Franchises For Preppers

Prepper franchise - kit

Until now, I’ve never written an article for Small Business Trends while sitting in my basement.  Usually, my words come alive in my well-equipped office.

But, I couldn’t write about prepper-related franchises without putting myself in the prepper’s shoes (or combat boots) for a few hours. I have to tell you, hanging around in my somewhat musty basement for a few hours is as far as I’m willing to go. It’s only been 15 minutes, and I’m already thinking of scampering upstairs to finish this article.

All kidding aside, today I want to take a serious look at a cultural phenomenon — and the franchise opportunities around it. I am not advocating that anyone run out and jump into these franchises. I never advocate jumping into ANY franchise without investigation. Buying a franchise involves spending serious money. There are pros and cons to buying a franchise. You should always do your due diligence.

But as part of my work, I make it my business to know about franchises that are available. As prepping has drifted more into the public’s eye, there are more products marketed to preppers.

And there are some prepper franchise opportunities with crossover appeal. We’ll get to that point in a moment.

What Are Preppers?

If you’re not a regular viewer on the Reality Television circuit, you may not know about the television show that’s on the National Geographic Channel called Doomsday Preppers. In its third season, Doomsday Preppers is a television show about preppers and survivalists. Here’s how the show is described on the National Geographic website:

“Doomsday Preppers explores the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Unique in their beliefs, motivations, and strategies, preppers will go to whatever lengths they can to make sure they are prepared for any of life’s uncertainties.”

The National Geographic channel sounds a bit melodramatic, doesn’t it?

Drama aside, being prepared is a way of life for a growing number of people. Some Americans simply want to be prepared for the aftermath of a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy or Katrina. Those events disrupted lives and businesses for weeks, months, in some cases years.

Did you know that there are meetings taking place for preppers all over the United States? Most are likely kept within close circles of family and friends, but some meetings are public. On the Meetup.com website I found many Meetups on topics such as preparedness, prepping, disaster, survival and similar terms.  Go ahead and try searching. You may be surprised.

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of websites, blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels on the topic of prepping and survival. Some have large audiences.

Prepper Franchise Opportunities with Mainstream Appeal

Let’s look at franchise opportunities that may take advantage of the prepping trend, yet also have crossover appeal to a mainstream market.   There’s also quite a bit of overlap in products when it comes to hikers, campers and hunters.  Keep that in mind as part of the potential target market.

I emphasize the crossover appeal when it comes to a prepper franchise, because the potential market will be larger.

Also, unless you are living the prepper lifestyle yourself, you may find it hard to break into a niche market like preppers.

Metal Supermarkets

The Anderson shelter was a popular mini-bomb shelter that was distributed to citizens in the UK during WW2. It’s a well-known fact that The Anderson shelters performed well under blast and ground shock. That’s because they were made with curved and straight galvanized corrugated steel panels – 14 of them actually.

Those wanting to reinforce a basement or building with galvanized corrugated steel panels might turn to a place like the local Metal Supermarkets franchise that makes it easy to buy reinforcing materials.

Batteries Plus

In the event of a natural disaster or something more, it’s a safe bet that electricity will be disrupted, too. It’s a good thing batteries were invented. Long-lasting batteries will be crucial to our comfort, even to our survival.

Mike Burzminski, the local franchise owner of Batteries Plus, stocks all sorts of batteries. Like:

  • Emergency Batteries
  • 2-way radio batteries
  • Cell phone batteries
  • Cordless tool batteries
  • Industrial rechargeable batteries
  • Golf cart batteries

Battery stores specialize in unusual batteries (beyond the AA battery in your favorite gadget) and chargers, and emphasize staff who are knowledgeable.

Just-A-Buck

I was able to stock up on lots of items at my local Just-A-Buck store.

Everything in the store costs a dollar. I purchased toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, razors, candles, lighters, flashlights, and hand-warmers. I also bought dozens of non-perishable food items like crackers, soup, nuts and candy bars, to name just a few.

Just search Google and you will find many articles and YouTube videos on the topic of prepping at a dollar store, such as this one at Apartment Prepper.

