Investing in Businesses and Schools as Well as Preps?, by Captswife

I have been disturbed lately to hear about profitable, mom-and-pop businesses closing because there is no one willing to buy them. The circumstances that bother me the most have been businesses that served preppers and others who wish to be part of maintaining important, traditional skills, such as gun manufacturing and quilting.

I have done my share of prepping and know others who do and have, and I have seen thousands upon thousands of dollars spent on items that likely will never be used because they are supplies for a nationwide, grid-down scenario. Most emergencies — and I have been through a major one myself — are household or family financial, and relatively short-term. In my personal experience and that of others i know, these can be managed with a few well-chosen prepping resources and sufficient cash to cover deductibles or short-to-intermediate term job loss.

But what if committed peppers were to spend a larger portion of the dollars “invested” in material goods on starting private schools, or buying profitable local businesses from retirees? What would the benefits be to you, your family and your community? It’s not the typical approach to prepping, but have you done the math? How much have you spent in the last few years on preps? Hundreds? Thousands? How much have you used? And what is happening with what you purchased 5 or 10 years ago?  How much have you had to destroy because it is no longer fit to use? In fact, when the last time you inventoried your preps?

I am not saying “don’t prep.” I’m saying, think longer term, and outside your own personal warehousing. For example, private schools using the Charlotte Mason methods and philosophies — which are, in my view, the most prepper friendly of all those currently available — are growing rapidly in number around the U.S. and globally. (You can learn more at Organizations such as Ambleside International have an established program for helping start a school. You need some cash and a couple other households to get started, but education is always a concern with those of us in the prepper community. However, you can see how the time and money spent to establish a private school that can run in all conditions creates a long term answer to this need.

So, too, looking for a business for sale that continues an important product or service (or both, in the case of a quilt shop). Consider whether you may have the skills to run it well yourself. What does it take? Well, a few thousand dollars, and knowledge. (The family at one of JWR’s favorite blogs, Paratus Familia, has done this with their successful butcher shop.) But preppers have always been hard workers, so, what’s the big deal? And, again, like the school, you are building something with some staying power that is a benefit to yourself and others in an emergency situation, and establishes you as a vital member of your community.

Here’s a demographic fact: old Boomers fell for the “zero population growth” rhetoric promoted by the mainstream media and churches in the 1960s and 1970s. This means there are not enough Gen Xers to fill the shoes left by retiring and dying Boomers. And, as we all know, Millennials, thanks to their debt loads and a lagging economy early in their adult lives, are behind the typical timeline for home ownership, let alone business ownership. This leaves empty storefronts, and areas lacking in services and products.

So if you are reading this, and have squirreled away a bunch of cash (or were planning to buy a $10,000 generator for  “just in case”), then why not consider putting some of it to another good use. Keep what you need for the most common emergencies, then get to work on building something that — no matter what happens — has created a strong, prepper-friendly addition to your personal lives, to the next generation and to your community.


  1. Good thoughts here. My 1st reaction is wondering how fast the market changes how business is run.

    The internet has caused massive damage to Mom and Pop brick shops. The intenet allows the user to access materials from far away. Vs. the local store which stocks the item to be sold. If the local orders from same company, they mark it up. So the shopper eliminates the middle person, saving them the cost. Even the mighty beast Wal-Mart is facing stiff competition from internet selling companies and they are facing ruin as well.

    It will take a cataclysmic event to make shopping only a local event. So for this to work and make enough profit, timing will have be accurate. Even indoor flea markets have a tough time of it. One of those open air covered warehouse type of structures will be a gold mine in the future, allowing many vendors to gather so that nearby citizens can come for barter.

    Thank you again for beginning this discussion – I look forward to the feedback and thoughts. I do agree that too much ‘green backs’ can be a bad thing. Tangibles are needed too.

  2. Most small businesses fail, a simple fact. Also like many countries, America has recessions. Right now America is due for another recession. During a recession more businesses fail than the normal amount. Seems to be a poor choice for an investment right now to me.

  3. I had to read this twice. So the premise is be prepared by “investing” in a business because more than likely you won’t use your preps? So I buy insurance but don’t file claims so I should stop buying insurance and instead invest in an insurance company?

    I started up my own prepper related small business about a decade ago. It was very profitable from the get go due to the unique business model. I was still working a full time job and once they realized I was about to jump ship they offered me a promotion and a raise that I could not refuse. I quickly sold off all the inventory I had. It was a great experience. I know several folks who own small businesses including my wife’s family. The Internet and just in time delivery is are impacting their business. So just because a “mom and pop” business has been “profitable” over the course of their lifetime doesn’t mean that it will remain profitable in an ever quickly changing business environment.

