Preparedness stores are slammed as eastern Idahoans stock up
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Rusty Kappel, owner of The Preparedness Store & Bosch Kitchen Center, received national attention after being featured in an online segment for NBC’s “Dateline.” (Watch it in the video player above).
While that helped raise awareness for his store, coronavirus has been a bigger contributor. Kappel says he’s seen a 200% increase in sales over the last several months.
“We’ve been extremely busy. An awful lot of people have come in, particularly as they (the media) talk about shortages with meat and having a 30-day supply at home,” Kappel explains. “Most of our canned products that we’ve got just disappeared. Our food storage has really boomed.”
Kappel says many people have started making their own bread at home and it’s been difficult to keep wheat grinders, mixers and other related items in stock.
The Preparedness Store offers a variety of preparedness items and kitchen gadgets, including Bosch kitchen mixers, juicers, dehydrators, vacuum sealers and canning items. It also has 5-gallon to 265-gallon containers for water storage, water filters, first aid kits, emergency lighting or heating units, freeze dryers, hundreds of freeze-dried items and much more.
NBC and other national media outlets have contacted Kappel this year because Chad Daybell focused heavily on preparing for the end of times. He wrote several books about the topic and spoke about being prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. He reportedly believes the world is ending July 22.
“Chad has come in here. We used to sell his books,” says Kappel. “I know they talk and they preach it, but I don’t know how much they practiced.”
Planning for the future
When it comes to emergency preparedness, Kappel says people tend to think long-term. But the best way to do it is a month at a time.
“Make sure you have a basic supply of those basic commodities…and then build into it,” he says. “If everyone could have a month supply, then when something happens, you’re not running and taking up the limited resources.”
Kappel cites the shortage of toilet paper during the peak of COVID-19 as an example.
“I sat back and watched all that happen, and thought, ‘Gees, what’s going on here? Come on people!'” Kappel says.
David Gillmore lives in Shelley and has been an avid emergency prepper for years. He was prepared for the coronavirus outbreak.
“We did not go out to the stores and buy toilet paper at all when everybody else was hoarding it,” Gillmore says. “We bought it four years ago and we stored it. The non-preppers were hoarding.”
Gillmore may be a familiar name to some people. He’s posted hundreds of YouTube videos under the name LDS Prepper and his channel has more than 172,000 subscribers.
His 3,200-square-foot home sits on a one-acre parcel and is decked out with a variety of resources, including solar panels, greenhouses and an herb garden.
He and his wife have invested thousands of dollars over the years with the goal of being prepared when disaster strikes.
“We purchased N95 masks in February because we kept our eyes and ears open,” Gillmore says. “We paid attention to news reports and when we heard what was happening in China, I thought ‘There’s no way it’s going to stop there.'”
Gillmore says the impact of COVID-19 will continue to be felt for a long time.
Opening a preparedness store
Kappel moved to Idaho Falls from Tucson, Arizona in 1996 seeking a new way of life. He and his wife were tired of the heat and the frantic pace of life. They wanted a quiet place to raise their family.
The decision to open a preparedness store was inspired, in part, by something he experienced as a kid growing up in Virginia. Hurricane Agnes hit his hometown in June of 1972.
“It took our power out for two weeks,” Kappel says. “We moved up to Vermont and went through two weeks of 20 below weather. School was out. Everything was canceled. I watched our grocery store empty (overnight).”
Years later, his future wife experienced a flood in Tucson that took out a bridge, cutting off her community from supplies for two weeks.
“I just see a practical application to have these things,” Kappel says. “I love being outside camping with survival equipment and emergency supplies so we decided to (give the preparedness store) a shot.”
Kappel spent the first several years of business in the old Cat’s Pharmacy building on Elva Street before moving to the corner of 1st Street and Northgate Mile. The store moved to its current location at 1519 Northgate Mile between Stan’s Paint Clinic and the Dollar Store about three years ago.
Kappel says it was shocking to see how quickly the pandemic affected the entire world. As stage 4 of the reopening phase continues and life slowly returns back to normal, Kappel says the time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens.
“Right now, a lot of resources are available,” he says. “If you’re unsure about what the future holds, it would make sense to go gather some resources. The more we do, the better off we are as a community.”
Gillmore says being prepared for an emergency doesn’t happen overnight. It requires developing a mindset that puts priorities in perspective and having a plan.
“If the last few months haven’t scared people into being prepared, I don’t know what will,” Gillmore’s wife, Sue, says.
You can also visit Gillmore’s website here.