Off the Grid – Business Profile

By: Marissa Willman

April 8, 2012

Word Count: 499



Surrounded by aisles stocked with food rations, boxes of ammunition and weapons ranging from hatchets to crossbows, it’s easy to see the team at Off the Grid Survival Store won’t be taking any chances in an emergency situation.


“We don’t play games,” Off the Grid co-owner Darin Damme said.


The store stands in stark contrast to its neighboring sister store, Out of the Box Gold Store, where Damme and his co-owner Rob Riddlemoser first opened up shop in 2007.


After noticing a trend in customers buying huge amounts of silver and gold due to uncertainty about the economy and the future, Damme said opening a survival store felt like a natural fit.


“An earthquake could change everyone’s lives,” Damme said.


But don’t call him a doom and gloomer—Damme and his team at Off the Grid say they’re just being practical.


“We’re not doomsday preppers,” Damme said. “We’re just normal people who want to be prepared.”


Since Off the Grid opened its doors last December, Damme said the customer response has been overwhelmingly positive. What started as a modest inventory of emergency preparedness kits has expanded to include a variety of survival equipment such as portable solar panels, camping gear, food rations and personal protection items such as stun guns, pepper spray, hatchets and crossbows.


“This store is for everybody from weekend campers to people who want to go completely off the grid,” Damme said. “Our goal is to serve as many customers as we can.”


For those wanting to go completely off the grid, the store carries everything from military-grade packs to cans of seeds and high-calorie food bars. For the weekend survival enthusiast, Off the Grid carries sleeping bags, thermal blankets and solar panel-equipped backpacks that can charge your cell phone or laptop while you hike.


And for those looking for peace of mind in case the big one does hit, the store offers emergency preparedness kits tailored for specific environments such as the home, office or car.

According to Damme, an earthquake could be catastrophic to the valley because, on average, food has to travel about 1300 miles to reach the desert.


“There’s about three days worth of food in the Coachella Valley. If an earthquake hits and the I-10 is impassable, after three days you’re on your own,” Damme said.


He suggested keeping at least a week’s worth of food and water in case of an emergency, or purchasing a pre-made kit that includes other survival supplies such as flashlights, first aid resource and a radio.


“Having an emergency kit gives you time to assess the situation,” Damme said, rather than scavenge for supplies in a panic.


Whether you think the big one is coming or not, Damme suggests getting prepared for an emergency while you can.

“We’re 150 years overdue for an earthquake,” Damme said, adding that there’s a good chance a substantial earthquake could hit the valley in the next 30 years. “Get today what you would need the day after the emergency.”



If you go:

Off the Grid

73-185 Highway 111, Palm Desert


Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sidebar: Survival Essentials

Wondering what basic supplies you need for a well-rounded emergency supply kit? Off the Grid co-owner Darin Damme suggests the following four essentials to get your stockpile started:


  • Food: Whether you decide on canned food items or MREs, Damme recommends keeping 1-2 weeks of food on hand.
  • Water: You’ll need about one gallon of water per person per day in your stockpile, according to Damme. Your survival essentials should either contain a large container of clean water or the means to purify water as needed.
  • Communication: A solar-powered radio allows you to keep updated with the outside world. “You’re going to want to know what’s going on,” Damme said.
  • Protection: Damme suggests choosing a form of personal protection that you’re comfortable with, whether that be pepper spray, a firearm or a strong network of people whom you can rely on after an emergency. Whatever form of protection you choose, Damme stresses the importance of protecting your supplies. “What good are your supplies if someone’s just going to steal them from you?” Damme asked.



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