Scott Harper’s hobby is insurance, but not the kind that protects your home, car or health. His insurance is emergency preparedness. And he’s found an opportunity to help other Oklahomans in the metro area get prepared for disasters.
“I was born and raised here, and I want other Oklahomans to know and feel confident they can withstand a disaster,” he told The Journal Record.
Just weeks after the largest tornadoes in the state’s history ripped through central Oklahoma in May 2013, Harper found his chance. A friend knew a group of Oklahoma City-based investors who were preparing their homes for the spring weather and realized there isn’t a single store that sells everything needed for a disaster.
The goal was to create a one-stop shop for emergency-preparedness supplies, but without the feel of a military surplus store. So Harper and a friend traveled the country, looking at similar stores, attending trade shows, and trying out products for their store, Homestand Preparation Station.
The investors, who didn’t wish to be named, paid for travel expenses, the construction costs to design the store, and the cost for the design group, Funnel Design Group, to create a website, branding and logos.
Harper found stores in Utah that had the look and feel that appealed to the concept. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints promote emergency preparedness, so he found several Utah-based businesses that had quality products, he said. Homestand stocks products from Legacy Foods, a Utah-based freeze-dried food company, for meal ingredients.
The store, located at 2850 NW 63rd St. in Oklahoma City, is organized in a loop style so that customers can create their own customized kits.
Backpacks and bags are near the door, with water and food nearby. Lights, batteries, whistles, sirens and tools are near the registers. The goal is to help people get prepared, and provide high-quality items that might not be available in all-in-one kits sold online.
Many emergency supply stores Harper visited around the country had the feel of apocalypse survival. Instead, Harper said he wanted to create a family-friendly environment, in which mothers and children felt welcome.
David Grizzle, emergency management coordinator for the city of Norman, agreed. He said residents are turned off of the idea of preparing kits because they don’t like the idea of a long-term disaster situation.
Grizzle said many Norman residents are well-prepared for disasters, in part because there have been so many. In addition, his office regularly holds preparedness events with literature, checklists and items that may not be as obvious, but are critical when disaster strikes.
One benefit of the Homestand store is the ability to build a custom kit, he said. Families should create customized kits so they can include specialized items such as medication and prescription lenses, as well as toys for children or dogs.
Harper said about 150 people visited the store in the first three days after it recently opened. Though there isn’t a single thing people are asking for, he said the most common items people buy are weather radios and Life Straw, a water filtration device.
Harper, who enjoys camping and spending time outdoors, said many of the supplies can be used for recreation as well.
“I like to think practically about this when it comes to emergency preparedness,” he said. “Whether it is a tornado, an ice storm, being stuck in your car or a power outage, the appeal fits for real-life disasters.”