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The Big Business of Doomsday: It’s gonna be loud and scary and ugly and you’re gonna need your check

The Judeo-Christian Bible tells us that the end of the world will come “like a thief in the night” and that even though we may not know the exact time, we had better be prepared.

The Mayans, on the other hand, left us a calendar that ominously ends on December 21st, 2012, seemingly predicting the end of the world. Although most scientists categorically state that there is no evidence whatsoever of any cataclysmic disaster occurring on that date, there is no shortage of clever entrepreneurs ready to cash in on the chaos.

What follows is a look at just some of the items you may need if and when that doomsday comes (and just like your grandmother said, be sure you have on a clean pair of underwear)


When aliens fly overhead and a God-like voice fills the air telling us that “resistance is futile” you’ll definitely want an all-inclusive underground shelter in which to hide until the surface war is good and played out, and there aren’t all that many around when you consider the 312-some-odd million people in the country, so this is a case where the early bird catches the worm.

The shelters most talked about are of the ritzy variety: first class accommodations with lots of bells and whistles, but ritzy’s gonna cost you: Northwest Shelter Systems offers models ranging from $200,000 to $20 million, and even in the midst of a struggling economy, sales surged 70% following the 2011 Japanese earthquake.

Vivos, a company that sells rooms in 200-person underground bunkers beneath the grasslands of Nebraska, also saw a spike in sales last year of almost 1000%.  Their version is a 137,000 square foot compound.  That’s bigger than the average Wal-Mart and is designed to house 950 people for up to one year. It has four levels of individual suites, a medical and dental center, kitchens, a bakery, prayer room, computer area, pool tables, pet kennels, a fully stocked wine cellar and a detention center to place anyone who turns violent (Ever read, Lord of the Flies? Good luck with that one).

Given that your money only buys you one year of survival below the earth’s surface, I asked the Vivos Group what happens if the world is still uninhabitable after that time. Barbi Grossman, Media Representative for the group, said: “Our owners will do the best they can to survive with whatever conditions exist.  What will those on the surface do, when they have nowhere to hide and don’t get the opportunity to at least return to the surface to see if it is inhabitable?”

At least you can take solace in the fact that while you’re happily ensconced below the earth, you won’t miss out on the action above ground, either. You and the other currently 10,000 plus Vivos members can watch the apocalyptic action from the comfort of your 350-foot fortified lookout tower. And no matter what’s going on out there, your Vivos hide-away will be able to withstand a 50 megaton blast, so sleep well, Americans.

The price isn’t bad, either. Compared to the six-figure-plus price tag of some luxury bunkers, Vivos membership is a modest $35,000 with $5,000 down. But don’t think they hand out memberships to just any schmuck with a checkbook: There’s a rigorous selection process that includes how the talents and backgrounds of applicants would best contribute to the “long-term survival of the group.”

For those of us with a more modest wallet or who simply don’t charm the selection committee, there is hope: Just like airline tickets, doomsday housing comes in economy class, too. For $9,950 and a mere $2,500 down, you can own a piece of the Terra Vivos 1000, which will be scaled down to the bare necessities.

The Vivos-1000 will be 100,000 square feet and will fit 1,000 people. The savings comes from squeezing four beds into each room and replacing walls with patrician curtains. Unlike the pricier model, Vivos-1000 will only be able to withstand a 20-megaton nuclear blast within six miles, and the scaled-down model only allows residents six months of “autonomous” survival, while the luxury bunkers provide survival for up to a year (What do you expect for ten grand – immortality?)

To get you into the doomsday shopping mood, the Vivos homepage shows a video with all the slick production quality of a major disaster film: ominous music drones on like a chorus of sad angels as scenes of destruction play out: a fiery asteroid plummets to earth, landing in an explosion and a peacefully spinning earth is slowly swallowed by the sun (but relax, you have an underground shelter?)  “Time may be running out,” the voice in the video tells us, “The risks are all around us. What has the government been preparing for? Will there be another life extinction event?”

