The New York Times examines the booming business of selling preparedness for societal breakdown, with more and more Americans worried that civilization may be on the verge of collapse in the wake of major hurricanes, blackouts, financial crisis, Iran building the bomb, et cetera. The irony is that the movement’s proponents are so obsessed with “getting ready” for the end of everything that in a sense they have already given up on our world:
The preparedness industry, always prosperous during hard times, is thriving again now. In Ron Douglas’s circles, people talk about “the end of the world as we know it” with such regularity that the acronym Teotwawki has come into widespread use.
The goal isn’t just to sell to the same old preparedness crowd. Red Shed wants to attract liberals and political moderates to a marketplace historically populated by conservatives and right-wing extremists. It’s about showing the gun-toting mountain man in his camouflage and the suburban soccer mom in her minivan that they want the same thing: peace of mind.
Douglas [a 38-year-old entrepreneur and founder of one of the largest preparedness expos] talks about emergency preparedness, sustainable living and financial security — what he called the three pillars of self-reliance. He detailed the importance of solar panels, gardens, water storage and food stockpiles. People shouldn’t just have 72-hour emergency kits for when the power grid goes down; they should learn how to live on their own. It’s a message that Douglas is trying to move from the fringe to the mainstream.
At the Self Reliance Expo, Scott Valencia, a business developer from the video-game industry who formed Red Shed with Douglas last year, instructed vendors to avoid fear tactics and improve their displays while also making sure that the venues were welcoming and well lighted with wide aisles — the better to fit baby strollers and families. There was to be no more doom and gloom.