Isaiah Price had no idea a global public health crisis was right around the corner when he quit his two jobs to run a survival and outdoor gear business full-time out of his home.

Selling survival gear had been a side gig for Price, of Mapleton, who worked as a manager at another business and as a commercial and corporate pilot until he decided to dive head-first into the survivalist world in January.

“At first I was just working from home and out of my garage and basement,” Price said in an interview Wednesday. “And then very quickly, I started taking over the house with inventory and it just started filling up.”

Not long after, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and a 5.7 earthquake struck near Magna.

“It all just kind of started getting crazy,” said Price.

Seeing that the need for Utahns to be prepared for an emergency was as pressing as ever, Price moved his business out of his garage and opened up Sophos Survival in Spanish Fork.

The store, which opened on May 1, sells survival gear ranging from first-aid and survival kits to freeze dryers to food storage products to water filtration systems, as well as outdoor and recreation equipment like sleeping bags, camping chairs and cast irons.

“This whole business started from ... a root love of the outdoors, emergency preparedness and survival that I grew up with,” Price said. “I grew up in the outdoors. I grew up hunting, hiking, fishing, camping, scouting and it’s always just been a big passion of mine.”

More than anything, Price said he loves “being prepared for things” and loathes “being caught unprepared for a situation, whether it’s just a day-to-day situation or if it’s an emergency situation or whatever.”

Flying planes helped Price develop this mindset. He noted that pilots prepare for emergencies constantly.

“You’re constantly going over the procedures (and) checklist,” he said. “You prepare for the event that something goes wrong. So if something happens in the cockpit in a critical moment, you might have seconds to react. If you’ve never done it (prepared) before, you could be potentially part of the problem. You could panic, you could freeze, you could misdiagnose the situation and make it worse.”

Being mentally and emotionally prepared for an emergency is as critical as having the right gear, Price said, pointing out that “sophos” is the Ancient Greek word for “wisdom.”

Beginning next week, Price will offer emergency preparedness and survival classes to “teach those skills to people so that you can have the mental preparedness side of it, along with the physical preparedness.”

The Spanish Fork store also sells 3-ply surgical masks, surgical gloves, sanitizing wipes and other supplies that prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Freeze dryers and water storage tanks have been the most popular products among customers so far, according to Price.

“A lot of people … realized I think that they maybe weren’t quite as prepared (for an emergency) as they thought they were in some areas,” he said. “And so I’ve had a really great response from people here that are excited and grateful that this kind of a store has opened up, because it gives people an opportunity to come in and take a look at stuff firsthand versus having to order it online and not knowing what they’re getting.”

Sophos Survival is located at 244 N. Main St. in Spanish Fork.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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