merchandise has to do with funerals, it must be kept out of public sight, according
to a new regulation.|
If you see a shop with no sign
on the entrance, the showcase covered with blinds or jalousie and confused salesmen
outside, you're probably on Nar-Dos Street in Yerevan, in front of a store that
Nar-Dos Street, known locally as "Coffins Street" for
its numerous funeral accessories shops, became the first target of anti-coffins'
action initiated by the Yerevan City Council last week.
According to a
new proclamation, coffins, funeral wreaths and any such paraphernalia concerning
burial must be kept inside the business that sells the wares.
should be no sign on the entrance of the shops nor posted anywhere nearby saying
anything (such as "Coffins for Sale") about the merchandise inside.
The doors of the shops must remain closed, with curtains blocking view inside.
members say they were urged to initiate the prohibition to prevent Yerevantsis
from experiencing stress and discomfort and an impending sense of doom while walking
along the street.
It's only been a few days since the regulation took effect,
but owners of the shops say the new reform has already affected their business.
M. Ghazaryan, owner of one of the shops, who successfully was running his business
last week, is at a loss today.
"A week ago it was possible to sell
several coffins a week," says Ghazaryan, who also owns a workshop that makes
coffins. "Last week I sold not a one. People who come to Nar-Dos street to
buy a coffin pass by my shop, as they don't know what is behind the closed curtains.
And I can do nothing."
Early this week police officers on patrol noticed
that the door on Ghazaryan's shop was half-opened and coffins were seen from the
street. Ghazaryan was told to close the door and warned that the next time he
would face sanctions.
"Last week they (police) took down an advertisement
on the entrance of the shop, for which I paid $200. This week they said if the
coffins are seen from the street they would confiscate the coffins," the
Ghazaryan, who lived in the United States for 12 years, agrees
that all funeral accessories should be concentrated in one place. He says it's
that way in California, where his parents run a similar business.
does not accept that such drastic changes should be imposed in one day.
I established the business in Armenia, I acquired all the necessary certificates
and no one told me that the conditions must be changed," he says. "Some
businessmen in Armenia hide their income. I pay all the taxes and it turned that
I have nothing to hide, but the goods."
One of Ghazaryan's workmen,
78-year old Stepan Karapetyan shares the owner's concerns, realizing that his
salary is directly connected to the number of coffins sold.
said if things get worse, he would return to the US. I will lose my income and
will have to survive only on my pension of 5,000 drams (about $9)."
has been a coffin maker for 40 years. He says he remembers that every time a new
mayor has been appointed, he has vowed to sweep the merchandise of death from
"Instead of cleaning Yerevan's streets from
the garbage, they want to clean the street from the coffins," Karapetyan
In all there are eight shops selling funeral accessories on Nar-Dos
Street and several shops for funeral flowers, which opened on the street about
10 years ago.
Kazaryan's shop used to have a sign advertising coffins. Now no one can find him
There hardly appears a reason to call
it "Coffin" Street now. "Parquet" Street might be a better
name, or "Spare Part" Street, as those two businesses now dominate the
The coffin dealers on Nar-Dos street say they worry that under
the new conditions they will not survive the competition of some 100 craftsmen
who make and sell coffins from their homes.
Others say that the reason for
the new reform is clan economy in Armenia.
"The sugar, oil, corn cigarettes
- everything is owned by oligarchs. Now they want to control coffins production
too," says one of the coffin shop owners.
The coffins merchants do
not believe that the reform is aimed at making people's lives happier --as the
rest of the similar shops in Yerevan continue their business with funeral flowers
seen through the window.
Officials from the Trade Department of the City
Council say that there were several attempts to abandon the advertisement and
display of funeral accessories.
They say that this time the new reform
will touch all the shops throughout the city and hope that the end result will
be that all funeral-associated items will be in the centralized undertaker's offices
Yerevantsis opinions are different toward the coffin issue.
admit that it is better when there are no coffins along the roads, especially
because the grievous goods distract attention of drivers.
Others say that
knowing where to go for the delicate service is convenient, because the preparations
for funeral lasts only a day or two in Armenia and people do not have much time
to go through the closed shops and guess where the coffins are sold.
the opinions are the coffins reform impacted the life of over two hundred people
whose livelihood is connected to dying.
The coffin makers from Nar-Dos Street
say they are going to apply to the City Council and ask either to let them place
signs, or let them display the goods through the store windows.