By Isobel Steenrod

Located near Rudy’s BBQ along Highway 24, the Colorado Zombie Outpost is no hole-in-the-wall kind of place you might stumble upon. The motto, “If you’re prepared for zombies, you’re prepared for anything,” is emblazoned on the windows in red letters, alongside “Knives and Swords!” in neon green. It is both welcoming and extremely off putting. 

Photo by Daniel Sarché

The Colorado Zombie Outpost is run by John Quatkemeyer and Pearre Cabell. The small store is full of survival paraphernalia: books, prepackaged food, and a popular purchase, mylar sheets that function like full-body tinfoil hats. They also sell candles made of soybean oil that can burn overnight in a semi-enclosed space without releasing toxic chemicals into the air. The counters are lined with an assortment of knives, and while the outpost doesn’t sell guns, they do offer concealed carry classes. 

Preppers, as they call themselves, are the people who are preparing for a change in society, whether it be natural disaster, civil unrest, or even zombies. The internet is full of websites and forums with articles like “15 toilet paper alternatives,” “How to raise chickens,” and “Civil War preparedness: part 1.” The internet is a tool through which preppers can connect and share advice, but brick and mortar stores like Colorado Zombie Outpost are a real-world place for preppers to meet. 

Quatkemeyer and Cabell have known each other for the past 30 years, and they opened Colorado Zombie Outpost in 2015. They work together in the construction business, but plan on Colorado Zombie Outpost as a way to retire. The customers of the outpost range from “crazies” to people looking for a first-aid kit before they go on a hike. 

Business spikes around election time, as people on both sides of the political spectrum get scared that if the opposing party is elected, their lives will change dramatically. Quatkemeyer expects this next election year to be big for sales, as the country is so divided right now. 

Most of the customers are not extreme preppers, but Quatkemeyer and Cabell are. Cabell carries a “bug-out bag” full of all the tools he might need when Shit Hits the Fan (in the prepper community, abbreviated to SHTF). His bag contains a full first-aid kit, a gas mask, a knife, an axe, and anything else he thinks he needs to get home to his wife and kids in a worst-case scenario. Cabell’s plans also include retreating to the hills to one of two fully stocked remote locations, while Quatkemeyer plans to stay in the city. 

Cabell wants people to be prepared for disaster, “whatever your zombie may be.” As for Cabell, the Waldo Canyon Fire of 2012 burned down 300 homes in his parents’ neighborhood, and they had to get out immediately — that was their “zombie.” Cabell strongly recommends being prepared for a disaster and is willing to educate as many people as possible so no one is helpless. 

So, how prepared are you?  

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