Alright, take a moment and imagine with me, you have been a “Survivalist” for a couple of years. Every paycheck you try to set aside a few dollars to put towards emergency supplies. Thanks to your frugality and foresight you have been able to stock enough supplies to last you for some time.
One day, something bad happens. The world as we know it is no longer the same. There is rioting and chaos in the streets and you feel that it is no longer safe for you and your family to stay in your suburban neighborhood. You load up the wife and kids and pack all of your gear into your truck and trailer and say goodbye to your home, for what could be the last time.
It Would Be Nice To Have
You have your bases covered, but you still wish that you had been able to top off your gas tank. Maybe you wanted to run to the store and pick up another box of ammo, or get those prescriptions filled. Maybe you hadn’t been as diligent in your preparations as you should have been and you find yourself woefully under prepared for the situation you now face. Maybe before today you had never even considered the idea that life as we know it may never be the same. No matter what the reason, stuff is headed south and you have to get more supplies.
The Raid Route
By looking back at every natural disaster that has occurred in recent history, we see a pattern start to emerge. Word comes down that a hurricane is going to come through and everybody immediately flocks to the big box stores and wipes the shelves clean. Places like Wal-Mart are a convenient place to stop by to grab that gallon of milk and the pack of diapers before the weekend, but time and time again they are stripped clean when panic sets in. Not to mention that there have been notable crimes committed in some of these large Wal-Mart type stores’ parking lots. In this article I hope to get you thinking of other ways to obtain much needed supplies while avoiding the places where everyone else will go during an emergency.
Raid Route Planning
When thinking about your raid route, you must first consider where you and your family plan to bug out to in a major collapse. Start with your primary bug out location and then add a potential secondary location. Also consider this same type of plan for bugging in. Whether you are traveling home from work or to your bug out location, you should start taking notes on the stores and supplies that can be found a long the way. Focus on back roads and county highways, stay away from interstates, major highways and urban sprawl town centers containing big box stores (Best Buy, CostCo, Wal-Mart, Target, Friday’s, and the rest of the chain stores). The interstates and major highways will be clogged with the unprepared while the urban sprawl town centers will be full of hysteria and panic. Also in your planning, you need to think about how long you can afford to stay at each location, what type of security you will need when you are in the store, how you will protect your vehicle while you are in the store. If you are going to raid, this is where you should start.
Food should be your first concern, if you have enough then avoid this topic all together. Major grocery stores are an obvious choice and when people panic, the first thing they think of is food. I would suggest avoiding large grocery stores unless you can be one of the first 100 people in the door and you have a concealed carry permit. Hopefully readers of SurvivalCache have made some type of long term food storage plan as part of their bug out strategy. As you travel along your raid route, look for alternatives to the major grocery store. Pharmacies often have a small selection of food (Walgreen’s & CVS) and will be less crowded compared to a regular grocery store. Convenient stores (gas stations), the name says it all but if you are truly a raider in a “Without Rule of Law” situation be careful, most convenient stores are owned by the person behind the counter and he or she can often times have a weapon.
Organic grocery stores, although they have a much smaller selection of America’s favorite high fructose corn syrup based foods, they are often out of the way and patronized by a smaller part of the population. This might be a great place to find on your raid route.
Hospitals (Yes, hospitals) every hospital has a cafeteria and in addition to having prepared meals in the cafeteria, they have lots of dry food and snacks. No doubt these cafeterias will be long abandoned during a TEOTWAWKI situation.
Large hunting stores such as Sportsman Warehouse, Cabelas, and Bass Pro Shops are now stocking freeze dried food buckets. It might be a good idea to know the location of these products in the store prior to a WROL situation or else you might find yourself distracted by all of the other cool stuff in Sportsman Warehouse.
Pet Food Stores – ok, it sounds gross but most cat food is edible. Try to locate the organic brands as they will have the highest quality of ingredients. It might not be first on your list of recipes but it should be considered in your raid route planning. As a bonus, most pet food stores have medicine and medical supplies that can be used for humans as well.
