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What are your Top 5 prep items you would like in a retail store?

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by AllTrades, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. AllTrades

    AllTrades Monkey

    Where I live there are absolutely no retail sites dedicated to natural/man made disaster preparedness. I am throwing around the idea of opening a retail site totally dedicated to survival and preparedness. Besides firearms, what are your top 5 items you would like to see in a retail site? I'm doing this because I think it is extremely important for my whole community to be prepared in case of a disaster. I don't want to be the one that people start coming to for a handout in the first week and then robbing me in the second week. Thanks for your input, I'm just in the idea stage right now.
    Motomom34, kellory and UncleMorgan like this.
  2. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.

    Silver barter option.
    Water filters
    DIY "free" information.
  3. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I eat vegetables. My friends are not vegetables.

    Food, food, and food.

    Also food & food.

    Set up a line of LTS foods and you cannot fail to prosper.

    I was at a typical small-town auction (a while back) where about sixty one-gallon cans of LTS survival food went up for sale.

    They were about 15 years old, and had come out of an estate.

    I took careful notes and figured out exactly how much I was willing to bid.

    I didn't get a single can.

    One family bought it all. And they bid it up to about 50% higher than the present-day retail to get it.

    It was like blood in the water. Several people that got out-bid were severely unhappy. As in I'll-Pound-You-In-The-Parking-Lot unhappy.

    You'd have thought they were trying to buy silver or something.

    (Just sayin'... Food.)
  4. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.

    without is...SHTF every day.
    Tully Mars, techsar, VisuTrac and 3 others like this.
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Assuming you mean a brick and mortar shop, you will need to think bars on the windows and doors. Might also consider a room with cot, reefer and microwave in case things get testy on the street and you need to be on site for security of the store. After you've been in business for a while, the baddies will know your inventory, so they will know a good place to raid.
    Tully Mars and UncleMorgan like this.
  6. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    We had a local shop set up last fall with a similar business plan to cater towards preparedness/survival.
    They started with a little of everything but was thin on a lot of options....start-ups are tough with minimal cash reserves. It is not enticing to go to a store that does not have much of anything and hinders returning shoppers due to that lack of product.
    They had minimal firearms, mostly AR's and 8 or so handgun types and a small supply of ammo. Where they did better was on the gear, bag's & body armor type of equipment. Their food supplies (mostly Mountain House) was thin and not a lot of variety/quantity.

    If I was going to set up this kind of shop, I would focus heavily on the basics such as camping gear, water purification, long term food, tactical gear, shelter supplies (tents...what have you), survival tools with multiple uses, as MG said- seeds packs, and finally I would create a great survival library for those that want to educate themselves (the most important thing one can do for survival... knowledge is priceless).

    Another idea for the business, create workshop events on the weekend to teach folks various task.... which will get them in your door, and help them discover what you can supply them.
    Tully Mars, UncleMorgan and kellory like this.
  7. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    Alternative energy/off-grid supplies.
    Food preservation supplies
    Homesteading and wilderness survival books.
    Freeze-dried meats
    Gardening supplies(not just heirloom/nonGMO seeds, plants, and pots, but hydroponics, aquaponics, and sprouting supplies as well)
    UncleMorgan likes this.
  8. TheJackBull

    TheJackBull Monkey+

    top five? well that's highly dependent on geography. there are basic must haves for survival and the rest is cherries on top.
    just remember that a lot of the big ticket items in a store like this are a one time buy. once you have one its done. now some people will want redundancies but lets be honest, if you want 10 tents and 20 sleeping bags you hit the thrift stores and yard sales... but your primary goods must be quality, so start with quality goods. but you need to stock items that will encourage repeat business like, apparel, footwear, ammo, ammo, ammo, and seasonal recreation hobby supplies. maybe a little hardware for those prepper projects would serve you good. in spring/summer teach a class on how to build a small hydroponic garden and sell a kit you put together. teach the people. i never paid for something i didnt know how to use...

    anyway, a little off topic but thats what came to mind....

    best of luck keep us posted.
    UncleMorgan likes this.
  9. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    This subject is huge. You can not stock everything, unless you have very deep pockets. Start with the basics, water filters systems, shelter/tents and camping gear, things they would need for the most likely problems, like power, water, flood, tornados, the ability to cook, propane, ammo and basic tools. They will all have their own choices of lead throwers, so that is another whole store.
    Think about what YOU would need, if disaster struck and YOU were not prepared. Food, water, shelter, and the means of holding on to what you have left.
    Tully Mars and UncleMorgan like this.
  10. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    Brick and mortar businesses are much tougher now with the advent of internet shopping. Folks come in, look and touch, compare prices with Amazon and other on-line retailers who have far less overhead and when their prices are lower and then often order on-line. It is brutal to brick and mortars. It is also difficult to offer the full range of options and choices that people have on-line. You'll need to differentiate in a big way to earn the loyalty and retain people's business while keeping your prices up so that your margins are enough to remain in business.