Dollar stores are great places to get lots of supplies for not a lot of money. It’s really about volume when one is focused on preparing for a time when stores may no longer be stocked. It has to be.

Gro-O

You’re going to have to grow some of your own food. Did you know that there’s a franchise that specializes in designing and setting up organic fruit and vegetable raised planter gardens?

Gro-O is the name of the franchise, and they’re big on education. You can attend a garden party at one of their locations where you learn how to set up your organic garden.

Once you’re done learning how to grow your own food in an organic garden, you can go to the Gro-O website and purchase a few GroEasy Redwood Planters. These raised planter boxes are portable and easy to assemble. Bonus: No hardware or tools are needed.

The Beef Jerky Outlet

Beef jerky is one of those food items that has been around since before refrigeration. And it is a food of choice for many preppers and survivalists, as well as campers, hikers and others who spend time outdoors. From YummyJerky.com:

“Generally speaking, commercially produced, vacuum-packed beef jerky has a shelf life of at least one year without refrigeration. Under ideal storage conditions, some varieties of beef jerky can last for two years or more.”

That’s why I paid a visit to The Beef Jerky Outlet, a young franchisor that specializes in tasty, high-quality beef jerky. Whether your local area could sustain a retail outlet specializing mainly in one niche product like beef jerky (and related items) is something to investigate.

These are a handful of the more mainstream franchises available that have overlap with the prepper market.

Non-franchise Opportunities

In my research I came across a number of direct selling and multi-level marketing arrangements. Thrive Life is one such opportunity. This company sells kits for consultants to hold home parties for stocking up on food and supplies.  It’s important to remember that those are “business opportunities.” Business opportunities differ from franchises. While there are fewer rules and a lower up-front cost to participate in a business opportunity, you also get less support and training than with a franchise. There are legitimate business opportunities out there but there are also scams. Be careful, and do your due diligence.

Some products popular with preppers, such as Berkey water filtering systems, are sold through distributor arrangements. As a distributor, you have whatever rights you get under the distribution agreement you sign.  Here again it is not a franchise. You’ll get less training and systems support than with a franchise.  As a distributor you are expected to already know how to sell product.

Finally, you can find many online affiliate arrangements in the prepper world. Food Insurance is one of many companies marketing to the prepper world that offers an affiliate program. To take advantage of an affiliate program, a website puts up affiliate ads and earns a commission from every sale made via the ad.

  • Affiliate programs are low risk, because you don’t pay a dime to join.
  • Affiliate programs are low reward, unless you also have a website with considerable traffic, or a large survival group willing to buy through your portal.

I’m not saying that a non-franchise opportunity is either right or wrong, better or worse.  Just understand the differences from a franchise.

Prepper kit  Photo via Shutterstock

21 Comments ▼

Joel Libava - Franchise Expert


Joel Libava Joel Libava is the Franchise Expert for Small Business Trends. Joel, The Franchise King®, equips today’s prospective franchise owners with time-tested, proven techniques designed to increase odds of success. He does this through one-on-one coaching, and gobs of useful content that can be found on places like Small Business Trends, SBA.Gov, and his award-winning franchise blog, The Franchise King Blog . He’s been featured in Entrepreneur® magazine, and is frequently called upon by national media outlets and publications for his no-spin insights into the world of franchising.

21 Reactions

  1. With the beef jerky, you can even find beef jerky make from grass-fed beef if you’d like a little more beefy flavor to your jerky.

    Other than that, I’m not entirely sold on the whole “prepper” thing, but I see how a franchise like Batteries Plus could succeed in our techno-driven society.

    • I’ve never actually had beef jerky, much less grass fed. I am used to Italian cured meats like prosciutto, sopressata and salami (my family actually made our own when I was growing up), so I might just have to try jerky sometime. I see it all over the place for sale, although I suppose true preppers would make their own.

      - Anita

      • Anita:

        Are you family still into the cured meats? I love prosciutto and salami. I haven’t heard about sopressata.

        I love beef jerky too, especially hot and spicy.

      • Martin, Some of my relatives live in the country and still do butchering. But these days it’s more likely to be deer sausage than something like prosciutto which has to dry for a year and needs a cold cellar. Making your own prosciutto is a bit of a lost art among modern-day people.

