By the co-authors of SHTF Survival Bootcamp
Today, we have an interview between Toby and Bosnian War survivor Selco, as they examine how shortages of goods impacts a populace, how these shortages spread, and what the prepper can do to mitigate how they impact his family. Enjoy. (For the full video interview, scroll to the bottom of this post.)
Well, as we move through to the new year and beyond, in 2022, we’re delighted to have Selco with us again. And we’re gonna hit on a very specific topic again today, but really unpacking it into quite a degree of breadth, but hopefully with some brevity. So we don’t want this to be a long recording by any means. But we do want to hit a few key points on that. And the main theme is shortage of supplies. But we’re not just talking about the actual products on the shelf at consumer level. And we’re going to go a little bit deeper than that.
But one of the things we’ve said unique to urban survival for the history of all the writings and teachings and sharing we’ve done is that you are facing problems when there’s more people than there are resources. And we’re not there yet. But certainly, the trend is going uncomfortably in that direction. And preparedness is always about being ahead of the decision-making curve. Or is about being able to identify the coming trends to beat them. So that’s why this is so important today because we can kind of see what’s coming a little bit down the line. Again, this is not your – this is not US-centric. This is Western world, across the board, experiencing these into varying degrees.
Selco, welcome back. Shortage of supplies. Obviously, you’ve been at the absolute extreme end with the complete absence of any supplies. But there was a number of steps before you got there. Right? It wasn’t full supermarkets one day, absolute lack of all resources the next day. So, where do you feel we are in that sort of descending curve of concern?
Oh, yes. We can look, look at this problem of shortage of supply as a multi-layer problem because it is not so. So easy to portray to folks, what’s the real problem? Are there – are more problems about this or more angles to look at this problem?
For example, one’s outlook on it. Maybe that’s what we all probably, all worldwide, is seeing right now. And I’m seeing here definitely is kind of gaps in – in offers or gaps in products that are available for the people and at the same time. Time. Be those gaps. We see here are sharp, sharp rise – rise of prices. Now. If you want me to put this on – on the timeline of events, in terms of where are we right now. On that timeline, if you’re talking of some big event, we can say that we are, yes, we are at the beginning of this a shortage problem.
We are at the beginning but do not forget that this this event when they are talking about shortage of goods does not necessarily need to go on the same pace. Is baseball Yes. Yes, same pace, all the way down to the to the complete absence of goods. What I trying to say here, you can – you can see, as I see right now, gaps or in some products, or some products you cannot really find. And that doesn’t look too problematic for you. Because I’ll give you an example right now.
Oh, I cannot find some particular brand of coffee right now here. But that doesn’t – that’s not really a big problem, because there are a whole bunch of products, other coffee brands, but that timeline of between missing some brands of coffee and moment – of moment when there is no coffee at all. Any brand of coffee available does not need to go at same pace. Because there can be period of one month when there is no available that particular brand of coffee. And then in three days, there is no coffee at all available.
Take months to get here. But it could take weeks or days for it to get significantly more problematic.
Yes, yes. So what I’m trying to say here, not being able to buy a particular brand of coffee or your brand of coffee. It is sign it is nothing really, really bad. I mean, you are going to survive. Of course, that’s not catastrophic. But always keep in mind that – that pace in the shortage of good events does not need to go at same pace all the time.
So at the same time, not being able to buy a particular brand of coffee is bad sign because it is obviously sign that something is wrong in that really complicated systems of delivering goods? Because it is – it is something is wrong.
Yeah, because – because there’s an absence where previously there was not one. And yeah, I just want to reiterate that the key phrase you use when we look at baseline and baseline shifts is the absence of the normal or the presence of the abnormal. And so here, we’ve got an absence of the normal. Normally, you could just go buy that brand coffee, that brand toilet rolls, that brand laundry detergent. And now it’s not that there isn’t a choice, but the choice is limited. Or your specific sort of favorite ones, not there. It’s the absence of the normal.
