Buying and Selling the Financial Collapse Meal
By: Tom Chatham – Author of The American Dream Lost
Chance favors the prepared mind. For those entrepreneurs that understand economics, a financial collapse situation is just another type of business environment. People will still need the basics of life and someone must be there to sell it to them. A financial collapse situation will be hell on Earth for those that are not producers in society or have a supply of hard assets to trade. There are three periods of a collapse that a person needs to be concerned with.
The initial stages of collapse will usher in a degrading economy where prices continue to rise and the acquisition of basic needs becomes increasingly difficult. As people become desperate to purchase food, those that have supplies to sell or can produce those things from scratch, will be sought out to engage in sales of those products. This is a time when urbanites will still have transportation assets to seek out products in rural areas. This time of collapse is characterized by increasing desperation and decreasing civilized behavior.
The mid crisis stage is when desperation causes civilized behavior to completely break down among a majority of the population. This is the most dangerous time in society when lawlessness peaks and defensive measures are at their height. During this time, those with assets needed by society are best served by being invisible and maintaining a defensive posture to protect their assets and family until such time that civilized behavior begins to return to the populace.
The final stage will resemble the initial stage operating in reverse. Decreasing desperation will lead to increased civilized behavior among the population that still remains. This will happen when the population and available resources begin to rebalance themselves and once again become a sustainable system.
These stages will occur at different times in different areas of the country and intensity will be largely dependent on the individual communities. During large portions of the initial and final stages, it will be possible to conduct some commerce to continue earning a living. Conducting business at these times may get you labeled as a black marketer by the government, not that anyone would really care at that point, so you should be leery of any bureaucrats.
The most demanded item in a financial collapse would be the need for food. This can be sold uncooked in bulk for home preparation or by the meal and ready to eat. As the situation deteriorates, it will become harder for individuals to purchase food due to lack of hard assets making the purchase of individual meals more common.
When looking at the situation from this point of view, you begin to ask reasonable questions. What will I sell? What will my customers pay with? Where will I conduct my business? These three questions may be the most important not only to earn income but to remain safe.
What will you sell?
This depends on where you are and the resources available to you. If you live on a farm and have access to fresh produce and meats, you can sell many types of meals. You may elect to sell from your roadside stand or from a truck or trailer in another location. In an urban area you may be limited to storable foods such as rice, beans, cornmeal, flour or oatmeal. You will determine the amount of food you can buy and store at the least amount of cost. If you have the ability to resupply from the source, you will need to determine how to transport those items in a deteriorating environment. In a collapse, a simple meal such as vegetable, potato or bean soup and a piece of cornbread may look like a feast to many so keep it simple. A pot of soup can be simple and cheap to prepare and the ingredients are easy to store. An inexpensive meal can be built around beans and rice as well. Prior planning and stocking of supplies will be crucial to successfully implement a plan such as this.
What will your customers pay with?
This depends on what you want for your needs. The exchange may be actual money, coins or maybe gold or silver coins. It might be raw materials like copper, building materials, clothing or a determined amount of labor. This is something you need to think about before you begin this type of endeavor. As the system begins to crumble you may already have some of your projected customers identified. While things are still functioning but continue to noticeably deteriorate, you may be able to impress upon these potential customers that they need to convert some of their money into gold or silver or even rolls of nickels. As they see the changing conditions and are assured by you that they will be able to exchange these things for your excess goods, they may do the smart thing. You may be in a position to exchange goods for their labor. If you have any type of production assets that require labor, you may be able to exchange a few hours of their labor for a few meals. Your location and situation will dictate your payment system.
Where will you conduct your business?
The implied threats in the mid crisis stage will make the conduct of business away from your home or storage location much safer as civility breaks down. It will provide you the opportunity to cease operations and hunker down in a safe location until the worst is past. A mobile location such as a truck or trailer would be ideal. You may choose to conduct business in places such as a deserted building, a warehouse, an alley or at a more public location such as a flea market. It should be an area where you can control traffic flow in and out to maintain control of the situation at all times. You should have a private route to enter and exit in the event of sudden chaos or danger. If you live on a farm you may decide that selling from a roadside stand or store is sufficiently safe to engage in business there. A small roadside location with a few tables and a wood stove would be very inviting in such a situation. Your threat assessment will determine where your location will be and what shape it will take.
For those caught without resources, you will have some difficult decisions to make. You will have to rapidly develop a source of exchangeable goods. A cell phone contains about 1/1000th of an ounce of gold. A standard tube type TV set contains about one ounce of silver solder and most electronic circuit boards contain silver solder that can be extracted and used for trading. The copper wiring in junk cars or buildings can be collected for a trading medium. Catalytic converters on vehicles contain platinum or palladium and rhodium which are very valuable. The knowledge of how to use a car alternator to make a generator or wind turbine will have value you can trade. Alternators and starters contain copper windings so even a inoperative unit has some value. When the world falls apart you must look at your surroundings for the tradable resources you need. Your next bowl of soup may depend on it.
Some will ask if it is moral to sell food in such a circumstance. If it is moral today why should tomorrow be any different? Every person that buys food from you is one less person that will be starving. The difference will be the extent to which you extract payment from those in need. If you charge a fair value for the services delivered you are conducting an honest business. If you are confronted with a family that has not eaten in two days your moral fiber will determine if they are fed and sent on their way or if they are merely sent on their way hungry. There are those that will take advantage of the situation and extract a painful toll on those in need of necessities and this is something you should avoid. Just keep in mind that there is a difference between a bowl of soup and a pack of cigarettes or a bottle of whiskey.