It is not a funeral parlor, and there are no cadavers for miles, which makes the concept all the more novel -- shopping for a casket the way one might shop for a telephone. Third-party casket sales became feasible after a 1994 Federal Trade Commission ruling ended the practice of funeral homes' charging "handling fees" on caskets bought elsewhere. With a casket being the single most expensive item in a funeral, Direct Casket's ads urge consumers to "call us first." If they do, says manager Don Sills, they may save up to 70 percent off the price of a funeral-home casket. The showroom features sturdy American-made models such as the steel "Triumph," popular with veterans. At $1,499, it comes with a folded-American-flag display on the inside of the lid. Ask nicely, and they may let you get in for a test drive. But there's more: headstones, vaults, urns, guest books and even funeral jewelry -- pendants that hold a dash of the loved one's ashes. The sales pitch is low-key, and customers get a free angel pin just for dropping by. "Some come in just to get an idea of what things cost," says Sills, "while others walk in and Mom's just died and they need a casket delivered tomorrow." There is no layaway plan. Buyers take immediate delivery to the funeral home, hospice or residence, and Direct Casket delivers up to 50 miles free. Take the savings and buy a magnum of Dom Perignon to toast dear old Uncle Moose.