Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Can You Survive Economic Crisis? Are Americans stockpiling?

Booming preparedness industry says Americans are stockpiling

Posted: March 08, 2009
8:15 pm Eastern
By Drew Zahn
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

To some, the term "survivalist" conjures images of camouflage-clad men stockpiling freeze-dried food in a mountain cabin, but in the current economic crisis, the people quietly preparing to survive catastrophe may just be your next-door neighbors.

In his column in last month's Financial Times, business and technology expert Ade McCormack writes, "The world is in crisis and with it the world of business. Many of us have two plans. Plan A involves President Barack Obama performing some economic magic. Plan B involves a revolver, a vegetable patch and a subscription to Survivalist Monthly."

And while McCormack was writing with a hint of jest, dissent over the president's trillion-dollar spending approach to the economy has left many average, everyday Americans considering something looking suspiciously like plan B.

Bill Heid of Survival Seeds, a company that sells "banks" of high-yielding vegetable seeds sealed for long-term storage and awaiting a family's need to grow its own food, says business is skyrocketing.

"It's been dramatic, nothing short of dramatic," Heid told WND. "The survivalist mentality used to be considered a fringe element, but now that economic times are such as they are, many more average, regular folks are adopting the same set of preparations."

Heid told WND what's most notable is that his boom in sales isn't coming from just the usual survivalists stocking up for a Y2K-like event.

"Ninety percent of our increase in business is new business," Heid said, "people who have never thought about surviving in case of emergency before."

The Christian Science Monitor reports that Lehman's, an Ohio retailer of home self-sufficiency equipment, has recorded huge sales increases from across the preparedness spectrum, from curious buyers to the stereotypical die-hards, according to ...

Vic Rantala, founder of Minnesota-based Safecastle, which markets home shelters for protection against disasters such as hurricanes and chemical attacks, told the Monitor his company's revenues have more than doubled since 2007.

"If most people think of a survivalist as an armed loner with extreme views – there are folks like that out there, but there are many more in America who are simply involved in preparing for down times, lean times or disaster," Rantala, a former U.S. intelligence analyst, told the Monitor. "It's logical. It's common sense."

Seattle Times Columnist Danny Westneat interviewed Claire Anderson, a 68-year-old woman who was prompted by Obama's call for community organization to host a meeting of neighbors in her apartment. Their discussion of the slumping economy and fears of what lies ahead harkened back to the leaner days of her World War II childhood.

"I think we're headed back to the days of the victory gardens," Anderson said. "We have to figure out how to help ourselves. We can't be isolated. We can't sit around and wait for the government."

A New York Times article from last summer suggests last year's elevated fuel and food prices sparked a surge of interest in gardening that hasn't slowed since.

"Seed companies and garden shops say that not since the rampant inflation of the 1970s has there been such an uptick in interest in growing food at home," writes Times reporter ...

George C. Ball Jr., owner of the major seed and plant supplier W. Atlee Burpee Company, told the Times sales shot up by 40 percent last year, double the annual growth for the last five years.
Ball said of the surge in business, "You don't see this kind of thing but once in a career."

Anxiety over the economy has generated a spike in other areas of the survival and emergency preparedness industry, too.

Harry Weyandt is president of Nitro-Pak, a company that sells freeze-dried food, survival kits, fuel, camping gear and a variety of emergency preparedness products.

"Since the middle of last September, the demand for our long-storing foods and supplies has been very high," Weyandt writes in a column on his company's website. "We are shipping orders as fast as possible, but the demand for preparedness supplies and long storing foods is gaining steam again."

Last summer, an ABC News report said "there are worrying signs appearing in the United States where some … locals are beginning to hoard supplies." The report said some suppliers were concerned the U.S. government may be competing with consumers for stocks of storable food.

Spokesman Bruce Hopkins of Best Prices Storable Foods told WND his company was having trouble obtaining No. 10 cans and other storable foodstuffs, in part, because the federal government was purchasing such large amounts.

"We don't know why," Hopkins said. "The feds then went to freeze dried companies and bought most of their canned stock."

A statement from one of the world's larger suppliers of food stores, Oregon Freeze Dry, also confirmed that sales of No. 10 cans had increased so significantly, the company couldn't keep up and had to remove the products from their online catalog...

Newspapers from around the world reported last month on people facing the economic crisis with increased preparations for catastrophe...

Simon Beer, who operates a survivalist website in Australia, told the newspaper he has seen a surge in interest lately.

"Climate change, peak oil, the economic situation," Beer told the Herald, "people are seeing we're headed for catastrophic changes."

The Toronto Star reports the story of Paul, a man in his mid-50s who only three years ago became alarmed over the possibility of fuel shortage and began a plan to prepare for survival should the worst happen.

"When cars stop running? And grocery stores go bare? What do you think is going to happen?" Paul asked the Star. "It's mind boggling once you grasp it." ...

Read more: Forget stocks ... Fretting Americans turn to stockpiling

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