Pinon knows "survival" is a loaded concept, freighted with not only political connotations but various goofball ones. The threats her store is equipped to deal with "could be anything--as absurd as zombies, EMP [electromagnetic pulse], or financial crisis, to just the [heat wave] we had this summer where people didn't have electricity for three days. Zombies are not a major concern of mine. We're a little tongue-in-cheek on the zombies and EMP, but, well, maybe not so much on the financial crisis." In October, the zombies were perhaps having more of an airing than usual--gruesome rubber zombies are popular year-round for target practice, but they also make good Halloween window dressing.
On the preparedness front, the back half of the store looks a good deal like REI, with water filtration systems, hand warmers, glow sticks, flashlights, emergency blankets, compasses, freeze-dried food, and many-pocketed clothing. And crossing into Sons of Anarchy territory, a large selection of Buffs, that versatile tubular head- and neckwear favored by the show's outlaw cyclists. But "the rifles and shotguns we carry are designed for home defense use," says Thompson, "rather than sporting use."
"They look scarier than they are," says Holli, noting that the weapons are semi-, rather than fully, automatic--they fire one shot each time the trigger is pulled. But unmellowed by polished wood or even graceful arabesques of forged steel, models like the "Black Rain Ordnance AR 15" sure do look scary. Made mostly of black polymer, often with hollow, triangular stocks and pistol grips, they could have come straight out of a war-themed video game.