US-based bomb-shelter manufacturers should maybe think about buying Kim Jong Un a fruit basket.
According to McClatchy, sales have in both the US and Japan have risen dramatically this year as President Donald Trump and Kim have exchanged threats of nuclear annihilation. US and Japanese defense officials now believe the North is in possession of a nuclear warhead small enough to fit onto one of its ICBMS. The isolated country launched three short-range missiles into the East Sea Friday night – its first missile test in nearly a month – after US officials had praised Kim’s restraint earlier in the week.
Ron Hubbard, president of Atlas Survival Shelters, a firm based in Montebello, California, said he expects to sell 1,000 shelters this year at a price of $25,000 apiece, according to McClatchy.
"Sales and inquiries have spiked, according to several of the U.S. companies that make money from doomsday fears.
“The increase in demand is everywhere. We are getting hundreds of calls,” said Ron Hubbard, president of Atlas Survival Shelters, a firm based in Montebello, California. Inquiries have slowed down as tensions have eased over the last week, but Hubbard said he still expects to have a banner year, selling 1,000 shelters at an average price of $25,000 each.”
Sales in Japan have increased to the point where one manufacturer is opening a sales office in Osaka.
“Hubbard reports there is intensified demand in Japan, where he has opened a sales office in Osaka. He’s also opening a new 400,000-square-foot plant in Dallas, largely to serve the Japanese market.
“We are back in the 1960s again,” said Hubbard, referring to the Cold War demand for bomb shelters. “We’ve got a crazy man on one side and Donald Trump on the other.”
Gary Lynch, general manager of Rising S Shelters in Murchison, Texas, has also seen a rise in demand for his products both in Japan and the US.
“'It is all due to the rhetoric on what is going on in North Korea,’ said Lynch, who said he has sold 67 bomb shelters internationally this year, mostly to Japan, compared to just nine for all of 2016.”
Lynch’s boss, Rising S owner Clyde Scott, told McClatchy that after Obama became president in early 2009, his company was inundated with orders from conservatives who were afraid Obama would try and take their guns. Now, Rising S is selling shelters to Democrat who are afraid Trump will start a war.
“In the United States, bomb shelter customers run the gamut. Some are homeowners recently alarmed about the threat of a nuclear strike. They also include survivalists and “preppers” — people preparing for man-made or natural disasters. Rising S is owned by a Texas prepper named Clyde Scott, who named his company after Jesus Christ, the rising son.
After Barack Obama was elected, Lynch said Rising S was contacted by customers worried about the government coming after their guns. After Trump was elected, a different clientele — Democrats — started calling. 'People are worried that Trump would start a war,' he said.”
Falling prices could be another reason for the bump in sales…
“Atlas markets 15 types of shelters, Hubbard said, but focuses on a corrugated steel pipe model, which can be decked out with luxuries or kept as a simple “man cave.” He said he’s brought his average price down from $100,000 to about $25,000 in the past six years.
“I think of myself as a modern-day Henry Ford, coming out with a shelter that everyone can afford,” Hubbard said.”
Instead of selling individual shelters, one California-based company built a doomsday bunker in Indiana and sold shares for $35,000 a pop. They’ve already sold out.
"Vivos, another California-based company, offers a completely different shelter experience. It sells shares in underground bunker complexes, a sort of doomsday condominium. Vivos — which means “to live” in Latin — says that its 80-person Indiana complex is completely sold out, with shares going for $35,000 per adult.
Even Kim and Kanye are buying…
“In their sales pitches, bunker companies also promise customers complete confidentiality. Rising S continues to fend off tabloid rumors that it's building a bunker for Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.”
…but they're trying to keep it quiet because people who own bunkers generally don’t want their neighbors to know they have one.
“Owners of shelters generally insist they don’t want their neighbors to know they have one, Hubbard said. “They would all be freaking out and banging on your door,” he said. “It is kind of like when a ship sinks — everyone swims to the floating life raft."
Demand for bunkers is rising even in South Korea, where residents have long since written off Kim Jong Un’s threats as empty rhetoric.
“There’s even increased interest in South Korea, he says.
“South Koreans generally don’t buy shelters because they are numb to the rhetoric coming out of North Korea,” he said. “But apparently Kim Jong Un has struck a chord.”
Though Trump promised during the campaign to adhere to an “America first” policy of nonintervention, he has repeatedly demonstrated a knack for military confrontation since taking office, having launched a missile strike on a Syrian government airfield and, just this past week, announcing that he would increase the number of troops in Afghanistan – a decision that reportedly inspired former staffer Sebastian Gorka to resign in protest.
In the absence of Bannon, as long as Trump continues to surround himself with generals like Chief of Staff John Kelly, the threat of thermonuclear conflict will linger.