How to find a “Prepper Job” that’s right for you

This is an entry in our current non-fiction writing contest by Oldalaskan

What kind of jobs are available for “Preppers?”  This is a very broad statement but I will narrow this down to some of the small business I have created in the years past and maybe you can adapt them towards your needs or likes.

One of the first businesses that I done was when my children were little and that was as a neighborhood ice cream vendor. We started with a 3 wheeled bike with a freezer on the front and sold popsicles in various neighborhoods in town and at special events. I found a website called there they sell all manner of cycles and carts for street vending. Like I said you could do the neighborhood routes by loading it onto a trailer and transport it and you can get into special events. Here I needed a business license, a “commissary” (this is a pace to store your product and clean the cart) and the blessings of the local health department. In the 1980’s regulations weren’t very strict and I used my garage for my commissary you may get away with it now it depends on your health department.

I had 2 large freezers to store the product that I bought from local wholesalers. Then I could buy an ice cream sandwich for 12 ½ cents and sell it for 75 cents. Otter Pops I bought at a Costco type store for 2 cents and sold them for a quarter. There was a need for an inexpensive item in lower rent neighborhoods. Remember I said I started this when my children were small LOCK the ice cream up. From this I graduated to an old mail truck that I converted by painting the inside white and cutting a hole in the side of it on the curb side of the truck to vend from. I had a wooden door that was on hinges that I could tie back and had pictures and prices of my product on it.

I worked these part-time since I had a full time job and worked the night shift. With the bike setup I had about $4,000.00 invested and it took 2 month’s to recoup my investment, the truck I had about $5,000.00 invested and that took one month to recoup my investment. With the truck I could get around faster and cover more territory.

My next venture was a mobile food truck and for this I converted an old class C motor home which is something I wouldn’t do today but a 20 foot or larger step van is more suitable for this. It will take time and many trips to the health Department to get it licensed but the expense of a commercial truck $50,000.00 or more you might get want to weigh the pro’s and con’s of making your own.

This took me and my 2 sons to operate and we sold Coffee, store bought donuts, nacho’s, hot dogs and it had a small freezer for some ice cream. We worked mostly special events. All of the transactions were in cash nuff said.

Depending on the event you can get one or more turkey fryers, 20lb. propane tanks a 10X10 pop-up tent or a 10X20 carport tent and go to Sam’s club and buy peanut oil, a funnel and funnel cake mix and make funnel cakes or several cans of “Johnny’s” Potato soup mix and add bacon and chopped clams for a very good Clam Chowder and of course a griddle for hot dogs, sausages or other items. Sliced onions and green peppers frying are people magnets.

Another thing to consider if you are doing events or flea markets is to attend the “ASD” Show (do a computer search of ASD SHOW for more information). Here you can buy all kinds of merchandise to re-sell at events or flea markets or contact local crafts people to sell their items at event for a commission.

If you want to really tie yourself down open a thrift store. For this go to your local goodwill store and look around, where are all the women at, in the clothing section. You could buy new clothing and jewelry at the ASD show or go to storage and estate auctions. This second part you could loose a lot of money real fast or make money. The trick is there is none, as in gold mining you must move a lot of dirt to get a nugget of gold and so to in storage auctions. About 50% or more will go into the dumpster but what is left should be saleable. You will have to wash the clothing and make sure it’s in saleable condition. Also you will soon know your market and know what people are buying. I personally know several people who are making a very good living at this. One person has 4 large 5th. Wheel enclosed trailers, 3 full time employees and his wife and him. They have been doing this for over 10 year’s and seem to be doing quite well but like I said they work real hard at it. You could also buy storage and hit the Flea Market circuit. Once again it’s all cash.

If you do the auction thing read up on Commercial Code 2-328 here is just a small excerpt from it and all states have this regulation:

§ 2-328. Sale by Auction.

(1) In a sale by auction if goods are put up in lots each lot is the subject of a separate sale.

(2) A sale by auction is complete when the auctioneer so announces by the fall of the hammer or in other customary manner. Where a bid is made while the hammer is falling in acceptance of a prior bid the auctioneer may in his discretion reopen the bidding or declare the goods sold under the bid on which the hammer was falling.

