When Category 5 Hurricane Rita was pelting toward the Gulf Coast shore in 2005, it triggered one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. More than 2 million Texans alone evacuated.
The hurricane would make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in southwestern Louisiana, just east of Sabine Pass near the Texas-Louisiana border. However, business surged at The Survivalist Emporium, which had opened just a few months before as an online shop offering outdoor survival gear in Montgomery.
The shop has grown to feature survival and emergency gear, army surplus and firearms in the storefront the Yancey family opened in January 2013 on Liberty Street.
“We try to educate people that you are not crazy to prepare for stuff like this,” co-owner Guy Yancey said. “If everything went to heck in a hand basket, the No. 1 thing you have to do is to be prepared as far as food, water, shelter and communication.”
Guy runs the shop with his son Scott and his wife, Diane, who said the store found a niche offering a variety of merchandise for outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists.
Among the gas masks, chemical suits and radioactive iodine tablets, the shop offers more practical equipment, such as tents, military sleeping bags, long-term food and solar-powered radios.
“We have a broad customer base, from campers and hikers to hunters and survivalists,” Diane said. “I think that is what makes our store that niche because we can service so many different interests.”
Guy said the shop appeals to area residents, who tend to enjoy outdoor activities such as a camping, hunting and recreational firearm shooting.
“In Montgomery County we have a lot of people that are outdoorsy,” Guy said. “We have a lot of sportsmen and avid shooters. It all plays in together. Your outdoors people, your campers and your hikers—they buy survival gear and they buy outdoor gear.”
8 Common Mistakes of Beginner Survivalists
• Not knowing what they are preparing for
• Dressing like survivalists and making themselves stand out
• Not storing a variety of foods
• Ignoring the importance of water
• Letting everyone know they are prepping
• Buying a lot of gear-- but not learning how to use it
• Thinking a bug out bag—a portable preparedness kit—is enough equipment
• Spending money they do not have on preparation