Profiting From Fear

CAROUSEL - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., accompanied by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks to reporters outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Sept. 8, 2009, after a meeting with President Barack Obama about health care reform. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Between the possibility of another terrorist attack, the fear of chemical or biological weapons and the looming threat of war with Iraq there is a climate of fear not seen in this country since the Cold War.

CBS News Correspondent Mika Brzezniski reports that a strategically located store in New York has now become the profit center of an emerging new doomsday industry.

At America's first anti-terrorism retailer, they're banking on your worst fears -- and offering products to alleviate those fears. Products like a $900 dollar "high-rise parachute" or nuclear, chemical and biological protection suits for infants.

Harvey Kushner, a terrorism expert turned anti-terrorism entrepreneur, says products like those are flying off the shelves.

Its no wonder they're seeing so much interest, the store is in a prime location -- just a few blocks away from the constant reminder of just how deadly a terrorist attack can be -- Ground Zero.

The store carries virtually every anti-terror gadget imaginable, but do they work?

Kushner claims the Raditect -- a radiation detector -- can warn you of a terrorist bomb. "We believe in the 21st century these devices will be as common as a carbon monoxide detector," he told Brzezinski.

But when CBS News checked out the gadget with terrorism specialist Jeffery Schlanger, he said it was "useless."

"It essentially amounts to a piece of junk."

Told that it costs $150, Schlanger replied, "Well it's $150 wasted."

Kushner defended the items. "If this is a layer of protection that will make you feel better, then indeed it will make you feel better and allow you to function."

In fact, none of those products are guaranteed to do anything but make you "feel better". And for some, that's enough.

"Everybody in my family has a gas mask," said one shopper. "I hope I don't (have to use them), but I have them, and if God forbid I need it, it's there."

Still, security specialist Schlanger says to really be safe, "Don't spend any money. Stop smoking. Look both ways before you cross the street, and you've got a much better chance of protecting yourself and your family."

But with two new stores set to open in New York -- and more planned nationwide -- it looks like doomsday retailing will continue to thrive in the marketplace of fear.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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