(3) Such a sale is with reserve unless the goods are in explicit terms put up without reserve. In an auction with reserve the auctioneer may withdraw the goods at any time until he announces completion of the sale. In an auction without reserve, after the auctioneer calls for bids on an article or lot, that article or lot cannot be withdrawn unless no bid is made within a reasonable time. In either case a bidder may retract his bid until the auctioneer’s announcement of completion of the sale, but a bidder’s retraction does not revive any previous bid.

(4) If the auctioneer knowingly receives a bid on the seller’s behalf or the seller makes or procures such a bid, and notice has not been given that liberty for such bidding is reserved, the buyer may at his option avoid the sale or take the goods at the price of the last good faith bid prior to the completion of the sale. This subsection shall not apply to any bid at a forced sale.

Not all auctioneers are alike there are many good honest ones and there are some real crooks be careful. With storage some auctioneers will “Cherry Pick or Stage” the unit. Cherry picking the auctioneer or manager or owner take out high dollar items for later sale and stageing means the good items are set in front where people can see them or EMPTY tool cases or gun cases are made visiable to get higher bids. ALWAYS bid as if the case is empty.

Now for all of you who are thinking of retiring and traveling around the states following the sun, “Snow Birding”, there are several websites for “Work Camping” AKA the Gorkies in the movie RV. You work part-time jobs as campground host’s, maintenance (cutting grass and cleaning the shower rooms) to working at amusement parks and a whole host of other jobs. Some websites for this are;,, or just do a search for work camping.

My wife & I plan in about 2 years to get a big 5th wheel toy hauler camper and travel around the states helping auctioneers as needed as support staff, Clerks, Cashiers, Ringmen (there is a school for this called the professional ringman institute, look it up and maybe buying at storage auctions and hitting flea markets to sell what we find. Look up for locations all over the US. There are over 20 different auctioneer schools but to get established it will take you several years. Do a search for auctioneer schools, Repperts auction school in Indianapolis is one.

There are also several websites where you can set up your own “timed” auction like E-Bay does look up for a good easy one. You can do this on the road or at home with a computer, a digital camera and a credit card service or Pay Pal. The post office will give you FREE flat rate boxes for shipping.

I have been mentioning storage auctions a lot REMEMBER you can loose your shirt at these if you don’t know what you are doing. Go to a few and just watch and listen to the people talk before you pull the trigger and buy one. What are some of the items you can find at storage auctions? Well it depends a lot on your area. In Indianapolis you will find a lot of antiques and glassware, here we find a lot of outdoor gear, camping, ammo, tools, guns, military (2 military bases here) and a LOT OF JUNK. I plan to have one or two areas in my camper to for storing my firearms, ammo and 30rd. magazines out of sight and hidden. We also don’t plan on going into California, New York and a few other anti gun states.

For a TEOTWAWKI event, if you have some wood, one inch chicken wire, hardware wire and other supplies stockpiled then growing chickens and rabbits could be very lucrative. Rabbits breed well and you don’t have to worry too much about inbreeding. Having 2 or more does and a buck will within 3 months supply you with 10 or more rabbits (30-32 days gestation and 8 to 12 weeks food ready or for breeding with an average of 5-6 kits per litter or more) and within 10 months by eating only the excess males you will have rabbits to sell or barter as meat or if you like the people or you are in a community setting for breeding. The same can be said for chickens but you will need a rooster and one rooster for about 10 hens will work otherwise the roosters will try to kill each other. You can sell or barter eggs and meat chickens or as layers. If OPSEC is a problem Rabbits are quite and Roosters crow. I mention these since they breed and get to market weight quite quickly as compared to Sheep, goats, pigs or the larger animals.

You could grow excess vegetables in your garden by “stacking or layering” the grow boxes. 32 gal. trash cans or excess automotive tires can be used for growing potato’s, read up on the “rain gutter grow system”, grow seedlings to barter for transplanting and you can grow a host of items in your house during the winter with a south facing window or windows. Many plants are self pollinating and don’t require insects for pollination or as with carrots, lettuce, beets, turnips and such no pollination unless you need the seeds.

