There are two types of survivalist [“Schumer Hits the Fan”] (SHTF) shopping. Pre-SHTF, and Imminent-SHTF. Let’s look at both of them .
These are things you buy now while there is no immediate threat and no mobs of desperate people trying to get the same thing. People who know you think you are eccentric but mostly harmless. The readers of this site already know what kinds of items to store in advance (food, guns, ammunition, etc.) and so it will not be repeated here. Conceptually, these items should have long term storability, and in terms of food be used in a rotating manner so that they are used before they reach the end of their shelf lives. IMHO, a good way to get a resistant female significant other to get on board is to tell her to pick out a case of her favorite chocolate bars and tampons/pads for your pre-SHTF stash.
If you haven’t done your Pre-SHTF shopping, shame on you. The best you can hope for is to get there first. Put on a rucksack and while everyone else is in shock, you call your group/wife/friends and get to the COSTCO or wherever. You will be competing with others for items.
If you have already done your Pre-SHTF shopping, then items that you by during an imminent SHTF could include:
1- More of what you already have
2- Items that you don’t store in large amounts because they have shorter expiration dates such as fats, oils, meats, batteries and fuel. [JWR Adds: Don’t forget chemical light sticks.]
3- Items that you haven’t already bought because they are expensive and need the money more than the item during normal times (i.e. more/better guns)
4- Items that you haven’t bought already because in addition to their price and expiration dates, you cannot use them under normal circumstances, such as antibiotics.
5- Items that require maintenance that you don’t want to deal with pre-SHTF (i.e. guard dog, male and female rabbits and chicks (for raising meat) and the food and housing that they will require.
Here is where your preparation pays off. You zig while everyone else zags. You don’t want to be in a throng of hungry and frightened people scrabbling for what’s left on the [supermarket] shelves. Since you already have done your Pre-SHTF shopping, you are in no immediate need of anything. Instead, think of what else you might want to get and buy it while others are ransacking the shelves of the local grocery store for canned tuna, rice, bottled water and D-cell batteries. You’ve got your shopping list and you call your team and assign items to purchase.
Consider the nature of the SHTF. Stay away from the crowds. If a violent riot is a mile away, don’t go to the gun store to get another shotgun. Everyone else is going there. You already have your guns and ammo right? Go to the hardware store and get razor wire (or barbed wire), 2×4’s, nails, fire extinguishers and smoke inhalation masks/hoods. If the banks are shutting down, don’t go and wait on line there. Instead, go to the ATMs and local check cashing place. Think out of the box or get buried in one.
You want to be ahead of the learning curve of the masses. You can be by virtue of three things.
1 – You’ve already taken care of the necessities so you can avoid the crowds.
2 – You aren’t going into shock since you already saw this coming.
3 – You don’t have to think about what you’re going to need. You’ve already thought about it, made your list, and know exactly where to get it.
Special note: Depending on the nature of the SHTF, you may need to pay with cash. If the grid is going to go down, don’t expect stores to take your word for it that your checks and credit cards are good, and it’s too early to pay with gold or silver unless the shop owner is present and it’s a mom and pop store. As such, if you don’t have a chunk of cash buried in the yard, the very first thing you (or a member of your team/family) may need to do is to go to the bank and ATMs and get some cash out while you can.
FWIW, here’s my current personal Imminent SHTF Shopping List.
Rent a 20′ moving truck
I want more than I can carry in my car.
Withdraw cash at banks and ATMs and empty the safe deposit box of any valuables before the banks close down.
Food and Water
Fats and Oils
Meats and proteins
*You should carry prescriptions for any drugs you may want to get in your wallet at all times. Do you want to have to go home and look through your files when the balloon goes up and time is of the essence?
More ammunition – can you ever have enough?
Rifles and shotguns – see above.
Baby chicks and baby rabbits, both sexes.
Their food, water and housing needs
Have this thought out ahead of time. Have copies or your list, delegate tasks to those in your circle and move fast while everyone else is glued to the television set waiting for the government to tell them what to do. – SF in Hawaii
JWR Adds: Deciding whether or not to venture away from your home or retreat when disruption looks imminent should not be a taken lightly. Risks will likely outweigh the benefits if it means “fighting the crowds” at the stores. (Literally.) Nor do you want riffraff seeing your vehicle heaped with new purchases and then following you home. Ditto for nosey neighbors.
In my writings, I have always stressed that we should “Be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.” I consider that the litmus test for determining the right course of action in any disaster. By logical extension, that mindset pushes us in the direction of dispensing charity and assisting civil authorities in restoring law and order. By stocking up well in advance you will be one less person that rushes to the supermarket just after the SHTF.