I flew out to Phoenix on Sunday for a couple of work meetings on Monday. I timed my meetings so as to give me an opportunity to attend PrepperFest in Scottsdale.
PrepperFest in Arizona is a two day affair. I attended not because I needed to buy something (I ended up doing so anyway...more on that later), but because I'm always interested to see:
- What the prepper demographic looks like in large numbers
- What new products, strategies or theories are being advanced into the marketplace
- What the hot topics are with the conference speakers
- What speakers I might be able to invite to some of my conferences
- The prepper demographic has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. What had been a middle-aged white guy sporting tactical pants and Murica! t-shirts convention has gone completely mainstream. No exaggeration here - young moms in yoga pants with small children or infants in tow, suburban dads in Dockers and golf shirts, of all ages and races. This was about as diverse as a trip to Costco in Northwest Austin on a Saturday. (For those of you not familiar with Northwest Austin, put it this way - there are nearly 30 languages spoken at my stepdaughter's school.)
This is a very good sign to say the least. People are paying attention to the news and are making the effort to at least learn more if not get better prepared.
- Aquaponics has become well established now in the prepper community. I wasn't sure how well this strategy was going to be adopted by preppers, but suffice it to say there were multiple vendors there who paid big bucks for prime real estate at the expo. Don't let my lack of optimism for aquaponics catching lead you to believe I don't think it's a good strategy. It's just a strategy that requires more effort than simply stocking up on a thousand cans of Mountain House freeze dried.
- Preppers need to do a better job supporting these events. A number of vendors reported that expos like this are tough for them, insofar as they don't manage to sell much merchandise at them. I've seen it at the seminars and field day I host. People don't want to pay for training, education or quality supplies. That's why I'm convinced the only places preparedness stores will survive is in the Utah area, where there is a large base of customers (LDS church members) who make preparedness a priority.
- Speaking of vendors, they are becoming much more diverse as well. I never thought I'd live to see the day where there were a number of people of color at a preparedness expo, selling preparedness supplies no less. Vendors from patriot types to granola hippies to soccer moms manned the vendor booths. I fully expected to see a collection of middle aged, camo wearing white guys selling out of date MREs and chem suits from the Cold War era. While there was a small amount of that, there were also RV salesmen, farmers selling milk goats and goat cheese, young ladies handing out samples of the newest freeze dried flavors, engineers selling solar generators that they mass produce in their garage and an assortment of other diverse vendors.