If things look like it ill last for years then set up a part of your garden to produce extra seeds for barter for the next growing season that’s if anyone will be around. Our ancestors here in the country did this.

I could go on with ideas like this for another two or more pages, but if you have a little imagination these few suggestions could make you a very good side income or supplement your retirement income and remember if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life.

Prizes for this round (ends May 24 2014) in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive –  A $150 gift certificate for Hornady Ammo  courtesy of LuckyGunner, a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and Three Survival Seed Vaults courtesy of LPC Survival.
  2. Second place winner will receive – Brand New, Sealed Case of Military MREs (Meal, Ready-To-Eat)  a $119 value courtesy of and a Survival Puck  courtesy of Innovation Industries.
  3. Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of and a copy Herbal Antivirals and Herbal Antibiotics .


  1. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Good article and food for thought. Thanks so much.

  2. Donna in MN says:

    The last part of your article reminded me how my great grandmother survived as a widow raising 4 childen alone during the early 1900’s in Carlton, MN. She had ows and sold the milk, cream and butter, she made dandylion wine for trades, and sewed dresses for a living out of her home with a treddle machine, and with her farm land on the edge of town, she rented it to a farmer. She saved a pasture for her cows and a horse that pulled her buggy to deliver her products and a large garden for those heirloom vegatables she sold at the farmers market, using the seeds over and over again.

    In a survival senario, she used resources that people needed, not unnecessary things. Food, farmland, clothing, and alcohol. Well, back then, the Irish thought alcohol was essential to living, lol.

    • Donna in MN says:

      Typo: She had cows, not ows!

      • Cows and ows go together, Donna! Same with horses!

        • Donna in MN says:

          You mean orses?

          • al uhrich says:

            Hey donna, cows and ows go together, especially when they don’t want to cooperate when you are trying to put the milking machine on. that’s when you get busted in the chops when you aren’t expecting it. ( the same thing happened when we were milking by hand ) Splat, right across the chops with sloppy, stinky piece of tail ( cow ).Or they would decide to kick you when you lest expected it. Yeah kids, I’m that old ( and sometimes I can feel it ).

  3. patientmomma says:

    Thanks for the information on the auction! That is very helpful to me as I want to put excess furniture, dishes, etc, up for auction.

    My grandparents survived the great depression on a small farm; paid their taxes using food and animals as bartered. Something I need to improve on!

  4. mom of three says:

    I know a couple, she works 6 months, out of the year at the local bakery, he sells on ebay, just getting stuff at garage sales, thrift store, get this they live on a tiny island population 2100. I got my job by knowing the baker, and his wife. They first used family member’s, then a good friend to help out. But because it’s only three day’s a week two hours, a day no one can really make anything so their family stopped working, and her friend got tired of the same routine every day. I don’t care it’s fun to me I get to talk to people,
    wash pans, take home free donuts. I’m happy as a clam, I agree do
    what makes you happy and it’s not work 🙂

  5. OldAlaskan, Thanks! I love the positive upbeat tone to your article!
    A somewhat related story:
    We built a house for a couple a few years back but they didn’t have enough money ($15K) to do the garage. Now this little lady really, really wanted a garage. So she scraped herself up an ice cream truck (music and all) and at the end of two summers, she called and said she had her garage money in cash & could we come build it?!
    It is this can-do attitude and willingness to try that makes all the difference!

  6. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights into running DIY businesses which are economy resistant. I wish I had something to add, but other than my own projects, have never been an owner of a business. One insight I can share from an acquaintence was that running a restaurant was VERY EXPENSIVE, due to having to have cooked food and staff available on hand, regardless if customers came in or not. Anticipating a food rush often left him with food he had to discard – wasted profit.

    He said he switched to a food catering where a known amount of food (i.e. plate) could be budgeted was far more profitable and less labor intensive. And he worked less hours (though far more labor intensive).

