Piles of matchboxes, solar-powered lights and hand-pump water filters stack up on the counter at The Preparedness Store.
Owner Rusty Kappel upsells each customer, throwing in a few more filters and fire starters.
Six people patrol the narrow aisles picking out the necessary items to survive.
The scene at Kappel’s store has become more common over the past couple of months as fears of disaster and apocalypse swell .
Kappel said sales have spiked the past six weeks. He said folks have cited war, economic crisis and government overreach as the reason to buy the survival gear.
“This gal that was just here wanted to pay for the stuff she ordered because she was worried the banks were going to close this week,” Kappel said.
Kappel doesn’t judge his customers’ motivations and encourages everyone to live up to the store’s namesake and be prepared. None of the customers Friday wanted to speak with the Post Register. One woman bought almost $2,000 worth of merchandise and another purchased about $400 worth of items.
A possible reason for the increase in survivalism could come from Julie Rowe’s recent book, titled “The Time is Now.” In the book she describes a vision about the rapture she received following a near-death experience she had in 2004. Rowe, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and her book have influenced many followers of the faith to buy survival gear in response to some of her predictions.
The book points to plagues and sicknesses, upcoming natural disasters, a stock market crash, and foreign troops invading the U.S. as future catastrophes, but with very few specific dates for the occurrences.
Kappel stocks Rowe’s books on his shelves and he said he can hardly keep them there.
An Aug. 31 internal memo from the church listed Rowe’s first book under “Spurious Materials in Circulation.”
“Although Sister Rowe is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The experiences she shares are her own personal experiences and do not necessarily reflect Church doctrine or they may distort Church doctrine,” the memo said.
Rowe wrote on her website Thursday that “(her) story is not intended to be authoritative nor to create any Church doctrine. It is simply part of my personal journey that I have chosen to share in hopes that it can help people to prepare for the times we live in.”
Kappel said none of his customers have cited Rowe’s writings as a reason for their prepping.
“I think people are just afraid, they’re seeing the sign of the times,” Kappel said.
Kappel’s biggest sales at the business located at 120 Northgate Mile have been dehydrated and freeze-dried foods. Kappel said water filters and portable camp stoves have also been hot sellers.
Utahans have swarmed survival stores as well, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. A customer service representative for American Fork’s Thrive Life, which sells freeze-dried food, told that paper its sales have risen by at least 500 percent in the past few months.
Other businesses in Eastern Idaho who provide disaster preparation gear have not seen the same surge in sales.
Jim White, manager of Army Surplus Warehouse, said sales of survival gear has been steady with no new spikes. White said there is a relatively constant movement of survival gear such as water storage barrels, energy-packed food bars and surplus Meals Ready to Eat.
“No, we haven’t seen a huge uptick,” White said.
The Wal-Mart in Blackfoot has a section of the store dedicated to large quantities of dehydrated food. Store Manager Susie Goodnight said she hasn’t noticed anything dramatic in sales of the items.
“In our area it does very well,” Goodnight said. “But I would notice if the section was empty.”
Kappel said he has to keep restocking as a lot of his products have sold out over the past six weeks.
He encouraged people to look to the future and, of course, be prepared.
“You can’t prepare after an emergency,” Kappel said.