        Sopressata is outstanding, but it has huge chunks of fat in it. These days it’s not a politically correct food (not that I’ve ever let that bother me). I don’t eat it often because it’s so fattening and my husband’s palate is much more what I call “Amish style” (meat and potatoes) than Mediterranean. He loves going to the Amish restaurants nearby or when I make something like Amish style beef. If I buy anything like sopressata I have to end up eating it all myself. So I rarely do.

        - Anita

    • Thanks for your comment…and for the information on “grass-fed” beef jerky.

      Never knew it even existed.

      The Franchise King®

    • Batteries maybe for short term, coupled with an off grid recharger would be better. For long term you want stuff that does not depend on modern technology to keep running. Think Amish.

  2. I can see how the Prepper market can click. There are some cautioneers who are simply fond of preparing for the worst. It can also appeal to those people with traumatic experiences.

  3. Joel,

    It’s a HUGE market. People have so much insecurity and so much things to prepare for the worst (doomsday or zombie attack, maybe?), and entrepreneurs grab the opportunity by the horn.

    I’m myself not a prepper, but I do prepare for the worst for global financial meltdown :)

    • Ivan: I have had an idea to start a positive and reality based prepper podcast. You have plenty of crazy people out there with all kinds of conspiracy theories. I must say that I enjoyed the movie, Conspiracy Theory! ;)

      I am also preparing for the financial crisis, by writing about sound money on my blog, Objective Argentum (silver in Latin).

      Best Premises,

      Martin

    • I guess that’s a good idea, Ivan.

      I’m not sure about going to the extreme with it, though.

      The Franchise King®

  4. Anita: I am getting hungry now! :) I have to go to the new indoor market in Gothenburg and see if they have sopressata. Is your Amish style beef a family secret, or do you want to share the recipe? I don’t think I had any Amish dish during my time in Troy, OH. I had a favorite Italian restaurant called La Piazza.

    I can get beef jerky from a store called Extreme Food in Gothenburg. They have all kinds of stuff for a chile-head! :)

    • Oh, gee, is this site turning into a cooking site??? Alright, Martin. :)

      I’ve tried many ways of making Amish beef. I’ve carefully cut it into chunks, browned it, made everything from scratch, yada yada yada.

      But the easiest way (and it tastes to me the same as the completely from scratch way) is to use the following recipe.

      AMISH BEEF RECIPE FOR INTERNET ENTREPRENEURS

      Get a crock pot or slow cooker.

      Throw in about two to three pounds of beef. (UPDATE: “throw” is just a figure of speech, Richard – I don’t actually throw anything in my kitchen, and it does not tenderize the meat to “throw” it.)

      Any “economy” cut is good — usually I buy what’s on sale, such as bottom round or beef tip. Don’t start with sirloin steak or a high end cut – it’s just a waste of money. I cut the beef into a few large chunks — if there is a lot of fat, I trim some of it off. But you don’t need to bother cutting it up into small chunks. The beef breaks down and becomes tender in cooking. You don’t need to brown it, either.

      Add one package of Lipton onion soup mix (if you can’t get Lipton in Gothenburg, a brand like Knorr might be available there — or in a pinch use 3 or 4 beef bouillon cubes). I always have a package of Lipton onion soup mix available — it lasts forever in the pantry. I’ve also made Amish beef without any soup mix or bouillon cubes. In that case, double the amount of onion, celery and carrots you use (see below).

      Roughly chop a small yellow onion. If you’re in a hurry just slice it in big slices.

      Add a small amount (a half cup each) of chopped celery and carrot. This is optional, but it deepens the flavor. You don’t even have to chop it if you don’t want to mess with that. Just throw in a few large pieces of celery and carrot.

      Add two cups of water. Stir to mix it.

      Cover and cook for about 7 hours in the slow cooker. I usually cook on high setting.

      Then I come along and with a wooden spoon break the beef up a bit into smaller chunks. When it breaks down easily you know it’s almost done. Amish beef shreds as it breaks down from cooking – but try to keep some chunks intact as you will enjoy eating it that way.