Restaurants, although this would be my last choice because most of the food in restaurants is perishable or requires refrigeration, restaurants often have large amounts of dry goods stored and as a bonus they have liquor and beer which could be bartered.
Looters are the bad guys in most situations. Looters are the people who steal and destroy to better their chances at survival. We do not condone stealing, but it comes down to a personal decision while traveling your raid route. Is it worth breaking the law to get those supplies? Is there still law and order? Nobody knows how long paper currency will hold its value in a collapse, you may end up having to make purchases with other forms of currency right away. What has value as a bartering item is a frequently discussed topic on the survival cache forums. Most seem to agree that junk silver, common types of ammunition, food, everyday supplies such as toilet paper and medical supplies will be highly sought after items during a collapse (37 Survival Items). Big box stores aren’t likely to accept your trade goods as money, however, most Mom’N’Pops stores will have the flexibility to work with you. Here are some good places to find barter items on your raid route: Hunting stores, Hardware stores, Gun stores, Liquor & Cigarette stores, Coin dealers, Pharmacies, Lumber stores, Gas stations, Medical supply stores and Hospitals.
This one is pretty obvious. You need to have the space to transport your newly acquired goods. If your bug out vehicle is that little Ford Focus that you drove in college, you may not have the space to carry everything you plan on acquiring. Trailers are your friends. U-haul and trailer rental places might be another consideration along your raid route. You will need to add a trailer hitch to your vehicle prior to an event if this is going to be a consideration.
If Hurricane Sandy was a warning to us all, people are likely to flood all of the corner gas stations to fill up their tanks and portable gas cans after a disaster. If you have ever tried to fuel your vehicle on a payday weekend you know how hectic it can be. Some additional places to look for fuel would be marinas and fishing shops that sell prepackaged containers of gasoline for use in boats and cars. Many ranches and farms will have large, above ground diesel tanks that they use for refueling their tractors and trucks. You may be able to barter with the owner for a few gallons to get you to your destination. Trying to steal or loot from farmers or ranchers would be a bad idea, they will most likely be armed. It also goes without saying that you would be very wise to stock up on portable gas cans and fuel safe containers while you can. Great idea, invest in a siphon kit.
Outdoors Super Centers like Bass Pro Shops, Sportsman Warehouse and Cabela’s are a ton of fun to visit and often have a wide variety of supplies. They draw so much traffic that they could be picked clean very quickly but maybe not immediately after a disaster because most of the “sheepeople” will think grocery stores…then flat screens. Things to focus on: fishing supplies, common ammunition, reloading supplies, warm clothes, shelters, hunting supplies, communication gear. Keep in mind that a number of employees at these type of stores carry firearms, especially in the firearm department.
Other places to consider along your raid route would include small gun stores, pawn shops, gunsmiths, bait shops and the like. I always make it a point to visit and support my local small businesses regularly and I try to build a good relationship with the owners. Being friendly can go a long way when you are trying to strike a barter deal.
Tools/ Hardware Stores
Once people empty out grocery stores they will likely turn to hardware stores like Lowes, Ace Hardware, and Home Depot. Once again your best bet is probably going to be family owned small businesses. Make note of where all of the little corner hardware and auto parts stores are located. Make a list of supplies that you will need and a list of supplies that will be good for barter.
Most big box stores like Walmart and K-mart have pharmacies in house for the convenience of their customers. These locations don’t carry much stock and are likely to be picked clean in the initial panic. If it were my choice I wouldn’t even bother trying to buy or raid supplies at these stores, again the location itself might be too dangerous and crowded. Small private medical practices, veterinary clinics and standalone prescription pharmacies are very likely to have the medical supplies that you need. Emergency rooms will also be full of medical supplies. Unfortunately, the deeper you go into a hospital, the more likely you will encounter heavy locked doors that guard most hospital supplies.
What else? What are you planning for your Raid Route?