    • Catering can be a real simple job to earn extra money. A friend of mine in Maine was a caterer and she finagled a contract at the local county jail to feed the inmates and also do a lunch counter at the local university. She raised her family doing these two gigs and a local catering job once in awhile.

  7. the only problem I see is that with a TEOTWAWKI event, selling used stuff is out the window, it is going to be a barter economy, and people are going to have a lot of old stuff but no food or water, I am thinking more and more the chicken and rabbit route, even hens make a racket, so I might start with rabbits. The business that I am looking into BEFORE the TEOTWAWKI would be a dog treat food truck, show up at parks and sell “dog water” “dog ice cream” “dog cookies” etc, there are a lot of people that are out there that will not have 3 days water or food on hand, but will spend $25 a pop for their favorite “baby” i.e. their dog. Now I am a dog guy, I have two at home and am dog sitting one as I type this, but I draw the line at “dog ice cream” but I will sell someone high $$$ items for their dog!
    Here is one in Chicago, they are in every big city:

    • RJArena,

      This post was not meant to be about after a total economic collapse but things you can actually do NOW.

    • RJArena, so…what kind of business would u transition to in a post-disaster or post-TEOTWAWKI? People will no longer have $$ to spend on their dogs & may not even have table scraps. I wonder if there’d be people who can no longer feed their pets & would give someone something to put it to sleep humanely, rather than letting the beloved pet starve.
      Also, if people get very, very desperate for food, would people consider eating theiir pet, or taking someone else’s pet for food?

      • Redc- unfortunately people will resort to pets as food several of the people I have spoken with that survived Stalingrad all stated that they or someone they knew did just that.

    • RedC, read ” one second after” it deals with very concern.

  8. Chuck Findlay says:

    Right now I make a living repairing almost everything you can think of. I do handyman work and while it took several years to get going I’m now busy all year long. It was not always this way, I had 5-years of very low employment in the winter. I learned to pay cash for everything and to live well below my means. Now that I am making more money I still live well below my income lever and put the extra money into silver, tools and supplies to support my work.

    When and or if it hits the fan things will still need repair, things will break, cars will still need break jobs. I think a Jack-Of-All-Trades (what I am) will always be able to find work. And the fact that I went through hard times that taught me to live on less and still do well tells me I will do OK if it does hit the fan.

    I’m not worried at all about my ability to work post SHTF, if anyone is working, I expect I will also be working.

    As bad as it was during the 1930s depression unemployment was only 25%, that means 75% of the populous had a job and money to spend.

    The next depression is likely to be worst then the last one, but I think I will still be able to find people that value what I do. I have no idea what form of exchange (money) we will be using, but it doesn’t really make a difference as long as it buys food and supplies.

    Maybe it will be Bottle caps…



    • Chuck Findlay,
      You stated in part, “When and or if it hits the fan things will still need repair”, to which I will add “more than ever”. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, and there was a repair shop about a block and a half from our house. The guy, who ran the place, tolerated me hanging out there and asking more questions than I should have been asking, and could and did fix everything. TV’s, Radio’s, Toasters, Irons, fans and just about anything you could name. Many of these items would be simply tossed and replaced today; but, when the items, or the cash to buy them is no longer available, the handyman, tinkerer, fix-it person will once again offer a valuable service.

  9. H. Nelson says:

    I found the best prepper job. I work for a wholesaler. The company sells guns, ammunition, reloading equipment and supplies, fishing gear, knives, freeze dried food, medical supplies, candy, oil lamps, lamp oil, camping gear, tents, sleeping bags, camp stoves, camp fuel, sewing supplies, gardening tools and fertilizer. Employees can buy at wholesale cost.

  10. Our family has a self made started business. We began out of Ford Ranger pickup a roadside service company, changed tires , jumped batteries , brought gas . From there , we got a Full sized Cargo van , and began a mobile mechanic business only taking on the jobs we felt comfortable with , and wanted to do in someones driveway . We have no a mobile oil change business , with another van , have oil stored on shelves , and a tank onboard for the refuse oil , BTW we sell the oil to a processor who sells it as bunker oil on ships.We keep three of us men on the road most of the week , and my daughter running the office work. 4 jobs.

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