Prepping 101: Where do you buy supplies if big box stores near you are almost out of stock?
04/04/2020 // Arsenio Toledo // Views

During a disaster – or even the threat of one – the shelves on big box stores get cleared out quickly by people looking to stock up on food, water and other necessary survival items. If you don't get there early, things like bottled water, canned food, first aid kits, hygiene supplies and survival gear like flashlights, and firearm supplies will run out quickly.

If you're lucky, you may be able to grab a shopping cart's worth of survival supplies that can help you get through the disaster. However, there's another way to get all your basic survival needs: Don't shop in big box stores. (h/t to

Small stores will have fewer empty shelves

As their name implies, big box stores are massive. Because of this abundance of space, they also have an abundance of shelves filled with different kinds of products that they can sell quickly. The advantage of this is that prices tend to be cheaper. The downside is that they can minimize on stored goods, which works well for them as long as the supply chains run smoothly. However, disasters are well-known for causing a lot of chaos.

Smaller stores don't have this problem. To get a decent price on their products, owners of smaller stores need to buy a lot of them, sometimes even as much as big box stores. However, because they lack the shelf space, they keep more of their products in storage. If you go to your corner mom and pop store, you may see shelves filled with items that are closer to their "best by" dates than similar goods in big box stores. One advantage this has is that it takes small businesses longer before they run out of products.


Furthermore, small businesses can go by relatively unnoticed. They can usually be found in small, rural neighborhoods, or if they're in cities, away from central business districts and more commercial areas.

Small businesses are also great for self-sufficient lifestyles. If you're fond of making things from scratch – or want to learn how to do so – then many mom and pop stores can provide you with things you may need. With the ingredients that are on sale in small businesses, you can learn how to bake your own bread, grow your own vegetables and repair your own clothing.

Other tips to take into account

Small businesses are gold mines for preppers and survivalists. They're invaluable if you're living in rural areas because they might be the only store within miles, and they're fantastic for city dwellers as well because they won't be as crowded as big box stores. Here are other tips to consider if you want to buy supplies from small businesses:

  • Buy in bulk – Small mom and pop shops usually have a lot of items that are tucked away in storage because of limited shelf space. If the shop buys their products by the pallet, they could offer discounts if you buy certain items from them in bulk. If not, ask them where they ordered it. If you can invest in buying survival supplies by the truckload, you can save a lot more money in the long-term by buying everything you need directly from the source.
  • Look closely – Small businesses may not be the best at displaying their items, so it helps to ask if they have the things you need. If one of the store's employees is leading you to an item you asked for, be sure to look around. You might find things that are surprisingly useful for your prepping.

Check your online maps and start looking around for smaller stores in your area. You'll never know what you might find useful for your homestead.

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