ORLANDO — When the inevitable zombie apocalypse begins and brain-devouring hordes of the living dead start destroying civilization, Orlando, Fla., will be prepared.
Tucked away in strip mall off Sand Lake Road near International Drive is one of the country’s only shops dedicated to killing the undead: the Zombie Survival store.
“Zombies get people excited,” said owner Kurt Josephs, who also owns Josephs Liquor & Fine Wines located next door. “It’s a craze right now.”
Stocked with surplus supplies from the U.S. Army and Navy, the Zombie Survival store has almost everything to combat flesh-eating zombies, including gas masks, boots, camouflage shirts, backpacks, MREs and machetes.
There’s also life-sized, three-dimensional zombie targets that actually “bleed” when hit and official United Sates Zombie Hunting Permits.
And if killing the walking dead isn’t your thing, fans of zombies can purchase an array of corpse paraphernalia: Zombie purses, zombie books, zombie caution tape, severed heads, zombie garden gnomes, zombie stickers, blood-spattered table cloths and zombie candy.
“If you like zombies, we got zombie stuff for you,” Josephs said.
Open since April, the Zombie Survival store is the brainchild of Josephs, who also operates a costume store at the end of the strip mall. In the past few years, Josephs said he began seeing a rise in the popularity of zombies, singling out AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
Josephs said he told several friends he wanted to open a store — the only other one in the U.S. besides The Zombie Apocalypse Store in Las Vegas — to cater exclusively to zombie enthusiasts.
“They (his friends) laughed at me,” Josephs said.
His wife supported the idea, and so Josephs moved ahead. He spent six months going to trade shows and conventions in search for zombie-themed items for the shop.
“It’s crazy the stuff they come out with,” Josephs said.
A mixture of nearby residents and tourists shop at the store, which is open most days from noon to 7 p.m., according to Josephs. And besides the zombie fans, there’s also a steady flow of ex-military men and women, police officers, survivalists and those on the hunt for Army and Navy gear.
As for if and when the dead rise from their graves in search for food, Josephs said: “We’re going to be ready.”