Note from JWR:

I recently spent an afternoon with The Memsahib at a COSTCO store. For our overseas readers: COSTCO is an American membership “warehouse” type grocery store chain that sells everything from canned hams to home computers. By the way, COSTCO is not to be confused with the Chinese shipping company, COSCO, although surely some COSCO goods end up in COSTCO stores. Just not to the same extent that they do at Wal-Mart. (Or, as my brother calls it: “Great Wal-of-China-Mart.”) We were at COSTCO primarily to stock up the Rawles Ranch on paper products, soap and cleaning supplies, and some staple foods. The trip was reminiscent of the COSTCO tour that I took last summer with publisher Jake Stafford, when we were developing the “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course. The premise of the course is that more that 80% of what a family needs to stock up for emergencies can be purchased in a single shopping trip to a “big box” store such as COSTCO. The preparedness course stresses the shelf lives of various products–so that you don’t buy too much of anything and hence not be able to systematically use it before it reaches the end of its shelf life.

Needless to say, a massive purchase (or a series of purchases) is not something that I would recommend doing during a crisis. Do it now, in normal times. That way you will have a full selection of products, and you won’t “hoarding”, since the supply chain is still humming along nicely. Everything that you buy today will be efficiently re-stocked. So in effect, by buying your year’s supply now, you’ll be one less person that rushes to the store at the 11th hour. Hence, instead of being part of the problem, you’ll be contributing to the solution. Also, be sure to buy plenty of extra food to have available for charity. Again, that will make you part of the solution.