They are not on the beaten path… often, they are tucked away in small towns and back streets away from the main business districts… the Mom & Pop type stores that cater to people who live a more “traditional lifestyle”. People who make things from scratch, who buy ingredients in bulk, who bake their own bread, grow their own vegetables and who learned to be self-sufficient starting in their generations-old handmade oak cradles.
These stores are absolute gold for preppers. We have several of them in north Missouri, and we have found them invaluable for stocking up on supplies at reasonable prices.
We were at our personal favorite store today, located in a small town in the middle of nowhere. The town has less than 100 people, but there were about 30 customers in the store when we were there today… filling carts with 50 pound sacks of flour, rice, hard read wheat, rolled oats, ingrediants of every kind… in the summer, the store is filled with every kind of locally produced food a person can imagine, purchased from local farmers.
This store is an example, it’s run by an extended family of members of the Mennonite community. It’s also located within a couple of miles of a commune (yes, a real-life, honest to goodness commune) as well as a small community of like-minded environmentalists. Much of the area around the store is Mennonite & Amish.
PRO TIP: As a prepper, don’t look for where the Amish sell their stuff… look for where they BUY their supplies. That’s the place you want to be shopping.
SPICE’S PRO TIP: Look close. The people who run this type of store (I’ve seen similar gems in several states) do not tend to be masters of display and marketing. They know where things are; their usual customers either know where things are or know where to ask. If you know what you are going for, asking works great; but if you take a careful look around you might find surprisingly useful things you wouldn’t have thought to ask about.
Many of these odds and ends may be things our great-grandmas used regularly, but we don’t. Still, for a prepper-type homestead they might be very valuable. Today for example I found a mortar and pestle. I haven’t seen one of them outside of a lab in years, but if you have to do your own fine grinding (necessary for many herbal medicines, for example) nothing is better. Right next to that was a metal tea ball. We generally used prebagged teas now; but those are wonderful if you’re making your own infusions and don’t want plant bits in your teeth. There are a lot of small tools like that that are very useful in a lower-tech lifestyle; these small shops are the place to find them.
PRO TIP: Places like the one pictured here only put a small fraction of their “big bags” on the shelf, this isn’t like a warehouse club where you can see all they have in stock on pallets. They may well have 500 pounds of hard red wheat in the warehouse, and it may be at a heck of a price, but you can’t see it. If they have one, they probably bought it by the pallet load and have a bunch available. When they buy by the truckload, as a place like this does, shipping is LOW, so it can save you a BUNCH of money to buy this way on heavy/bulky stuff.
PRO TIP: If you see small bulk bags/containers of something (like on the shelving in the above picture), they have it in bigger batches as well. Depending upon the shelf-life of what you are seeking, this can be a really inexpensive way to buy food items to do your own home long-term storage packing.
Start looking around, places like the one featured here are out there… just probably not on the beaten path.