The Profits of Doom

Manhattan's hottest boutique is Safer America, where shoppers wait in long lines for gas masks, antiradiation pills -- and a sense of security

A mix of curiosity and fear inspired me to visit the terrorism-protection retail store Safer America. When the government put us on high alert, like many Americans, I began thinking about the precautions and equipment that might improve my chances of surviving the aftermath of another September 11. So, for forty minutes in the bitter cold, I waited in a slow, shuffling line to enter Manhattan's first emporium devoted entirely to staying alive after a terrorist attack. Wanting to know which was the best of the seven types of gas masks the store sells, I put the question to Safer America CEO Eric Samama. "It doesn't matter anyway," he said, "they're all gone."

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