And I just want to say on top of that, and it was interesting to use the word that gaps or holes in supplies at the beginning there, I think it was end of October, November last year 2021 that we put out a little bit of content on ingenious methods being used to kind of mask the holes on the shelves in different supermarkets of tune. Including sort of color printouts of the product that sort of just look like it was there.
Now, I don’t know about you. But for me, what I’ve noticed since the new year is and it’s funny looking at it from the instructor viewpoint of managing your students expectations on what’s going to happen. I’m now seeing gaps on the shelves, and there’s no attempt to cover it up. It’s a gap. It’s a big hole, or it’s a big empty shelf. And when I’m speaking to the staff about that, they’re just like, “Yeah, the display – it’s coming in next week. I’m not too sure. You know, maybe it’s on the next delivery.” It’s almost that like, manage getting used to the idea that as you come in this shop, or this store this facility. Yeah, there can just be gaps.
And we can tell you, it’s gone. And we don’t know when it’s coming back. How is it your side of things? I know, I know, in the US, it’s sort of similar as people engaging the store stuff. I’m just kind of curious as we kind of reach around the globe. Yes. What’s happening with you?
Yes. Oh, I would say it is not the same. It is similar because here there are less gaps, but they are here, or gaps are less problem. Less a problem. A bigger problem, much bigger problem here. Oh, price is going really sharply up. So yes, there are gaps but not like, for example, at your place. Not really. But prices here really going sharp up. Let me just add one more thing. Because I use coffee as an example. Because yeah, as I mentioned many times before, coffee here is really important for people. So what’s the problem why there is no particular brand of coffee because I actually tried to discover why there is not my brand of coffee here or that particular brand of coffee.
And the reason is very simple. And that reason is actually a sign of something. Oh, problem is simple. Simply, in fact, that for a manufacturer it is not – they cannot ship it here because prices are too sharp there. They’re not – they cannot sell it here at that price. And that’s it. That’s around it. A shipping is not problem. There are ways – there are means they are everything. But prices of that – shipping prices are producing prices of everything going so sharply off that nobody going to – would buy that price. And that’s it. So that – that’s the another I would call it sign a how things might go up.
So not necessary. We do not have to see necessarily, like some events in terms of violence, like race are shut down. There is no transport because of violence or whatever. Economic situations change things worldwide, that simply some goods are not going to be selling at your place. Because as I mentioned many times before, world is going to fragmentation more, and everything is going to be more local if that makes sense to you.
Yeah. And it can be either it’s not available for sale by you because there’s just not a price point, they feel the market could tolerate, or it’s there, and you can’t afford it. The price is going up to a point you’re sort of thinking, “I’m not gonna pay that much for that product anymore.” So, and it’s true what you’re saying, you know. This is the global phenomena, the inflation, of course, which in part stems from poor COVID policy. Largely, but not solely.
Let’s not go into the detail of why we’ve got the situation that we’ve got because that’s not the point of this discussion. But um, and we’re seeing the same here as well. I mean, interesting, the IKEA obviously one of the most anonymous Swedish brands, very quietly on the second of January, just put an announcement out saying they’re just doing 9% across the board. Price range, price raise in everything in quarter one. There’s no, “Oh, this comes from here, this price might go up a little bit we’re trying.” They’re just like, “No, yeah, our costs have gone up across the board, transport, shipping, fuel – everything. So he’s going to be arbitrary 9% from now, and more is coming.” And so as you look at the sort of industry-specific articles, those announcements and are coming of like, “Yeah, expect to pay more and get less.”
So, as the two points that you made, there’s actually either price point sensitivity, so things aren’t going to be supplied, or an actual shortage of supply. And you’re seeing that as the end user as the gaps in there. And not just the supermarket. This can be the car dealership, or the spare parts store, or you know, a variety of things isn’t just about food. Certainly, it’s about petroleum-based products as well, we’ve seen the second effect, the inflationary effects of those prices going up significantly. But then the third, we’ve got you some – there is now an especially at the moment in the Omicron wave, obviously, where people are testing positive and having to go into quarantine is now one of the supplies is actually in staff.
