He Has 17,700 Bottles of Hand Sanitizer and Nowhere to Sell Them

Amazon cracked down on coronavirus price gouging. Now, while the rest of the world searches, some sellers are holding stockpiles of sanitizer and masks.

Comments: 167

  1. It’s wartime profiteering with deadlier results. Amazon needs to shut them down and government officials need to step in.

  2. Solitary confinement for life. These people are life threatening societal pathogens.

  3. It would be nice if he did the decent thing and either gave them away to those who need them, or at least sold them at cost out of his garage.

  4. “As for his stockpile, Mr. Colvin said he would now probably try to sell it locally. “If I can make a slight profit, that’s fine,” he said. “But I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.”” Obviously you’re not looking to redistribute to where it’s not more available or you wouldn’t look to sell it locally. As for not wanting to make front-page news, it’s too late for that.

  5. Despicable behavior for which there can be no justification. I wish no harm on anyone, however, I would have no problem with all the arbitrageurs who prey on those in need to find themselves at the receiving end of criminal charges and stiff fines (or incarceration if warranted) as just reward for their actions - not to mention public shaming in their local communities.

  6. Kiss your present life goodbye, Mr. Colvin. The sunlight of public exposure will do its work and you will be shamed and banished from your community in time. The best thing for you to do right now is to open your garage doors and donate this stuff to your neighbors and local hospitals – be sure to call the TV stations for widespread coverage. Do it today.

  7. Family man?! That's a funny one. Perhaps he should have sold them at a reasonable price instead of trying to rip off desperate people during a health crisis? Maybe a moral and ethical decision would have been prudent sir. Try donating it all or handing it out to retirement homes or hospitals to balance your karma because right now it's not looking so good for you dude.

  8. Hey profiteering off other's pain and suffering during times of need is the American way. Many "venerable" family fortunes and long-established businesses started just like this guy.

  9. Matt Colvin is an Air Force veteran. It's disappointing to see someone trained by the military engaging in such selfish behavior in the face of a public emergency. This isn't the character I anticipate when I thank vets for their service. The only way Matt Colvin, along with others like him, can redeem his reputation is by doing something good to make amends. Matt: Load the 17,700 bottle of hand sanitizer in your truck and drive around the state donating cases to hospitals, health clinics, and schools. Donate every last item. Be sure to let local news sources know about your mission; maybe if you get some publicity for the donations, you'll see some positive things pop up alongside the inevitable negatives when people google your name.

  10. @mm Colvin is an angel compared to Erik Prince who live the life of a Prince and is treated like a Prince.

  11. @Mary Elizabeth Lease No, they are both despicable

  12. This is selfish, pure and simple. He still could have made tidy profits with a reasonable mark-up. This pandemic is global and every person that gets sick furthers the spread of the virus. We're in this together and should be thinking of other people's safety as well as our own, because they're connected. Also, it's the right thing to do. I think our ability to be compassionate and empathetic is going to be tested over the next few months.

  13. I agree with the contributor here that suggested Mr. Colvin have his product confiscated and sent to nursing homes, child care centers etc...shameful. And why were retailers not limiting? Mister Colvin - if you are reading this - shame on you. Your action was based on greediness and preying on the fear of others. My hope is that you find some decency in your heart and start FREELY distributing this produce to those in need...nursing homes, child care centers, schools, anywhere it can be useful to others. I beleive we are all connected in this world one way or the other and everyone's actions affect everyone else. I say 'NO' to your greed.

  14. Retailers also bear some responsibility for this. They could easily place a limit on the number of bottles of sanitizer per customer, as could big box stores limit the amount of toilet paper a person can buy. But of course that runs counter to the idea of "free market capitalism."

  15. @Alan There wasn't any need to impose a limit before people like Matt and Noah Colvin started hoarding. I do see retailers imposing limits now.

  16. Unfortunately, this is what you get as a result of “small government.” We don’t have a pandemic response team or a safety net, which leaves people on their own. This, combined with our winner-take-all economy, gives us people like this guy and his bro, who are like human tornadoes as regards the amount of damage they can do a a a very short time. I also have to wonder why the stores don’t set limits on how much of a given essential item can be purchased at once.

  17. Trying to rationalize this as providing a service is pathetic. I’m sure those communities where the Colvin’s bought out merchandise would have liked to have had the chance to purchase these items. Think about the more vulnerable people such as the elderly or people with pre-existing conditions who, because of this guys greed, had no chance to purchase these items to help protect themselves. Just because there were some buyers online desperate to get the merchandise the Colvin’s were selling and were willing and able to pay the exorbitant prices doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do. The Colvin brothers have no concept of empathy.

  18. I’m speechless at the cruelty and callousness of these brothers.

  19. A more perfect rational for socialism is hard to imagine. The self-centered griftyness that lies at the center of capitalism, be it large or small, is truly disgusting to behold. From the neoliberal market rationalisms to the inability to provide resources equally, even in a crisis, you can see our whole culture unfold. This pandemic is a perfect lens with which to examine the state of the state.

  20. I’m for regulated capitalism. Price gouging on the latest toy craze? Go for it if people are willing to pay your price. Taking advantage of a public health emergency? Not so much.

