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684 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Shopping After TEOCAWKI

Forager's Code: Take only what you can use or trade. Don't do any more damage than necessary, you don't know when you will need to come back for more.

SPECIAL NOTE: I am not advocating looting, this is only to be used in PAW fiction or in case of the end of civilization!

It doesn't matter what the disaster was, the zombie virus has run it's course, the ash from the super volcano Yellowstone has stopped falling, the nuclear bombs have stopped, you are one of the few survivors. I don't know whether it was quick or slow, whether there was rioting and looting or not, a lot of damage or little. If you are just passing through an area your needs will be different.

I can't cover every possible scenario, so I will make some presumptions. You are the leader of a small group or the leader of the forager crew. You will have a base of operations I will call the 'Compound'. Ideally it will have space for livestock, including pigs, ponds for water and fish, greenhouses and gardens, compost piles, smokers, tannery, a fuel alcohol distillery, and an off the grid electric source. Also the people who know how to operate them. I will presume some rioting and looting.

There are some things you will need to help in your work. If the compound is very far from the urban center you would need a base in your work area so you don't have to carry everything back and forth to the compound every day and a place of refuge in case of bad weather. An ideal base would be a municipal garage or any home or business with a fenced in area. The fence will help keep in what you want to keep and to help keep out visitors, whether two legged or four legged you have coming to your base. You will need something to carry things such as wagons, garden carts, wheelbarrows, grocery carts, two wheel dollies, forklifts, all have their advantages and disadvantages as to what they can carry or where they can go, so have several kinds. Bins, buckets, bags, and cages to carry small, loose, wet, or alive items. If you have access to electricity you can use rechargeable cordless power tools. Bolt cutters, pry bars, axes, and saws for when you have to force entry. Flashlights, lanterns, and other lights for darken buildings. Careful of torches and candles, you don't want to start any fires. Ropes, cords, wire, and chains for binding or pulling things. Pens and paper to make notes of what you find and where you leave behind things. Phone books, maps, and reverse phone books (phone books organized by phone number or by address then giving name), to find homes and businesses. If you have phone books before you leave the compound, have others looks at them to suggest search sites. Kiddie/wading pools to catch rain water and hold fish before taking them back to the compound.

Even if you have a warehouse of ammo, you will need other weapons beside guns to kill, capture, or protect yourself from animals or people. Be it as simple as a spear made from a piece of conduit, a bola, casting net or a projectile throwing weapon such as a bow or sling. You can make capture poles or acquire them from an animal control center. Dip nets can be used to capture fish or small animals.

Before you leave the compound make sure you have the groups approval or not to make alliances or invite others into the group. Before you extend an invitation to another group look at how they are setup and supplied, not just the words they say. Some of the best places to meet other people will be public places. Some places such as malls, hospitals, Dr's offices, police stations, and high end businesses may have been hit hard by rioters. I would expect fire stations and national guard armories will have been defended if they are not caught away at the end. If the people at these places have been attacked, they may have a under siege mentality "everyone 'out there' is against us". Approach openly but carefully. Avoid trap/ambush sites. My advice, don't be the aggressor, but defend yourself aggressively if attacked.

Unless you are after a critical need item I would suggest looking at places with living things first. Do not release any non-native animal you find alive, doing so could literally come back and bite you later. Take living things back to the compound then, as a group decide to keep/use them alive or clean kill, skin and use the rest as food for you or your animals. That is one of the good things about pigs and catfish, they are omnivores that take what we don't eat and change it into something we will eat.

One thing most businesses and many homes have in common, offices. Offices should be the first place you look. If a business has been looted or other foragers have been there first, you should find useful things in the offices. Check the desks, there should be writing material, notes (possibly including the safe combination), keys, snacks, and personal items. Having the keys could save you a lot of time and work opening doors or vending machines. Look inside copiers or printers and get the paper. If the office has not gone completely paperless, you should find Rolodex, address books or phone books with names and possible addresses of customers or suppliers along with warehouses. The pharmacy may be empty, but what about the warehouse or the homes of physicians or delivery customers. The antique shop may not have anything you need, but what about the collectors or suppliers they dealt with.

What about the money you find? If the government that backed the money does not exist, it will have little value. I would suggest keeping what you find, but not spending a lot of time or effort in getting it. At first some might accept it in trade, but probably not for long. The paper money could be used for insulation or to line the bottom of cages. I wouldn't suggest using it for toilet paper unless you find a way to wash drug traces from it. Coins could be used for weights, in games, or to help teach children math. Old or precious metal coins will retain their trade value longer. Jewels and bullion may be used as trade goods. Better the children use coins to ballast their toy boats than an irreplaceable 3/8" nut.