So it could even be you’ve got the delivery at the back of the store. And there’s literally just not enough people to actually get it onto the shelves. So that – so the end consumer can buy it. Amongst other things. Again, it’s not about supermarkets, this is about pharmacies, this is about the medical sector. Which is starting to get hit very hard, and it’s going to get worse. And so now it’s shortage of personnel and or competence under specialization associated with that.
Because you know, as much as you want to be derogatory is that anybody can stack shelves, actually, in a modern-day supermarket, it’s quite a complex process. Because of how much computerization is around it. It’s not just putting a cat on a shelf, there’s a lot more that goes around in the inventory and warehousing process around that. Let alone if you’re moving into pharmacy and doctors. And then wider to farmers vets, whatever the case may be. So just thoughts on that.
I see this, you mentioned this whole thing about Omicron – I always mentioned that – that serious, serious event may go or usually will go for us in these modern times, as a combination of a long periods of bad, bad events that you actually have right now. Combined with some sudden, catastrophic event or push that will push everything over the over the brink to chaos.
And actually, this whole Omicron, I believe have – have kind of potential for that. I’m not saying that people will be unable to perform their duties because they are going to be very sick. I don’t know how bad that – that’s going to be or how bad they’re going to be sick. But even bad, bad policy about our sick or not or are we are able to work or not can bring us to the moment that a whole bunch of important services are not working. And at the moment when -when people who decide about big stuff at that at the moment where they realize that it is so bad that – that service is not working a whole chain of events can be pushed over the edge. If that makes sense.
So we do not need to have an event of some serious virus that is mortality rate like 50 – 60% No, we just need to have enough of people out of the service for certain amount of time. So that services are gone, or at the same time, or end at the same time a whole bunch of people are angry because of that. So we can have chaos on the street. All this can sound like – like not so logical for you. But if you think – if you think for real for some for some time, you can see logic over there. Again, we do not necessarily have a need to have some very wild event to start the chain of events that start, start off chain of events can be many people not able to perform their duties on some important services.
And I think we can kind of see that as it has the potential to go one of two ways to just oversimplify it for a better word is denial of service either leads to panic, or anger. And neither one of which is good. And one can trigger the other right says sort of people are sort of philosophical. Yes, people off sick, okay, we’ve been primed. It’s going to be a few days or a couple of weeks like this. All right, no worries. Everybody be civil go to the shops. Oh, okay. Now there’s rationing, we can only buy a certain amount of stuff that happened before in lockdown. Until there’s that panic buy. Right now. Everything’s good. And now people, right?
I’m trying to say here, actually, I’m sorry. A bit paradoxical is that the correct word is I’m saying that we can have event, very closing time where everything is stopped to working. And it is stopped to work because of not some catastrophic event? Only because – because important services are stopped to work.
And that started that chain event of fear. Yes. Let me give you example, if you chose to choke the hospital system and you have sick kids, what you going to do? I mean, you are going to be angry, you are going to ask for – for service to your kid. Or if police service is kind of out of the service. What you’re going to do to have? You’re going to have chaos. So out of order to put it like this out of not so huge problem, we might – we might have a huge problem, if this makes sense.
(For information on how to prepare for such a problem, check out our free QUICKSTART Guide on building your 3-layer food storage plan.)
And I think the important thing to know, here at this timestamp, is it’s not that we’re starting cold. It’s not that we’re in this calm, measured society, where they’re going to be reasonable about these things. We’re two years into a lot of frustration, a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety, a lot of negativity. Let’s just put it like that.
