Three Letters Re: Trading Posts of the New Frontier

Dear HJL,

There are a few things that I do not understand in the article, written by TCG. First of all, his background in the food distribution business certainly qualifies him to write the fine article noted above, and I am certainly not critiquing the article. One of the things that confuses me, however, is in the first paragraph regarding the layout of a store. Any given building contains 100% of the available space and whether it is divided 25/75% or 75/25%, it contains the same amount of product. The variable is not the amount that is stored in the back but how the total inventory is managed by employees. It is conceivable that during a TEOTWAWKI event, store management would secure the entire building to control the release of supplies in the same way that an employee “checked in the back room for a customer request.”

In addition, the addition of DCs and the receipt of several deliveries a day increases the flow of product, not limiting it to one or two deliveries a week as in TCG’s example. Granted, store managers are urged to improve their return on assets ratio (ROA) by making greater profit on a lesser investment in inventory, thus creating the “just in time” (JIT) concept, but the involved companies have facilitated that process by creating DCs that were not previously available, thusly shortening the supply lines. If your local Wally World seems to have less on the shelves then it used to, it is due to Corporate or local management, not the supply chain.

Lastly, I certainly agree that it might be prudent to locate the local DCs in advance but, honestly, I can’t see the management of a multi-million dollar warehouse loaded with hard-to-find commodities dealing a couple of cases of fruit cocktail out the back door for a few silver dollars or a case of scotch. Besides, his warehouse probably contains gallons of scotch. If he does have any “breakage”, it will go to some very heavy bidders or relatives. Remember, all of the businesses that he supplies will be watching his (actually their) inventory closely and, when shortages occur, will descend like locusts on the DC, possibly with every truck that they can round up. You can also expect security at the DC to be several magnitudes greater than the Korean store owner’s during the LA riots.

Anyway, good article which brings up a good point, but I just don’t see DCs as a resource when TEOTWAWKI. Thanks again for your excellent work. Prep as if your life depended on it. – GLD

o o o

HJL,

I feel the need to comment after reading yesterday’s post, “Trading Posts of the New Frontier” by TCG. I read where “I am by no means advocating anyone run out and start looting their local Piggly Wiggly distribution center”. I am unsure how to interpret that statement when the TCG then describes how to find these DCs by watching trucks, listening to the CB, and searching online. Holy cow, where do I start?

There are some DCs in the area where I reside, but even IF I were so inclined to visit, scout, loot any of these, unless I live next door, I would be traveling on the roads at a time when I want to be off the roads. Second, as a daily reader to SurvivalBlog, we know that we need to be prepared BEFORE the SHTF. That means that most of my preps should have been taken care of yesterday. We’ll never arrive, but we should all have food and the means to grow more now. Third, most DCs are very large buildings without windows. If you are inside that building, how much can you carry out? Would it be enough for another week or month? That won’t help you for a long scenario. Also, what happens if the DC is approached by a large, friendly or unfriendly force while you are inside and is ready to exterminate you? You’ll just be another cockroach to be squashed. Aarrgghh! Please, use your time to prepare to live, not to loot. I remember the first time I read one of these posts.

I remember wondering why JWR put in a post like that. The next day, after the replies came in, he posted at the bottom that he wanted us, the readers, to understand that there are people that think this way. If they’ll look at looting a business, they’ll be coming down my driveway next. Thanks to the staff at SurvivalBlog. God bless you all. Piper in Virginia

HJL Adds: Just to clarify, I do not believe the author was suggesting that we should consider looting the Distribution Centers, but rather we should build relationships with the manager/owner of the DCs so that commerce is possible later. Of course, if the local gang takes it over, you do have a problem then.

o o o

Hugh,

There is just so much good information on this blog and this reader has clearly thought a lot about DC’s and has a lot of information about how to find them, but this article seems to be avoiding the issue of one key element of these supply-line behemoths… employees.

I cannot imagine a DC that runs without a full complement of employees in staggering numbers who, A) know an awful lot more about the building, its security, its available resources, and every other concern than someone who’s just done their research; B) live within a short drive or very long walk, if necessary (post-SHTF), of the facility; C) are, generally speaking, not the kind of upstanding, forward-thinking, well-prepared folks who will be hunkering down at home in the early phases of a true crisis.

I would hate for the readers of this fine blog to spend a great deal of time on this project, let alone hang their hat on it, when the most-likely scenario is that the horde of employees it takes to run these gigantic caches (along with everyone they know) will have those DC’s cleared out long before the dust settles on whatever event triggered the crisis.

I suppose it might be worth checking them out, if they are within range of a patrol, but it would be a shame to waste precious resources, and maybe lives, traveling any real distance to see another empty shell. Isn’t that locally-owned grocery store a much more likely trading post location in any case? It is close to home, everyone knows where it is, and it may be cleared out initially, but trade has to resume somewhere. Why not the same place folks are used to going? – KS

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