‘Til We Meet again obtains license to sell Vatican caskets, urns, grave markers and memorial products

WICHITA — If a business person would like to do business with the Vatican, is it as easy as calling up and asking?

Almost. At least that’s how it seemed to go for Nathan Smith and Traci Smith-Cone of ’Til We Meet Again, the casket store at Towne West Square that’s turning into a national chain.

The day after Thanksgiving, Smith says he and Smith-Cone signed a deal with the Vatican for Vatican-licensed merchandise.

“We are the only source for retail for all Vatican caskets, urns and memorial products throughout the United States,” Smith says. “It’s been something we’ve been working on for quite some time.”

Another company used to have the exclusive license, he says.

“That company that was doing that fell on some hard times and bad management and are no longer in existence,” Smith says.

When he heard that, he says he called the Vatican to inquire about the license.

“Through a lot of negotiations and talks, we thought it brought a lot of value to have that license from the Vatican,” Smith says. “It’s going to be a pretty big license for us.”

The company is in the process of working with the Vatican and several manufacturers on developing lines for caskets, urns, grave markers, jewelry and keepsakes.

Smith says his company will pay the Vatican a percentage down and then royalties off of every sale.

Currently, ’Til We Meet Again is expanding into Texas and Arizona, where Smith says many Catholics reside.

“We think that’s going to be a very strong market for those products.”

He says Dan Carney, who has been advising him and Smith-Cone on franchising, is opening a store in Phoenix with a partner on Dec. 10. Smith says Carney plans three Arizona stores.

The company already is licensed to sell most Division 1 schools. Smith says he’s working on the NFL, NASCAR, Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL.

“It’s going to be a long process,” he says.

In most cases, he has to negotiate with the league, and each individual team has to approve it.

“It’s just a matter of expense and time, being able to get those.”

Smith says it’s worth it.

“The more licenses we can achieve, the more things we can do for the passion of (a customer) and what they like and how they live life.”