I don’t – I don’t know that many people that are feeling good right now and can’t remember the last time they felt good, actually. A lot of people are just hanging on. And so they’re already quite a lot of angst in them. So that transition to anger is going to be much shorter, and much more powerful. Because it might be that you know, your brand of coffee is out the thing that gets you upset. And then two years of raw emotion is what’s going to pour out in the moment, potentially. And then it starts to get quite intimidating, does it not?
Oh, you have whole bunch of folks that are do not have a job anymore. A whole bunch of folks that do not own the home anymore, or they’re separated families because of a combination of those things. So yes, we are not starting with this cold. We have a whole bunch of peoples who are – what is the word – fed up? Yes. And fed up with everything. If you throw match, over there. It is going to light much, much more than if you throw it – throw match into site where most of the people are working, having jobs having houses, you know, so yeah.
Okay, so as always, it’s not the most cheerful conversation that we have. And but we’re all about being aware and being actionable on things like this. And so first of all the awareness is the key thing why we’re talking about this today. Is is to accept, as we’ve said before, accept what’s in front of you, as you’re going into your supermarket. As you’re out and about. Look at the reality of the situation. Are you seeing the supply shortages? And to what extent? And how much tension? And how much friction? Are you seeing? Because you want to get ahead of that curve. So we would like to think people obviously already have a sensible amount of supplies in and our benchmark figure is two to three weeks of supplies that you can literally close the door and not leave your home for anything within that three week period.
If you haven’t got that, we’d recommend you start to move towards that as quickly as you can. And if you have got that possibly top it up with some additional things, especially on the difficult-to-get items like pharmaceuticals, as we spoke about before, but above and beyond. That sort of what is now quite generic advice from us. Have you got anything specific for us?
Actually, I do, and it is kinda again mental thing to advise you because up to now, you should have your all of your basics covered. And my other advice would be go back to the basics. So my advice here is yes, we are – this conversation is not – not really cheerful, but actually what is our job here? What, what we are doing here? We are talking about very bad possibilities and how to cope, work and survive all those bad possibilities and continue to live.
So at the end, if you think bit more about what is all – all about. All of this conversation and all survival anyway, what is all about. It is about continuation of your life as normal as it is possible. So at the end, it is cheerful, cheerful conversation? Why? Because to stick your hand, head into the sand. If that is the expression. Is not really good advice. You need to observe around yourself to have enough information to solve and to work and to cope with – with that new situation.
So advice, yeah, do not stick your hand, head, sorry, into the sand. But do not be desperate, I mean, people survived much worse things than these things that we are into right now. And again, we are talking about possibilities and how to be ready for those possibilities. If those possibilities are going to happen.
Absolutely. And I’ll just add one thing to that. We’re huge advocates, of course, training in certain skills before you need them. Because when you actually need them, that’s not the time to train. You on have those confidence and skills. And something we talked about periodically is social engineering. That ability to kind of interact with people. Especially in slightly more challenging situations. So what I would encourage people to do as a sort of, as a practice, or something. As you’re out and about in shopping, and you see these gaps in supply, using this opportunity to engage with the staff and not be like, “What’s going on, you know, why is there a gap?”
You try to elicit as much information from the staff about the actuality of the situation. It might just be there’s one missed delivery, and by the next day, it’s going to be all filled up, and there’s nothing to worry about? Well, the staff might be like, “Yeah, you know, we had a memo of med office last week. And they were sort of saying that this is just the beginning. And now the next 12 weeks, they expect it to get a lot worse.” So you know, try to be that personable person work with empathy and concern and elicit that information because that ability to extract information whilst giving minimal information away is an absolute, foundational cornerstone of your teaching practice, right?
That ability to get information without giving information away or manage the information flow till you receive more than you give is essential. And this is sort of an almost perfect training opportunity around that because the worst case is a staff say like, “Oh sir, ma’am, I’m sorry, I don’t know.” And you go, “Oh, okay. Thanks anyway,” and you walk away, but you might actually end up with some nuggets of information.
