Cork survivalist store owner sells himself because global pandemic has been bad for business

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The owner of Munster’s main survival store is selling his goods and going back to his ‘home’ roots, as he puts it after seven happy years at Macroom, the double impact of the pandemic and Brexit has caused hard times.

Sven Ridgeway, who also stars in a new TG4 documentary on the apocalypse, is a lot happier than you might expect from someone who spends a lot of time preparing for the End of Days – and he can’t wait to return to market stalls and settle on her own land with cattle.

When he landed in Macroom eight years ago with the intention of opening the Irish Prep and Bushcraft Store selling knives, axes and bows and arrows, he stopped at the local Gardai station. to give them a warning – it’s safe to say the jaws have dropped.

Yet despite being painted in a giant camouflage print, Sven says he and his store “couldn’t have fitted into Macroom any more easily” and that the local community has been “genuinely welcoming and happy to have. another type of business here “.

“There was a weird raised eyebrow and sometimes little old women would come in and look around and ask me what it was, but the locals and other traders were great,” Sven said.



Sven Ridgeway, owner of a survival store in Macroom

There is a specter within the survivalist community – some people are interested in extreme camping Bear Grylls style, others anticipate every possible doomsday scenario and diligently prepare for each.

Sven, originally from the UK, is a pretty hardcore survivalist. He grew up in the shadow of the Cold War and the ‘duck and cover’ mentality it inspired and his family lived on the North West Coast near the UK’s worst nuclear accident – the Burning Fire. Windscale from 1957.

“It happened on our way home and it horrified me when I was a kid, I remember looking at the sea one day and the water literally seemed to glow green.

“One of the reasons I moved to Ireland is because it is one of the furthest countries from nuclear reactors in Europe – and because I saw a gap in the market when it comes to survival here, ”he explained.

As much as survivalism is part of Sven’s worldview, he saw the lifestyle aspect of “preparation” as a business opportunity – and it was very lucrative when he started selling everything from hardware. from camping to outdoor cooking utensils.

“As I was opening the Irish Survivalist Group, people were coming from all over the country and beyond to come to the store, which was wonderful.

“Some people just wanted camping gear, others were preparing for everything from a hurricane to an economic collapse and of course a pandemic,” Sven said.

Ultimately, aside from the impact of Brexit and the increased customs fees it brought with it, it was the pandemic that prompted Sven to decide to close the doors of his shop.

“A lot of our customers have traveled here and they couldn’t do it with the blockages anymore,” Sven said.

He sees the irony in one of the end-of-the-world scenarios his clients were preparing to negatively impact a business that helps people prepare for the end – but he has a pretty good sense of humor to About it all, and it looks set for a change of pace.

“The end hasn’t come yet!” He joked, “I always sell a lot of stock, so now is a great time for people to come and say hello, and I’ll be back at the market. Skibbereen and elsewhere. ”

He says he looks forward to settling down on a plot with “poultry, a few pigs, drinking the milk of my own goats, and maybe even having pheasants, because I’m a hunter too.”

Listening to him talk about it, you might even think he’s optimistic about the future.

You can see more of Sven and the Irish survivalist community on TG4’s Go mBeirimid Beo this Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.

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