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How much is that zombie in the window?

Friday, February 8th, 2013 | Posted by

Robert Moench, co-owner of the Plan B Survival Store on the Windsor Town Green. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

By JAMES LANARAS / Windsor Correspondent

Robert and Triccia Moench’s business Plan A in 2011 was a pizza or sandwich restaurant franchise. Instead, the Windsor couple decided to open the Plan B Survival Store on the Town Green.

It’s the shop with the chemical zombie rising out of a bucket in the front window.

“Plan A is what you’re doing every day right now, like going to work,” said Moench, 38. “Plan B is emergency preparedness.”

During his years in the Army between 2001 and 2006, his expertise was microwave and radar systems. He was in Iraq in 2005, where he “had some close calls” that got him interested in proper protection equipment.

After the Army, Moench worked for an aviation company in Arkansas, specializing in electronics and computers in the cockpits of MD 11 and DC 10 trans-Atlantic commercial airliners. When the company went out of business, he moved to Santa Rosa in 2006, and since then has worked as a government technician.

He and Triccia got the idea to open an emergency and disaster preparedness supply store in 2011. They saved some money and last June opened the Plan B Survival Store.

“We have about $25,000-$30,000 invested in it. The business is paying for itself right now,” Moench said. “Floods, earthquakes, natural disasters and power outages are our main concerns.”

They stock dozens and dozens of items essential to surviving any type of emergency: cans of dehydrated food (including blueberry cheesecake) that serve between 10 and 20 people and last 25 years ($17-$45); drinking water in pouches of various sizes that last five years; water storage containers ($19-$22); tents that serve as private latrines and showers ($50-$70); yellow bucket kits ($44-$67) with a 3-day supply of food and water, blankets and first aid supplies for one to four users that, when empty, also serve as a toilet; school lockdown kits ($80) with food and water for 30 students for one day and other items that help administrators during a crisis; gas masks ($30-$45); radiation pills; backpacks to build your own survival kit($14-$23); hand-cranked flashlights that don’t need batteries or electricity (as low as $2), and plenty more.

Plan B makes assembling a personal or family emergency survival kit easy by offering a 10-week plan. Each week you spend $10 on items that include food, water, a crank-type portable radio, crank or battery operated flashlight, first aid kit, lanterns, fuel and batteries, a grill and a hygiene kit.

The pamphlet promises, “In 10 weeks following this plan, your family will have gone from woefully unready to started down the path to preparedness and self-reliance, and you’ll barely miss your gradual $100 investment.”

“It’s hard to get everything you need from one store like this,” said Moench. “Most survival stores like this are in Utah.”


What’s in the Moenschs’ survival kit?

Robert Moench and his wife Triccia have all the essential items in their emergency preparedness kit:  food, water, flashlight, batteries, blankets and a radio.  They also have what he calls “a bug-out” or “get out of Dodge” bag in the event of a devastating earthquake or situation that requires imposing martial law.

“We would head northeast to a wooded area,” Moench said. “In three days, the grocery stores will be out of food. That’s when the looting would start.”

The bug-out bag has three days’ supply of food and water,  radio, blankets, flashlights and batteries and changes of clothing’ especially socks. They’ll be packing four pairs each, Robert said.

For about $150, Plan B sells a survival  backpack that contains 107 items  intended to last three days.


When the tropical storm Sandy hit the New York metropolitan area in October, people sent supplies from Plan B to the affected areas.

One thing you won’t find in the Plan B Survival Store is guns.

“We didn’t want to go that route, having guns in the store,” Moench said. “We don’t want to bother with the background checks. Some people have told us they won’t buy anything here if we sell guns.”

Nor does Plan B sell protection gear or clothing other than gas masks, goggles, gloves and a tactical vest in which hunters can store ammunition.

The store has 7 to 10 suppliers, so what you don’t find in stock can be ordered, including generators. The store has access to the suppliers’ catalogs of military surplus items available.

For anyone interested in owning the camouflage Army uniforms worn in Iraq, for example — thicker for winter and more porous but with sun protection for summer — Moench can special order them.

Plan B’s customers are people who want to be prepared for earthquakes and power outages, he said. Many come from the Russian River area in Guerneville to be prepared when flooding is expected.

And occasionally someone with apocalyptic concerns ventures into the store.

“Our feeling is that we don’t believe anything is going to happen,” Moench said. “We don’t want to scare people into buying stuff. This store is in case of a natural disaster, everything from solar flares and electromagnetic pulses that can take out softer electronics to a fly pandemic.”

Inside the store, the zombie theme includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic” comic strip and paper shooting targets with colorful, artistic drawings of zombies.

“We use the zombie theme to get younger people interested in survival and to make it fun for the customers,” Moench said.

The couple designed the store’s red, white and gray logo, a shield that contains a cross and the symbols for chemical, nuclear and biological hazards.

“A lot of people rely on the government, police and fire departments to help them,” Moench said. “But during an emergency, they will get overwhelmed, and it may be days before they get to you.

“Like someone once told me, it’s better to have an emergency preparedness kit and not use it than to not have a kit and need it.”

The Plan B Survival Store is located at 513 David Clayton Lane in Windsor. 837-5681, plan-b-survival.com.


Writer Spotlight

James Lanaras is our Windsor correspondent.
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