Here’s the – here’s actually two advice that come from – from your story right now. And in all our advice we always mentioned these two advices. First, one is observe, observe, always look around you and observe. That does not necessarily mean that you need to crawl to the bush and look for the ninjas. Know, as you as you go to your local supermarket, just observe what stuff is missing or from what region, regions stuff is missing. Just look normal look, normal alteration of things around you. It is everywhere, it should be your everyday life.
Second advice is to connect with people or grow your network. If you have, or if you aim to have special ops or for a friend, it’s good, it’s a good cause. But aim for the people locally for the people that can help you on the other way that doesn’t necessarily need to be a black ops guy. Or someone that can be a guy from the local supermarket, who can give you also great information. So connect to people. Grow your own network. Again, that network does not necessarily have to be all about counts. For example. It can be a clerk in local supermarket or nursing local hospital. There are many examples.
Great, absolutely perfect. And I think that sort of sums it nicely that you know whilst we hope the supply chain interruption and staffing shortage is temporary. Always be prepared for the fact. Well, it might go longer than you expect, or worse. And so that networking is always got value. Because okay, if in a week or two everything, you know, goes back to how it was previously as Intel into the last year. All right, no harm, no foul. However, if it doesn’t, and especially if your money’s not going as far anymore, being closer to that supply source. Can you buy it direct from the farmer instead of via the supermarket? Where everybody’s put their percentage and margins in there? That’s the way to go.
And that’s certainly something I’ve been actively engaged in the last three or four years, even previous the pandemic is looking exactly like you say. Not, not just all about the firearms, because that’s only a small part of the overall picture. It is about sourcing the food, sourcing the medicine, sourcing the water, sourcing all that other stuff across the other seven pillars, it’s so essential. And really, the personal safety is just being able to protect those resources and extremists’ side.
So, yeah, I really liked what you said there. And that humble clerk on the checkout at the supermarket probably knows a lot more about the specific problems than you do. So shouldn’t be dismissed as irrelevant in this circumstance at all. If I make a point of being exceptionally pleasant to the supermarket staff. One, because I just think it’s a tough job, and they deserve some pleasant to you in that sort of, you know, day-to-day working routine. And also, then if I have got that question, they’re far more likely inclined to answer it. Because it’s like, “Oh, Toby is a nice guy. He’s always pleasant. He’s looking for something specific today. And no, we don’t have that. And we’re not gonna have it for a while. But I don’t mind telling him that instead of sort of mugging him off with some other answer, or just basically shrugging my shoulders and saying, “I don’t know.”
I mean, know how informative let me give you example how valuable information can be. If somebody call you on the phone or send you a text message with information that in his store, there were no trucks with goods coming for last three days, and there are no signs of coming in. In the future. It can be very detrimental, or it can be very, very valuable information.
Because again, you’re in that time window to be like that, I’m going to get myself down to the supermarket. And yes, gain or No, again, using your previous example from a while ago, as everybody panics at the supermarket. You’re already at the pharmacy, knowing what’s coming next. But that’s the more important thing. Of course, not to join the mob. Oh, there’s no delivery to the supermarkets like now once the supermarket had been hit. What’s coming next? So focus on those priority issues. Because you already got your bases covered over here.
Yep. I mean, that is why you are networking with people. It’s simple to be ahead of the majority of the people. That it – it’s very simple, and vice versa, are sold on that way. In survival. You need to be ahead of majority people around you. And that’s it. And is it over-simplified? Yes. Is a true? Yes. Yeah.
I think as well, just as a final conclusion, point for me, and then to you. It’s also vital to have information. If you’re just constantly receiving, you’re not any use to anyone. All you’re doing is causing – asking for information. So you want to try and position yourself to also have useful information. So of course, you know, you might message the guy at the store first be like, “Hey, did you know be aware that x y z,” and he’s like, “Thanks, by the way, in reciprocation, there hasn’t been any trucks for last couple of days, you know,” there’s an exchange in this process. It’s not all assume I’m in a client telling course. It’s very much a back and forth. Maybe you can expand on that slightly.