      I like to thicken the juice into gravy, so I get a half cup of flour and another cup of water, put it in a container with airtight lid, and shake it until it makes a slurry. I use Wondra flour because it mixes with water easily, but as long as you don’t mind shaking a while longer, regular flour works too. The flour-water slurry should be thick like the consistency of thick gravy but pourable. If it’s too thick and paste-like, add a quarter cup of water at a time, until it is pourable.

      Then I slowly pour the water/flour mixture into the crock pot, mixing the entire time to prevent lumps. Then cook for another hour.

      What you end up with is chunks/shreds of beef in gravy. At the end, if it’s too thick add some more water, bit by bit, until you get the consistency you want. I find that the consistency of gravy is a matter of taste — some people like it really thick, some like it thinner. Traditionally, Amish beef tends to be on the thick side in Amish restaurants.

      Right before serving, I use a few drops of browning agent such as Kitchen Bouquet to turn it a darker brown color. This does not change the flavor, but makes it a more appetizing color, I think.

      If it needs more salt, you can add some. But taste it first – I find that the soup mix or bouillon usually adds enough salt. A bit of black pepper helps, too.

      Then serve with thick Amish noodles. Kluski noodles are the traditional noodle, but any kind of thick egg noodle will do. Or you can substitute mashed potatoes if you prefer. You can even serve it over slices of homestyle white bread.

      This makes a lot of beef — certainly enough for a family, with leftovers. We usually freeze a few containers, as well. It reheats in the microwave well, or you can defrost and heat it in a pot.

      It’s economical and can be stretched out to eat for several days. And tasty. It tastes as good as the beef from the local Amish restaurants — and we’ve tried them all, so I know. :)

      While all this is happening, except for the short times I am adding something to the pot, I am able to work on my computer on my business. The crock pot does all the heavy lifting.

      - Anita

      • Anita: Thank you so much for the recipe! :) I am getting hungry now! I have to get a crock pot or slow cooker. Maybe I should add it on my Amazon Wishlist? ;)

        I know the Lipton brand as a tea enthusiast, but I haven’t seen the onion soup mix. Knorr is a big brand here.

        All the Best,

        Martin

      • Agree on the crock pot doing the heavy lifting.

        My daughter has been finding recipes on Pinterest and I’ve been doing some cooking!

        The Franchise King®

  5. Many of us are simply self-reliant, resilient, and into sustainable living. Individual freedom & sovereignty have been suppressed by a purposely dumbed down society, corporate interests, organized religion, and of course ever-expanding government. All in the quest to profit at our expense. When the global ‘house of cards’ folds will you be prepared to feed & care for your family? It’s not about fear. It’s about exercising responsibility and being awake.

  6. I’ve been involved with the prepper lifestyle since 1999 and have hosted my PoorManSurvival newsletter and website for five years. I turned down the chance to appear on DoomsDay Preppers as I wasn’t willing to sacrifice so much privacy. Like many others, I started learning about preparedness in the Boy Scouts and during my years in AZ working with LDS folks.
    Based on how unprepared many seem to be on nightly newscasts after a natural disaster, I think its an idea our ancestors would have applauded.

    • Hi Bruce,

      Luckily in my house, we have a small cable TV provider and they don’t carry the National Geographic Channel, so I’ve never seen the Doomsday Prepper show. Sounds like I haven’t missed anything. I can understand what you mean on the privacy thing. My husband would say “over my dead body” — even after a decade of my running an online business, he still won’t allow me to use his name or show a picture of him.

      I totally support the idea of being prepared — whether in your personal life or in your business. I am amazed by how little most people seem to know how to do on their own these days. Not to mention how little thought they give to what would happen in an emergency situation or how they’d get by.

      - Anita

  7. Thanks for sharing. This is a growing trend.

  8. Hello Dear sirs, I would like to inquire as the possibilities of you possibly mailing me ANY and ALL FREE info. you might offer on survivalism, and when “TSHTF”! Also…if you would be so kind as to send me a list of EVERYTHING you think I should “stock” up on! Thank you, FLY NAVY…(oh, bye the way….I’m a 100% disabled vet!

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