    As far as a private school being a sound prepper investment I would have to ask for some proof. How did these schools fare during the Obama depression? Did enrollment go up or down or stay the same? If enrollment went down is it truely a “prepper” investment? I would expect a true “prepper” business to have increased demand hence profits when a disaster or emergency strikes not less.

    One other issue I have is with something the author pointed out about Millennials and debt load. So will the debt laden Millennials, whose children will be the ones attending the private schools be able to afford private schools for their kids?

    Also if you are “destroying” preps you are prepping wrong. And I will answer the question about all the “material” goods I have purchased over the years- if nothing else they are a hedge against inflation. I have [500-round] bricks of 22 LR with $7.99 price tags on them. A few short years ago I could have sold 100 rounds for that price. Hardware is also another area where I have saved money. I have sets of utility hinges with 59 cent price tags on them. To replace them cost me over $2.

    I don’t doubt the value of the education offered by the private schools but I do doubt their value as a “prepping investment”.

    As for other business my friend who has been trying to sell his gun shop for the last few years has pretty much stopped looking for a buyer. His kids want nothing to do with it. Most people can’t buy it since banks view it as a bad investment given the political climate. The paperwork and rule changes are also ever-challenging. Oh and once again let’s look at the millennial generation. Fix something? no just buy a new one since it will give me instant gratification.

    As for quilting I have to laugh. I live by an Amish enclave and just about every yard has a sign advertising quilting services and quilts for sale. That market is kinda saturated around here.

    1. Just to clarify, the point was not that you shouldn’t prep, or that helping establish a school or buying a business was the strongest “investment.” It was that those types of investments do, indeed, have an important and vital use in communities where preppers live, and should be seriously considered. It does, however, take a positive attitude and long-term commitment to the community rather than just self.

  4. I can relate to the “retiree” not being able to sell their business. I have a small screen print and sign shop operation and have been modestly profitable with for 20+ years all the while working for someone else until retirement in 2006. Except for 2010 & 2011. Fortunately I had cash reserves to get thru those times.

    My point being that in trying to “sell my business” I have found most of the younger folks sort of want you to give them the biz and then teach them how to run it. Even my children have no interest in taking it part time. All the equipment is paid for, old but well maintained and is currently making me a profit whenever I start it up.

    Learning from 2009 where I was primarily dependent on the real estate industry I have since “diversified” into several other market niches that don’t require as much physical exertion and stamina due to age and physical limitations (ie: I don’t climb ladders anymore).

    There are so many ways one can make a few hundred dollars a week or month to supplement your income the hard part is deciding which one would make your desired income level and then staying focused on it. Check out your local library for books like “100 Part Time Incomes”. I have a friend who repairs tree root damage on concrete driveways and another with a pickup truck that does odd jobs for friends, neighbors, and others from referrals. Both indicate they average $40-50 per hour for jobs.

    While the author is an advocate of buying existing businesses I suppose you could find one ready to call it quits and then go into competition with them without having to lay out a lot of money up front. If at some point that business does decide to fold their tent you would be positioned to step into the void.

    A mentor from long ago taught me to never “moralize, hypothesize, theorize, or pontificate” just open your eyes, figure out what a potential customer wants/needs and then make it easy for them to get.

    Sorry to have digressed from the excellent theme of the article but the need to keep busy gets me up every morning and out to my shop….

  5. I honestly do not mean to be negative, but I have to say, I completely disagree with the positions in this article. Investing in a B&M of the small variety is a poor use of capital at this point. The business model is dying-rapidly. This is an environment of e-commerce, and small B&M’s are no longer limber or reflexive enough to compete with major retailers. You cannot invest in expansive inventory that you cannot reliably move en-masse, so you cannot compete on price. You do not have the volume to affordably provide the (at minimum) 2 day shipping American consumers now expect, so you cannot compete on availability (side note: Amazon bled money for the first 5 years of its “Prime” service bc of the cost of shipping, and they allegedly still operate at a loss). And if you’re buying a business banking on a societal collapse and being first to market in that new environment, well, I suppose I have a bridge for sale, you could buy it and try charging a toll.

    As for investing in a school – you know, I don’t even have time to go into the folly of that idea. I mean no disrespect whatsoever, but the advise posited here is not good advice. If you feel you just HAVE to invest in a business, keep it small, keep it niche, keep it a product you manufacture yourself (so you can control your inventory), and for gosh sakes, keep it mail-order or e-commerce!

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