The Grim Shopper- Bluelips Celebrates 13 Years as a Business Who Has No Life

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A cancer patient has turned her dance with death into an profitable online business that pokes fun at the grim reaper and celebrates being incurably alive.

If your lips aren't RED, you must be DEAD

In 1999, while faced with a grim diagnosis of breast cancer, Toni R began to receive phone calls from pre-need counselors at local funeral homes in her area. Hippa laws did not exist as they do now, so it came as quite a surprise to her when their approach was "we're sorry to hear about your illness, but have you thought about your death?" She couldn't figure out how they knew she was sick, and why they were trying to sell her funeral services. She was alive, she thought they'd made a mistake and had the wrong person. And then she went to her doctor...

"It absolutely devastated me to find out that they knew my situation better than I did, I felt incredibly violated," she said. But instead of getting mad, instead of suing the hospital and instead of letting the invasion get her down she decided to fight back. Toni, a longtime fan of the late Jessica Mitford, who wrote "The American Way of Death" exposing the questionable practices of some funeral directors, decided it was time to stand up and fight, her way.

"I was having chemo one day and I hallucinated a skull with blue lips," she said. "Then it came to me that a great domain for the business would be"

Being socially responsible was important to Toni, so she decided early on that no matter what Bluelips would donate 25% of each sale to breast cancer research. Her own battle with metastatic breast cancer was the inspiration behind her desire to help others.

"In my wildest dreams I didn't know if there would be a market for a business whose slogan is 'one stop shopping for morbid minds' and 'if your lips aren't red, you must be dead,' but we found out that because of shows like 'Six Feet Under,' our niche could thrive and it has," she says.

One of the very first products to be put out by Bluelips was the tongue and cheek "Do It Yourself Embalming Kit". "We came up with that idea for two reasons. One was that I found that people are curious about embalming, and it also is a great "over the hill" gift for someone who has a great sense of humor." Each kit contains actual tools used in the embalming process, eye caps, needle injector pins, toe tags just to mention a few.

Bluelips has other delightful offerings, which include an anatomically correct chocolate heart, brain or molar, skull and reaper themed T shirts, a wide variety of Day of The Dead collectibles, grim reading and dvds. They also offer the World's Largest Gummy Heart in a meat tray, real looking blood in a test tube, candy pee in a specimen cup, a nice selection of diecast hearses and even replica, life sized femur bones. Not to mention their huge selection of skull, gargoyle, grim reaper, egyptian and other fine collectible statuary. Jessica Mitford collectibles and wide selection of hot sauces, and even Alfred Packer's Cannibal Spicy Ketchup are just some of the many goodies for your year round pleasure.

You can visit Bluelips at

In addition to their website, the staff of Bluelips are active members of the Funeral Consumers Alliance and they are pro consumer activists who help consumers in times of grief to make cost effective choices that are both fiscally and environmentally responsible.


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Elle Panatella
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