Three Letters Re: Barter, Post-TEOTWAWKI: The Micro Store

Hello James:
I thought that the post on barter micro stores was superb.

I think additional consideration should be given to “dispense-from-bulk” strategies.  1 pound of petroleum jelly in single use (0.5g) pouches costs $48 from Sam’s Club.  35 pounds (5 gallon bucket) of petroleum jelly costs $90 from an on-line candle supply company.  Similar cost spreads run between single serving bottles of vodka and one gallon bottles and salt in bulk and single serving packets.

It is pretty obvious that you will need a secondary container to carry the bulk materials if you are going to put the micro-store on wheels.  There are some very large syringe bodies available from farm supply stores that make dandy grease and petroleum jelly dispensers.  They are also graduated with markings on the side to add some credibility to the amount dispensed.  Virtually any kind of bottle can be used to dispense other liquids.

And while I love Tabasco sauce as much as the other man;  there are some significant logistical advantages to dried pepper flakes.  They are easier to measure out of bulk and I think they are easier to store.  Any Ziploc type bag will do.  Another advantage is that the seeds are usually viable.

Best regards and may the blessings of the season shower upon you. – Joe H.


I enjoyed the article last week on stocking a barter store. Back in 2006, I read where you suggested that ammunition in the most commonplace calibers would be a good thing to sock way as a barter item. That was truly sage advice. Ammo is great because it is durable, divisible and desirable. Like you say, you can’t shoot a burglar with a Krugerrand. I took your advice in big way, and now have a handsome stack of ammo cans that covers one whole wall of my basement.

My modus operandi for my ammo investing is to never pay retail! I buy ammo only when I can find it is deeply discounted in retail stores. I also constantly watch for ammo at garage sales, guns shows, CraigsList ads, and even stores that are going out of business.

I followed your advice on calibers [like 5.56mm NATO, 7.62mm NATO, 12 Gauge, 7.62×39, 9mm, .45 ACP, and 22 LR], but I went more heavily toward the Russian calibers like 7.62 [x39mm] for the AK, the long 7.62[x54r] Russian for the Mosins, and 5.45 [x39mm] for the AK-74s.

While about 90% of what I’ve put away is in commonplace calibers, there were some bargains that I abso-tively couldn’t pass up. This included: Seven boxes of .250-3000 Savage that I got for $4.50 per box at a garage sale, five boxes (250 rounds) of .455 Webley [revolver ammunition] that I got from a guy advertising on Craigslist, some .243 [Winchester], some .40 S&W, and 200 rounds of uncorrosive FN-made 7mm Mauser that I picked up in trade for some old webbing and canteens at a gun show. That deal worked out the same as if I’d paid just $3 for each box of 20.

About one-third of the ammo that I’ve put away is .22 rimfire–most of it’s .22 Long Rifle, but also some .22 Magnum, and a bit of the scarce .22 W.R.F. and .22 Auto stuff. I can predict that .22 shells will be be traded like cigarettes were, in the [World War II] POW camps, and behind the Iron Curtain.

I should also make mention of the fact that I store all of my ammo in GI ammo cans. Every investment should be well cared for. Ammo will last a hundred years (or more) if you store it in cans with good seals, and you throw a silica gel packet in each can. I also have quite a few ammo cans that I’ve filled with magazines and stripper clips. Most of the magazines I’ve accumulated are M14, M16, M1911, M9 (Beretta 92), HK 91/G3, FN [FAL], Glock (the most common ones), [M1] Garand clips, Mini-14, M1 Carbine (30 round bananas) and various kinds of AK mags. Those too, will be like gold, someday.

My wall of ammo is the perfect barter item. I am certain that it will trump just about anything [in barter], when times are hard. I’ll just parcel it our real slowly — never letting on to anyone just how much I have. I’ll be a secret millionaire, in a Mad Max world.

Thanks again for all the great info that you put out in SurvivalBlog. All of the other prepping blogs are just a pale imitation. I gave SurvivalBlog 5 Stars in the Reader’s Choice Awards. – Clement in North Dakota


This was a great article, I’d already acquired some extra of most everything listed, here’s a couple of thoughts…

Hopefully, things will calm down eventually to have a secure mini-store selling to strangers, but I had stocked up extra initially and primarily just to help my closest neighbors. Some I’ll gift preps to, some I’ll trade, but with all it will be done with an eye towards also maximizing and enhancing our own security here.

I want to convert those close by, best I can, from future potential roaming threats into, as much as possible, useful cooperative allies. I want to be surrounded by a buffer of ever more self-reliant and self-supporting helpful neighbors for mutual aid & protection.

I’d also much rather get a heads-up of any threats detected well before they get to our immediate Area of Operations (AO) and hopefully then already thinned out some, too, if need be.

With that in mind, regarding the list…

Ammunition; extra would go first to trusted capable neighbors who could then enhance our own local security, especially those who are open to working together in a coordinated way. I also have some extra  weapons, beyond our groups needs, for this purpose. Also, extra ammo in some calibers that I don’t even have weapons for that are locally popular.

I’ve also put back an additional half dozen cheap FRS radios with rechargeable batteries, to be deployed only to those neighbors who are capable and willing to participate in establishing a com net for mutual aid and defense.

Taking excess paper wealth, after one’s personal family preps are largely squared away, to get some extra preps for barter, sale or charity is good, but then always looking first to deploy them where they’ll best serve to enhance your own family security, too, is  even better. – C.S.

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