    I can think of two ways you might explore for how to differentiate:
    1. Take a lead from scuba businesses. A common business model in that industry (and often many other recreation/adventure businesses) is a three prong approach:
    A. Equipment sales and service
    B. Training
    C. Trips and events

    Interestingly these three business dimensions feed the others with an interaction that is good for the bottom line. If you can get a person in the door for one thing, you can often sell the other two over time. A person has an interest in scuba and comes in for a class. Often classes are reasonable priced and mostly benefit the instructor but the shop makes money in that there is some basic equipment like mask, fins and snorkel that is required. They finish the course and then taking a trip or going to some dive function becomes of interest. When people plan a trip to the Caribbean they'll come in looking for what ever new stuff they want to have to get the most from the trip or maybe take another course to improve their diving or specific skills like underwater photography.

    So, training sells trips and equipment. Trips/events sell equipment and training. Equipment sells training and trips. To differentiate from Amazon, you need to offer what they can't. You may not have the options for trips but various events could be helpful. You might also be able to cultivate some customer loyalty with those who understand that while your prices may be higher, you would be doing them no favor cutting prices and then going out of business because you just didn't clear enough to remain. But to sell that, there has to be more reason's for them to see you stick around then just stuff for sale.

    2. Another dimension on which you might be able to differentiate is anonymity for purchases. Advertise that purchase records are not kept, you take cash or barter, etc. You don't want the soccer mom that heard about Ted Koppel's book and wants some supplies to fear being confused with a Doomsday Prepper but also want to convey to the Doomsday crowd there is advantage to buying from you vs. on-line.

    Regardless, your business model needs to be based upon sales for preparation, not supplies available after the bad event; you'll never make it as the bad events are too infrequent and your inventory will be old.

    Good luck.
  11. Legion489

    Legion489 Shining the Light of Truth

    Food, ammo, camping gear, knowledge.

    With out food you are going no where. An army marches on it's stomach. MREs, freeze dried, grains, etc.

    With out ammo you are not keeping that food. EVERYONE has a gun right now! MAYBE a few of the most popular makes/models and pocket pistols. Good quality but not expensive pistols and test fire them before putting them out. NOTHING pisses off someone more than buying a gun and finding out it doesn't work! ESPECIALLY if they think they need it and find out it doesn't work! You need a license to sell guns, you don't for ammo! See if a FFL holder will go in with you or offers "mail order sales" sent to their shop for pick up.

    With out gear (sleeping bags, backpacks, various heaters, mess kits, etc.) you are not going to last long. Three levels, Boy Scout weekenders, better quality weekender and pro level for people who know what they want because they USE it. Offer to order stuff as tents and some other equipment is both large/bulky and expensive.

    Have some of the better survivalist, camping, outdoor books available, like OUTDOORS, BACKPACKER. Offer classes or weekenders.

    I got a sub to SURVIVALIST, AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE and (sorry, edit) PREPARE (not "prepper") MAG to see what they were like instead of reading them off the shelf. Prepare was a free on-line mag with an "expanded" print version.

    SURVIVALIST (I got a sub from issue one) is excellent to OK. Issues vary (the first five were VERY bad!) but they all offer SOME level of knowledge and help (OK, except the Amish "theme" issue, that was trash! They dropped the "theme issues" at least for now). They get good writers and then seem to drop the writers, then go back to the knowledgeable writers, so who knows what is going on there, I sure don't!

    AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE - After a year (out of the very expensive two year sub. I was sure I was missing SOMETHING because it was still being sold. Turns out I wasn't.) of ASG, and reading it off the racks for years, I still have no idea who buys this and why! EVERY issue has been worthless trash, and in some cases dangerous trash in my opinion.

    PREPARE (not "prepper") MAG - the free on-line issues are actually pretty good and I recommend them. I got a sub to see what the print issues were like and the first two issues (so far) did NOT impress me at all.

    Other mags I get and recommend:

    COUNTRYSIDE AND SMALL STOCK - the family that owned it sold out (too many issues on the racks and they got shafted), still worth reading but is now "different" than it was.

