Let's say you are stranded in an average CVS Pharmacy or Wallgreens in a post-apocalyptic world. While this building has been untouched, there is nothing else around you for hundreds of miles and you have no method of transportation. Somehow, you know that others have survived, and it can't be more than a couple of months, maybe half a year, until you are saved. In other words, you don't use any items simply because you are dying and "might as well".

Which items do you never touch?

Would you ever touch the soda section, or find a use for stuff in the cosmetics department? Could birth control ever come in handy? Here are some conditions:

  • There is a pharmacy and you have a better-than-average knowledge of... pharmacy-stuff.
  • The electricity for the lights and refrigerators (and freezers) work and will continue to work, however you do not have communication with the outside world.
  • You are smart and will not make typical accidents that people in a stressful and strange situation might.

Now let's say you don't get saved ever. How long would you last, and how much of the store was untouched at your death?

**Bonus: What is the first thing you do?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It might sound funny, but birth control actually might be very useful, ie you could do very good slingshot from condom. $\endgroup$
    – user902383
    Apr 2, 2015 at 8:19
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I think your setup is not plausible. Electric power supply will not last very long without people running power plants. And if you have power in a supermarket, i think it would be safe to assume that the internet as well as mobile communication should still be working, too. $\endgroup$
    – Burki
    Apr 2, 2015 at 9:36
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    $\begingroup$ In a survival situation, soda > pure water because it provides both liquid and calories for the same weight. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Apr 2, 2015 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ Your question needs improvement. First of all you are asking several different questions. I suggest you edit your text and leave one. Too bad, because people have already started answering the different ones. Secondly: you fail to mention if the water supply is intact. If not, that is probably the limiting factor (with a required 2 liters/day). Thirdly you fail to mention the supermarket size - I doubt that even a CVS Pharmacy or Wallgreens have a standard size, and besides your audience here is international so many don't know what stores these are. Clean up your question, please. $\endgroup$
    – user3106
    Apr 2, 2015 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ Nearly everything is useful given enough ingenuity. Soda bottles are probably early post apocalyptic gold. You can store water in them, or cut them up for materials. Also. Grab as many tampons as you can. VERY useful as a field expedient bandage for gunshots. $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2015 at 12:33

3 Answers 3


What gets touched last:

  • Exotic foods section. Lets face it. In every bigger supermarket, there is something for chinese cooking, or japanese. Most people do not know, how to use them (including myself). So, average Joe would touch them when he is really hungry
  • Special care products: Like supplements for better hair grow. Or foot care section. Most of men related care if you are woman. All hygiene related products for "bad week in month" if you are man.
  • Kid clothes and kid eating supplies (knives, bowls...)
  • Kid related furniture (chairs, tables...)
  • Kid car supplies
  • Halloween costumes, or any "funny part" of store
  • Canned food and other long lasting food: Simply because you would try to not touch it as long as possible

Humanity must completely vanish in order to make story believable

In bigger stores in Czech Republic, it is pretty usual, that every store has some limited electric produces. Namely radios and cell phones. And pre-paid SIM cards.

So, you can unpack cellphone sold here, stick a SIM inside and make call. And bonus, at least in EU, you should be able to call 112 even from phone without a SIM card.

You can unpack radio, load it with batteries (in case of power outage) and search for any broadcast. You can even try the TV in case of enough power.

You can also move in "back office" area, where even more supplies will be stored.

If there is no one around and no answer I believe you could spend about 10 years without being hungry

  • $\begingroup$ How did you reach the figure 10 years? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Apr 2, 2015 at 9:41
  • $\begingroup$ Crystal bowl guess. The number is hard to guess, because you cannot predict anything. If you want, I can edit it into: "I, myself, think that given the conditions I could survive 10 years at least. But I am not willing to test it" $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2015 at 9:43
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    $\begingroup$ You might want to burn the tables & chairs for heat and cooking. $\endgroup$
    – Steve Ives
    Apr 2, 2015 at 10:05
  • $\begingroup$ One of the unknowns. My answer tells the OP that with acces to electricity, the scenario "being stranded in supermarket forever" is not plausible and I offer him to think about cutting the power off. But the question itself allows to assume that I have power supply forever $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2015 at 10:44
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveIves When I hear "Kid related furniture" I think of the cheap colorful plastic stuff rather than wood. $\endgroup$ Apr 20, 2015 at 21:37

First thing to do is to freeze as much of the perishable stuff as possible. If necessary, remove stuff from the freezers to make room, starting with foodstuff with long shelf-lives once thawed and food you cannot use.

  • $\begingroup$ Dont you think it would be better to consume the perishable stuff first? $\endgroup$
    – Abhishek
    Apr 2, 2015 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ Good luck eating a supermarket's worth of perishable food before it goes bad... $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Apr 2, 2015 at 10:01
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    $\begingroup$ Yes - you eat perishable stuff first and freeze as much of what remains as you can. $\endgroup$
    – Steve Ives
    Apr 2, 2015 at 10:03

If I am smart and not suicidal, I would not reach for toxic section which contains pesticides and poisonous stuff... The first thing most people would do will be to reach the cash counter and save all the money from the registrar... Even though at the described situation, they won't realize they would be needing money...


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