Of course, it is very basic networking, and it works like that in, in regular everyday life. I mean, if you want to grow some kind of network with man or friendship, or, or have to have a certain level of, of trust. Let’s say trust, yes, you need that exchange of information. Need to go in both ways. Because if it goes in one way only, it will end up show or very soon. Or there – there is a – there is a real reason behind all of that. And that reason might not – doesn’t have to be necessarily good reasons why you are being provided with that information. It needs to go in both way. Both ways.
Perfect. I think we’ve covered a huge amount there, which is what we aim to do in a relatively short period of time. And we’ve given folks some actionable points, which is the most important thing. My viewpoint is not just turn up as a thundercloud rain on people and disappear. It’s always about acknowledging the situation being observational, sharing some insights, and thoughts, and ideas. Any final words from you before we conclude this particular part?
Yes, I need to add one more thing that I mention quite often. But, in these times, it needs to be mentioned again. Do not mix these two terms: one word is necessity, and other words is luxury. These two words come – come in very handy in these days. Now it is – it may be time to think of what is really necessary, and what is kind of not luxury, but what is becoming a luxury. Because, again, one example, if you like to eat meat every day. Maybe it is becoming luxury, it is very limited, really rudimentary example. But you get my point here.
That’s a great point, you know, something that was so affordable, you could eat every day now is moving to the category. Either it’s unavailable or unaffordable to eat with that frequency. But that doesn’t mean you’re dying or starving by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just a luxury category. And manage your expectations accordingly, in terms of managing your diet around that.
Doesn’t even have to be about food. It can go with everything with anything.
Yeah, I mean, I’ll be honest with you that the fuel prices here have got so brutal, I’m just managing myself on that have, you know, previously. If I had some time, it’s a beautiful landscape, I just kind of drive around, aimlessly, but cover some good distance to go visit some spots I really like, and now I’m sort of questioning myself. Is that journey necessary?
You know, like, kind of almost reckon in your mind? How much fuel? And what’s the cost of that? Isn’t there somewhere a little bit nearby you’d like to go when you ride the bike, or ski or snowmobile instead of taking the car? You know, like, start to reckon that out. So it’s not giving up those habits, but it’s just starting to put that overlay of well as there’s a cost to this activity that wasn’t there previously. Is it still got that value to you to participate in activity at this new price point? Should we say.
There’s nothing that’s – that’s inflationary terms, isn’t it is you need to now invest your money wisely. Not just give out your steaks doubled in price. I guess we pay more now. Well, what do you hear? What are you then are not buying? If – if your budget switched over there? So it’s, yeah, it’s a serious point to consider quite simply.
Yes, because the point is, is do not be stubborn with be trying to keep your old habits and old way of life in this new situation. Try to adapt yourself to the new situation, not situation to you, but adapt yourself to the situation. Example again, use more bike than car whenever you can. That’s the update adapting to the situation because you can use that money in some better way maybe. It is – it will be probably – it will be more and more experienced, more serious, experience to consider.
Sadly, I agree. Okay. Selco, thank you so much for your time. Again, please let us know your thoughts in the comments. Especially what are you seeing in your area? Is everything fully stocked? No problems… fully staffed, or are you starting to see some issues? Are you starting to see some concerns? Are you starting to see people talking about these concerns? Either directly to you or within the social media around you? Things like that. What we identified here is not only resource but central collection points that people from all over the world can kind of share their stories. And we can all learn from each other as we go. So please get involved in the comments down below as you see fit. And Selco once again. Thank you so much for your time.
What do you think?
What are your thoughts about this advice offered from a European perspective? Do you find it applicable to our current situation? What advice would you add? Let’s discuss it in the comments.
Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution.
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