Letter Re: Barter, Post-TEOTWAWKI: The Micro Store

Dear Mr Rawles,
I’ve been reading your archives. I loved the December, 2011 SurvivalBlog article titled Barter, Post-TEOTWAWKI: The Micro Store. This one is a natural for me.  One way that I have been collecting barterable items is at yard/garage/estate sales.  Estate sales in particular are excellent for the micro store collection.  You hit the kitchen area and get current food items for your own stores and then the bathroom for bandages and sample size items such as soap, shampoo, shaving gel, toothpaste and so forth.  I’m not talking about items used but items never opened; I have even found various supplements also never opened.  I told my sister the nurse that if TSHTF I have a small hospital for her.  Leg brace boots are also really very cheap and can come in very handy.  

One item I have seen a ton of is sewing supply; I am partial to those heavy duty needle packs that are bound to come in handy for patching up heavier gear, am looking for upholstery thread that would go well with those kits, or dental floss can used if needed.  As far as cigarettes, I can get those at half the cost from Indian tribe stores, I have placed individual packs in Seal-a-Meal bags and vacuum packed them and placed them in the freezer, also did that with cigars I picked up at a yard sale.  I don’t smoke but know that if a smoker is desperate enough, anything will do 

Another item that I think is very handy are those small pouches of seasonings, they have become quite expensive at a grocery store, up to $1.89 each. At estate and garage sales I pay a quarter or less for them. If you have potatoes, pasta or rice, one packet of flavoring will go a long way.  I do plan to get some of those little bottles of liquor that are sold on air flights, those are an excellent idea.  Going on to the garage area is great for fishing gear and tools.  I have come home with prepper items along with a few collectibles to sell on eBay.  The profit from what I sell on eBay covers the cost of my prepper item purchases. 

I was curious however, about my plan to move from Washington to Idaho. When I do find a small town to live in, wouldn’t those people already be prepper-minded thus making a micro store a moot point?  Just wondering.  My husband said we could just set up shop to an area that was not prepper-minded and sell/barter there.

Keep up this wonderful work and call me, – Prepper on the cheap.
JWR Replies: Don’t worry about the lack of a barter market in a region with more predominant preparedness and self-sufficiency. Even there, you will find plenty of people that are not well prepared, or those who have overlooked some items that they will need. The sure bets will be expendable items like soap, tape, detergent, lubricants (especially two-stroke fuel-mixing oil), common caliber ammunition, salt, seeds, various liquid fuels, adhesives, batteries, flat earth tone camouflaging paints, and so forth.