Survival Shopping at Costco
I’m sure you all have figured out by now that I’m a huge fan of survival “literature”. I own just about every survival manual out there and love watching all the hard-core survivalist videos on YouTube. So when James Wesley Rawles book, How to Survive the End of the World as we Know It, was published, I bought it almost immediately. One statement he makes in the book intrigued me. You can find it on page 105 (Hey! I know you all own the book, too! Or at least you wish you did!).
Waiting until the eleventh hour to stock up on canned and bulk food is not recommended, but if your circumstances necessitate it, then consider it a calculated risk. Don’t hesitate once you see the first warning signs. You have only one day to shop before the hordes descend and strip the stores clean. However, instead of making these purchases at a supermarket, I recommend buying at a membership warehouse store (such as Costco or Sam’s Club).
Last week I had a few hours without the kids, so I decided to check out Rawles’ advice. Could I really prepare for TEOTWAWKI at Costco? The answer is sorta-kinda. (Check out my Costco TEOTWAWKI Shopping Guide here.)
If all you need are canned goods, batteries, and maybe some over-the-counter meds, then Costco will do just fine. You can load multiple cases into one of their large carts or cargo cart, and you’ll be good to go. The downside of this approach is that all of these goods eventually run out. If you do not also have a way of obtaining long-term food supplies or already have a stable and productive produce garden, you’ll soon be in trouble. But, at a Costco or Sam’s Club, you can quickly load up on large amounts of goods, and it’s likely that these warehouse stores will be initially overlooked by the hordes of unprepared and panicking people.
- Bring cash and lots of it. If the end of the world really is right around the corner, your debit card (Costco doesn’t take credit) may be worthless. Also, you don’t want to be caught at the register, short on cash, already in a sweaty panic, and pressured to decide which survival supplies you really don’t need after all.
- Already have an active Costco (or Sam’s Club) card. Surely you don’t want to be standing in line at Customer Service waiting to have your picture taken while all hell is breaking loose around you!
- Do a store re-con weeks or months prior to The Big Day. Although most Costcos have a similar lay-out, you need to know exactly where to find the bottled water, Motrin, and Progresso soup.
- Decide in advance your top priorities. Use my shopping guide as a starting place but customize it to your own needs and the supplies at your local Costco. For example, most Costcos don’t carry water barrels, but yours might.
- Take someone with you. Divide your shopping list between the two of you.
- Get in shape. Do you have any idea how much all those cans and toilet paper will weigh?
- Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
- Race through the front doors and past the products displayed by the front doors. They are usually seasonal items, gourmet food items, and new products that will most likely not be on your survival shopping list.
- Plan your route around the perimeter of the store. You’ll find clothing, shoes, music, books, dried fruit/nut/candy, seasonal products, and home goods in the center area. Save that space for last, and know in advance what you are looking for. If you’re shopping between October and December, the center is definitely a waste of time, since it will be filled with toys and holiday decorations and supplies. During the spring and summer, though, you’ll find camping and other outdoor goods that may come in handy.
- Drive a vehicle that can handle all the goods you’ll be purchasing.
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