling to keep up with supply chain delays.

Over the last several months, Michael says material and labor shortages have created a cycle of setbacks. The shortages have caused costs to skyrocket. Some of the granite used to make the stones he sells have gone up 30 percent. And though the business’ volume is also up that much, their profits have stayed the same.

“We’ve never called somebody up and said ‘hey the granite went up thirty percent’, we eat all that,” said Michael. We’re a family business. We’ve been here for 70 years. Me and my brother are the fourth generation so the most important thing is satisfying our families.”

And the time it takes for families to get the closure that comes along with properly laying their loved one to rest has gone up dramatically. From the time it was designed and the order was placed, a stone used to take 12 to 14 weeks before it was in the cemetery on the grave. Michael says now it takes six months.

For a memorial to be set by Christmas, the cut off used to be Oct. 1, but due to delays this year, Michael made it Aug. 1. Many still won’t be in for the holiday.

“Being Catholic, I understand how important it is to go to the cemetery and put down a grave blanket, but it’s crazy,” he said.

Michael has no choice but to be patient and apologize for the delays even though it’s out of his hands – he anticipates delays could last up to another year.