Michael Crea started the Sarasota store "Survive Anything" three years ago. At first, it was just an internet shop selling survival and camping gear, but the local demand caused him to open a store.
Now, Crea is expanding upon that and moving into another storefront.
"We just need a bigger store, and more classroom space," Crea said.
Crea's shop is no stranger to "preppers," or people who gather supplies, food, and training in order to survive disasters like hurricanes, civil unrest, and even the so-called end of days.
It sounds like an outlandish idea to some, but Crea calls it human instinct at work.
"People say they're crazy, but those are going to be the first people knocking on your door when they don't have any food left," Crea said. "You look at what happened in New York. Hurricane Sandy came through and wiped them all out, and they had no food for a while. Everyone says it'll never happen, and it happened in one of the biggest cities in the world."
Crea sees the case of Valrico prepper Martin Howard Winters as an extreme case of prepping. Winters is the subject of an FBI manhunt, wanted for allegedly making and collecting illegal destructive devices.
According to Crea, the member of the group called the "River Otter Preppers" is not an accurate representation of preppers overall.
"They're ex-military. They're random people that have office jobs. They are people who are cooks, that are service personnel. They're just people who want to be prepared in case something does happen," Crea said.
Online, there are several Tampa-based blogs, forums, and videos, geared towards letting local preppers meet, discuss, and share ideas, and also band together in case of disasters, which Crea sees as a positive sign.
"Nobody else is going to take care of you except your friends and the people living around you," said Crea. "If the government falls apart, the government can't help you, but your neighbors will."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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