When foraging a business that has a lot of shelves always take a light and check the bottom shelves after you check the offices. Two reasons; one there may be overlooked items there, second if there are any unfriendly creatures, that is most likely where they are hiding. Check the back rooms, the stock rooms, basements, the attics, the maintenance departments, and janitorial rooms. Shelving, it can be taken to be used as is, metal shelves can be used as building material and wire shelves can be used for cages or sides of a compost pile. Check for the businesses pest control items, they can be taken for your own use, whether it control pest or as a small animal traps. Check coolers and freezers. If meat is too spoiled for people, use it for animal food or bait. Hard cheeses will keep a long time especially if sealed. Cheeses can be smoked to preserve them. Spoiled food can be used as animal food or compost. Sprouted food, potatoes, carrots, onions, etc. can be planted. Let the people working the greenhouse and garden look over what plant material you bring back.

When foraging homes and apartments there are several things to look for. With apartments and hotels/motels check the managers office first. There you will often find passkeys and occupancy list. With homes first look up. Is there a chimneys? If smoke, then it may be occupied, if no smoke, then you could occupy it if you need to. If occupied, make contact to find out if you want them to join you or how much area they claim. Are there antennas, wind turbines or photoelectric cells? Then you may want to come again later with the equipment to salvage them. Look down, a 'For Sale' or 'For Rent' sign probably means an empty house. Be prepared for pets left in the home. If they are alive, they may be aggressive. Offer them food and water, then capture them to take back to the compound. House plants can be used or the contents can be dumped into the compost pile and the pots used to grow herbs. Check basements, outbuildings, and attics. Watch for extra thick walls and missing rooms, there may be hidden storage. Look at books and magazines, they will show some of their interest and things to look for.

There will be people who survive but cannot face the change. Some will go home to end their lives. Be as prepared as you can be for what you might find. If you find a closed up garage, open it to the outside air and wait before entering. If you find a refrigerator or freezer that has the contents and shelves removed, do not open it.

Animals, animal feed, animal care - pet stores, veterinarian clinics, animal shelters, animal control, kennels, stables, feedlots, riding academies, zoos, school biology departments, feed & seed stores, agricultural schools, sale barns.

Plants, seeds - nurseries, garden centers, greenhouses, feed & seed stores

Maps, phone books, business directories - Chamber of Commerce, Post offices, phone offices, utility offices, pest control offices, city and county offices.

Lawn care, earth moving equipment - cemeteries, land fills, schools, airports, parks, sports complexes, logging companies, saw mills.

Water treatment - sewage plants, pool centers, water treatment plants

Personal, household items - bus stations, storage rentals, freight service, delivery services, thrift shops, consignment shops.

Propane - businesses that use propane powered forklifts, check addresses at propane dealers,


Farms, colleges, schools, nursing homes, airports, prisons, jails, estates, assisted living centers,


Municipal garage, pest control offices, homes with a fenced area and alternative heat/power, utility yards, police stations


Amusement parks, agricultural extension offices, concession stands, Ambulance/rescue/first responder stations, warehouses, factories, wrecking/tow yards, libraries, office supply stores, trucking distribution centers

When I wrote this I hadn't heard of Jerry D. Young and the authors on this site, much less read any of their work. Also I know Mr. Young and others had not read this because many of their stories were written before mine. I try to be like Shakespeare, when I steal ideas I try to only steal the best, like these I stole from Mr. Young and others.

Commercial laundry's and laundromats will have bleach and other cleaning supplies. Besides that they usually have large plate glass windows that could be mined for greenhouses. Gas stations and convenience stores also have plate glass windows but are more likely to be burned or broken.

Search the major roads for stopped deliveries, making note of what you find as you go out and pick up what you can on the way back.

Check the rail lines and rail yards for loaded cars. Also rail bridges are less likely to be blocked and can be used as a crossing point unless a train was traveling over it when everything stopped.

If you are near a major waterway check for barges and tugs, both as transportation and for any freight they might be carrying. Check any navigable body of water for boats and fishing equipment. Marinas will have spare part, repair equipment, fuel, and fuel additives.

There are a few more that I will not post, but will give as a PM or e-mail if they let me know they want them. It would be better if they are not generally known

684 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Boats, whether on the water on at a home, often have useful items. Fuel and additives, fishing gear, first aid kits, ropes/cords, floatation devices (use as is, take apart for insulation, but not as fire starters because modern ones are treated with fire retardant), the trailers are good light duty trailers, along with sometimes flares and airhorns. I would not recommend using boats as water catchments because of fuel spills along with other chemicals.
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