Not intended for Armageddon, but new business can accommodate
Protective Structure’s owners and operators (l to r) Carrie Schlosser, Rachel McClain and Shelley Hill. The female business partners are pictured inside one of their on-site storm shelter displays.
When I walked into Protective Structures, the newest addition to Jasper’s artillery of Main Street businesses, I didn’t imagine an interview about storm shelters and bulletproof materials would get emotional.
But there was a lot about the interview I hadn’t expected.
I wandered in out of sheer curiosity --- for weeks I had driven by the new sign advertising “Bullet and Storm Resistant Systems & Materials.” The thought of an emergency preparedness shop on a small-town’s Main Street was so unorthodox I couldn’t resist.
I was greeted by a jubilant red-haired lady wearing a black, skull-covered tank top. A ream of paper zombie targets was stacked against one wall.
The lady was Shelley Hill, one of the three women who run the business, and the zombie targets – which they commissioned a friend to make – were there to inject humor and personality into an otherwise serious endeavor.
Hill introduced me to Cassie Schlosser, the company president who has been selling, designing and managing installation of bulletproof systems for 10 years.
“We do courthouse installations, banks, we work with a lot of governments on that commercial end,” Schlosser said, noting that they recently completed an installation at the Pickens County Courthouse. “What we wanted was something where we could have a storefront and interact with the community. We want to focus on the residential market rather than that national commercial market where we never get to see the end result.”
Schlosser showed me around; MREs, emergency lighting, seed starting kits, pouches of drinking water, emergency toilets and other survival goods lined the shelves. Zombie paraphernalia is available “for the teenagers.” Schlosser explained that their motivation is not end-of the-world preparation, but protection of families in emergency situations at home.
“A lot of survival stores are for tactical purposes, to take a bag out in the woods and survive in nature,” Schlosser said. “We’re more focused at staying at home and surviving off the land with off-grid living. We’re not prepping for the Armageddon, not that there’s anything wrong with that, we just want your family to be safe and be able to survive if you can’t get to the grocery store during a snow storm or don’t have electricity. We want to be your one-stop shop.”
But for these women protecting families is more than a business move. They’re really passionate about it. Both Hill and Schlosser teared up as they spoke about what they see as their responsibility to children.
“These are our next generation,” Hill said, who also works with the Racheal’s Rest, a non-profit that assists abused women and children. “We can hardly stand to watch the news now, with our children dying from storms or gunmen. They are our future.”
Hill mentioned a storm shelter they completed in a school hallway in Tennessee and is crossing her fingers in hopes that legislation will pass requiring newly constructed schools include a shelter. She said they also want to work with school boards and PTOs to find funding options for retrofitting existing schools.
“And it was just announced that part of Georgia is now in tornado alley,” she said. “It’s moving east and we’re right in it now, so this is really the right time for this kind of business.”
Schlosser and Hill took me downstairs where several of the full-size shelters they offer are on display, and they say they are unique because they carry such a wide variety.
“As far as we know we are going to be the only store that will offer several different types of storm structures,” Hill said. “We work with four different companies so there is a lot to choose from. We have above ground, below ground, vault style, closet style options. We’ll invite customers downstairs and see what their needs are and they can make an educated decision.”
Schlosser said they want to provide a solution for every family, no matter what their financial standing.
“I mean, we can build a $200,000 structure if that’s what you want, but we have options that are $3,000 to $4,000, too,” she said. “It’s not a one-size fits all situation. We really wanted to focus on offering the best products for any budget.”
Rachel McClain, Schlosser’s sister and the company’s sales and administrative representative, will teach community classes on emergency preparation topics. The team also gives back to organizations and special causes like the Special Olympics, veterans groups and Racheal’s Rest.
“We like this community,” Schlosser said, “We want to be a part of it and help people protect themselves and their families.”
Protective Structures is open for business, but will hold their ribbon cutting on Halloween.
Protective Structures is located at 35 South Main Street, Jasper, Ga. Visit them online at www.protectivestructures.com.