Then they say, “When disaster strikes, ask yourself: which side of the door do you want to be on?” (Personally I want to be on the side with the fully stocked bar).

There’s also a handy doomsday clock counting down to something bad, but exactly what is unclear. As of this writing the clock was counting down from 333 days, 1 hour, 14 minutes and 19 seconds, whatever that means…

If a luxury underground Club Med isn’t your idea of survival, you can go it alone and brave the frontier. Like Tom Cruise, you can leap from the crumbling Golden Gate bridge and outrun that mushroom cloud, but you’re going to have do it while carrying a lot of stuff, and that, too, is gonna cost you:


Survival gear is big business. You’ll probably need a whole host of items from companies like Disaster Necessities and SOS Products, or where you can get food storage supplies, pet emergency kits, 72-hour camping and survival gear, water storage containers, first-aid kits, emergency lighting and auto tools, and more. Even wants to cash in on the doomsday craze; they currently host 440 products having to do with the apocalypse.

One theme I’ve noticed is how almost all of the doomsday saviors are in a great big hurry to close the sale. There’s always a sense of urgency. One site opens with videos of apocalyptic disasters and people milling around aimlessly on darkened streets as a sullen voice asks, “Are you ready or unexpected power outages?” Bill Heid’s solar-powered generators claim to get you “off the grid” for today’s super-deep discounted price of only $1,797.00 plus $150.00 shipping anywhere in the continental U.S. Of course that’s only if you act today, or at least very soon, and I do mean soon:

“I said there were a limited number available and I meant it. If I don’t hear from my friends in the patriot movement right away, I’ll be forced to let the general public have the units I set aside for you. I’m going to wait exactly one month before releasing any Solar Generators to outsiders. Please understand how urgent this is. Because of the meltdown, I believe my entire stock will vanish in just a few days. I have no guarantee of getting any more of these units when a crisis hits. Even now… they’re scarce. People are starting to become afraid and aware.”

No pressure there! (I should also mention I first saw that dire warning about five months ago). And as with most of these sites, don’t forget to read the fine print: “all sales are final.”


Articles abound warning us of impending terrorist attacks using biological weapons like viruses, bacteria and other natural agents via our nation’s food, water and agricultural supply.

Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity all push “food insurance” on their radio shows (it kinda makes you wonder what kind of cut they’re getting…)  boasts all kinds of freeze-dried goodies you can feast upon when the world reverts to the Bronze Age: mac-n-cheese, oatmeal, and beef with noodles. The bargain price of $9,799.99 buys you enough food to provide three entrées a day for a family of 5 (2 adults 3 children) for 12 months. And for those folks without an extra $10k lying around, there’s a pay-as-you-go plan.


“You’ve committed your life to Jesus. You know you’re saved.  But when the Rapture comes,

what’s to become of your loving pets that are left behind?   Eternal Earth-Bound Pets takes that burden off your mind.”  The concept here is simple: “Each Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you’ve received your reward.  Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.”

This clever service will cost you $135 for a 10-year contract.  Notable terms include that if a pet dies prior to the rapture, there’s no refund and, “If subscriber loses his/her faith and/or the Rapture occurs and subscriber is not Raptured (aka is “left behind”) EE-BP disclaims any liability; no refund will be tendered.”

Akin to doomsday, the Rapture is also big business and certainly not the concern of those who are Raptured, but what if you missed the boat?, founded by Tom Strandberg, draws 250,000 unique visitors a month and is a “Rapture resource for end of times,” including an article entitled, “Oops, I Guess I Wasn’t Ready! What to do if you missed the rapture.”  Here’s a sneak peek:

“Right now, I’m sure there’s a tremendous battle going on, with people offering various points of view and trying to explain why much of the population has suddenly disappeared into thin air. If you are reading this after the rapture, you need to realize that you have been left behind.”

Well, if the world suddenly falls into utter ruin and you’re still here, at least there are plenty of places to keep shopping.

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