This is my list for the most used items in my daily projects and comfort items which will store well but are not easily duplicated. Some of these are stored for general use, some for barter and some because you have to stay sane.
1) Soap, all kinds. Hand soap, liquid for dishes, bathing and general disinfection, soap will be huge for keeping disease in check with close proximity living. I buy the bulk packs of bar soap when they go on sale at the dollar store, and I use a rough estimate of 3 bars of bath size per month, per person. This I think is a bit lean, because of constant hand washing and I’d much rather over stock than run out. Infections and disease kill more than injuries in disasters.
In the soap category should be as much Sodium Hydroxide as you can store. The common name for this is Lye, and its found in drain cleaner. Buy as much as you can, this is the essential ingredient in home made soap. A 50 gallon barrel of 10 lb sealed heavy plastic bags would be a good start. Keep water away from this, in every circumstance.
2) Toilet paper- a good guess is 1 roll per person per week. That’s the official US Navy ration, but personally I think its a bit less than a good idea. 52 rolls of paper is what the guess is per year for one person. I don’t buy it. Better to have too much than not enough. I personally add for every bulk pack of TP, 1 giant size box of feminine pads, and a box of Tampons. These are multi use items, you can stop up a bleeder in anyone , not just the intended use. Excellent first aid stocks as well as for the ladies. They will love you for thinking of them.
3) Tools- all kinds of hand tools including Axes, shovels, primitive carpentry sets with Brace and Bit, saws, and assorted wood working tools. Power tools are nice but a better choice would be hand tools. An Adze, and framing axe for working with logs, as well as a Peavey for moving logs should be in this kit.
I’ve found tool chests sold at yard sales for less than scrap metal value. If you have the room and the inclination, storing tools for barter would be an exceptional trade item.
4) Construction Fasteners- Nails, deck screws, dry wall screws, nuts and bolts, washers etc. These are common until you don’t have any. Making these is next to impossible, storing 200 lbs of 16P nails, and another 100 lbs of assorted sized screws would make you a king during a reconstruction project. Fill in with smaller nails as you build your supply.
Having them before means fewer trips to the hardware store when you are working on projects today.
5) Butane Lighters-Buy the 50 pack on Amazon, I get a 50 pack of the Bic every time I go to the store and throw the package into my sort bin at the house. I put small things like that, and things bought in the bargain bins like grill lighters and such. Keep them all in their packages until you need them. They will be instant barter items as the survivors of Katrina found very quickly.
Large boxes of kitchen matches are also on this list. You can break down the box based on the match value at the time, 10 matches = who knows.
6) Can Openers- Every old time soldier and Marine will tell you, his P-38 can opener is a lifetime tool. Mine has been on my key ring for 25 years. You can get them for 20-50 cents each in bulk. I recommend a few thousand. They are easily stored, and instantly recognized by everyone as a useful implement.
Get the American made ones by Shelby. They been making these for a very long time. Buy them cheap, stack them deep.
7) OTC pain medications, diarrhea meds etc. Everything you use when a kid gets sick or you have an injury. Buy it and store it. Included here are fever reducers, childrens dose cold and flu meds etc. Ask your nearest Mom, she knows what to get. Allergy meds are a huge addition here.
8) Tooth brushes, Floss, Toothpaste with baking soda. These are all cheap, and you will use them even if the S doesn’t HTF. Just rotate and use like regular prep stocks.
9) Alcohol- I hesitate to add this in the barter side of items. People will be going nuts for something to drink and you should not be the one stop shop. It creates a huge target on you and your group. Keep it for your selves or use it as barter currency in very limited situations. The last thing you need is a drunk creating problems, and running his or her mouth as to where they got their fix.
10) In the same category, Ammunition. We have all seen how crazy the prices of 22lr have gone and I’m not seeing a reduction in value when there is no more. Buy as much as you can find and stash it. Its not as cheep as it used to be, but its out there. The best deals are going to be in the 5000 round case. Also, .177 and .22 airgun pellets if you have an airgun. Much quieter than a rifle and just as effective on small game.
Be selective on who you trade ammunition too, better to miss a deal than have your own ammo used against you.
This is my starter list for post SHTF barter and comfort items. Please comment on additional items you are stocking