    BACK WOODS HOME - Duffy is a commie, which he admits every so often, but the writers are Libertarian and great.

    BACKWOODSMAN - If you over look Richie's "Big Foot" articles/hunting crap it is well worth reading.

    FIELD AND STREAM/OUTDOOR LIFE (same company). I like F&S better.

    AVOID ANY HARRIS PUBL! Modern Frontiersman, Modern Homesteader, New Frontiersman, New Homesteader, SPECIAL WEAPONS, etc., etc. I read this stuff off the rack and it is uniformly TRASH and sucker bait (they put out ASG of course)! Sometimes I buy an issue if it has an article I want to read, but that is rare, few and far between! Usually when I see HARRIS PUBL I just put it down with out reading.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2016
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  12. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I eat vegetables. My friends are not vegetables.

    Some very good advice in the messages above.

    I think it would be a major mistake to do only a brick & mortar store. You should have a full Internet presence, too.

    And you might consider doing the gun show circuits near you and selling direct. People go to gun shows to buy what they think they need. If you have that, you're golden.
    Yard Dart and Tully Mars like this.
  13. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    IMO a survival store is much like a camping supply store just with a slightly different focus. Instead of carrying clothes, your store could carry solar radios, walking talkies, larger water filtration units then just life straws.
    Not just free information but a small section of the must read survival books. You could have a few fiction books like One Second After & Lights Out, Alas Babylon but also have military manuals and survival how-to books. I would also hold a few classes- allow first aid classes to be held at your place or hunters safety, outdoor skills, or home skills etc... all these will get people in and the classes will educate plus bring in purchases.

    UM is correct. Allow people to buy from you off the internet. Preppers/survivalists are suspicious and non-trusting so many would not come into your store but they probably have PO boxes and would order off a web site.
    Yard Dart and UncleMorgan like this.
  14. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey Site Supporter+

    All the above are great ideas. To that I'd add canning supplies(didn't see it mentioned). Have the county exchange do a canning class in your store one weekend;)
  15. T. Riley

    T. Riley Monkey+++ Site Supporter++

    I and two like minded friends are opening a "pantry" March 1. Nothing but #10 cans of Augason Farms basics, with a minimal markup. All income used to offset cost of inventory until we recoup our investment. We plan to run it until (hopefully a few days before) the SHTF then move the inventory to our BOL. It will be inside another retail shop currently owned and operated by one of us. I would love to sell LDS but not sure they would allow it. If we shut it down, we eat the inventory one day. No sales tax on food in Texas so we don't have to deal with the government.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2016
  16. whynot

    whynot Monkey++

    Just watched a "survival" store go out of business here in Boise, Idaho.

    Good location; two stores down from a Mormon books store. Much the same inventory as described above. Food, water purification, fire, first aid, packs, Am/fm radios and goal zero. Offered classes/seminars for free/ low cost. Owner was a nice guy, pricing was okay but not great. I might have spent $100 over the 3-4 months he was there.

    What did him in? My best guess is the internet, limited stock choices and low capital. It's hard to compete with Amazon. I could almost always save 10% between state sales tax and his mark up. I'm willing to pay to touch and feel before I buy. Many people are not. In the beginning he had a low end and a high end choice on most items. At the end it was down to the cheap stuff only. As an example, I wandered in looking for a Mora knife, not anything exotic. His choices were a Chinese POS folding knife I wouldn't give to a cub scout or a $250 semi custom fixed blade he had in the case. No sale that day.

    If it was my money on the line, I would skip opening a store and go online only. I would focus on mid range gear and kit type setups to keep things affordable. For example a fire starting kit with a good match safe, a flint and steel, a Fresnel lens and some trioxine tablets. Throw in a Xerox page on fire making 101 instructions and a note to buy a bic lighter at the store and call fire done.

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  17. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I eat vegetables. My friends are not vegetables.

    The Force is strong here.
  18. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    Starting with an online presence for purchases may be the best option. I have seen many businesses start in that manner out of their garage while they still had their regular 9 to 5 job. Once they had the volume, the expansion went to brick and mortar style local business.
    Tully Mars likes this.
  19. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    There is a survival store in the Denver Metro area. The owner is a nice guy and and I have bought from him a few times but stopped because it was filthy. Clean and organized is huge. Plus this guy also does a guest spot on local radio and gives prepping advice.
  20. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    I'd go with @whynot 's model.

    A low investment, low overhead, no rent, no insurance and a well stocked inventory adds to your own preps. Start with items that sell well and quickly; if successful expand.
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