  21. @TimesnLatte Here's the problem. Capitalism creates and reinforces a certain kind of behavior in people; self-absorbed, individualistic, ambitious, aggressive, selfish. The Republicans have long relied on religious teachings to mitigate the worst aspects of this behavior (see Ross Douthat). Neoliberal centrist Wall Street Democrats have even dispensed with that. "If your so smart, why aren't you rich", "I got mine, you get yours", etc. ad nauseam. It's why the super rich are heading for their underground bunkers in New Zealand. Capitalism was an effective response in the 15th century to the aristocracy of the time. We have a new aristocracy now that has no sense of collective, social responsibility. It's not just this pandemic. The planet is in a state of emergency regarding climate, and we really need a new set of values and economic life appropriate to dealing with what we are confronting. Less individualistic, more social. All together, no one gets left behind.

  22. I cannot begin to express how much I despise the behavior this article describes. I'd be surprised if Mr. Colvin wouldn't qualify as a sociopath, because his mindset/responses seem to be entirely absent of any consideration for the effect on other people. How ironic that he speaks of "inefficiencies" in the market and that he was merely redistributing resources, when he and those like him have now created even greater "inefficiencies" that could cost lives and more. I hope this guy actually has a conscience that comes awake, and he does something good with his stockpile. Otherwise....well, I need to stop typing now.

  23. They need to immediately pass a law stating that individuals cannot sell hand sanitizers or masks, that they can only be purchased through legitimate sources. Leave these hyenas with nothing except the fear of prosecution if they try their gouging or selling at any price just to unload their merchandise....let them sit with it forever.

  24. RightNow now we're in a state of emergency because of the virus and people can take advantage are the most vulnerable? This should be Criminal.

  25. I've been thinking about why Colvin would agree to be interviewed and photographed for an article that most certainly would vilify him in the world's most widely read newspaper... I don't think he actually feels shame, remorse or guilt. I don't think he cares about the admonitions and negative comments from readers. I believe he is ONLY thinking about profits and how to move his "inventory". Amazon and Ebay cut him off? Ok, no problem, he'll agree to a story in the NYT and hope that people contact him privately to buy his $100 bottles of hand sanitizer. I hope no one buys from him or people like him. Use soap and water and let the authorities deal with this man. His actions are unethical to say the least.

  26. This absolutely disgusts me. I am a oncology registered nurse at a busy urban academic hospital. Classified as an “essential” healthcare worker; I am still going to work seeing immunocompromised patients in clinic using public transportation. Schools are closed and people are working remotely until further notice. I do not have the additional cash-flow to finance Uber rides to and from work. I am taking the necessary precautions. I went to many stores in search of hand sanitizer and also looked online for hand sanitizer. What to do? I say re-sell the hand sanitizer at cost to first responders. Deliver them to police stations, fire stations, urgent care centers, nursing homes, day cares and hospitals. Don’t just let it sit in your garage. Distribute it to those who are serving the public; who truly need it.

  27. My CVS didn’t even have sanitizer left for customers to use after touching the pin pad. They sprayed alcohol on my hands for me.

  28. I’m a Dem, but this is capitalism and this man’s instincts were correct. Capitalism is amoral. Good government is the counter-balance. This man does not belong in jail. He shouldn’t be obligated to eat the cost and give it away, but the government should offer to pay him cost and then give the stuff away to those who need it. This virus became a bigger emergency than most of us expected. Next time, this seller will think about more than money when he’s making a business decision.

  29. @IJ No, this is not capitalism, this is anti-market behaviour. There are reasons why even Chicago School economists admit the need for regulation and controls in cases like this - he was not solving a market failure, he was creating one.

  30. @IJ capitalism isn’t immoral, unfettered capitalism is immoral.

  31. "As for his stockpile, Mr. Colvin said he would now probably try to sell it locally. 'If I can make a slight profit, that’s fine,' he said. 'But I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me." Um, dude, I think you just did. I must be so naive. It just boggles my mind that anyone would try to profit off people's fear and misery during a pandemic, no matter what their financial circumstances were. Mr. Colvin--how about donating those much-needed supplies to the local hospitals in your area?

  32. “Even at $125 a box, they were selling almost instantly,” he said. “It was mind-blowing as far as what you could charge.” He estimates he made $35,000 to $40,000 in profit. Now he has 1,000 more masks on order, but he’s not sure what to do with them. I know what he can do with them.

  33. I'd be more willing to view him as a hero if he was hoarding it to sell to hospitals and clinics at a reasonable price (enough to cover his costs). Doesn't look like that's the case.

  34. I’m a healthcare worker in both a city and state that have each declared a state of emergency in response to the pandemic. My hospital has begun to ration cleansing wipes and hand sanitizers because they are running out of the product we need to take care of people. To see this man standing in front of a garage full of what amounts to life saving supplies, complaining that he can’t rip people off by selling them, has me grinding my teeth. In a world where it is so easy to find people using the internet, I further question his judgement by going public with his exploits. I wonder whether he hasn’t compromised his safety in doing so. Hopefully not.

  35. @J I have a child in healthcare and she is to the point she has almost no ppe. She deserves to go home healthy everyday to her 7 children after she puts her life on the line to save and comfort others. Healthcare workers would well be within their rights to refuse to work without ppe but, most are too dedicated and love what they do and will continue to risk themselves. This guy just infuriates me to tears!

  36. Colvin, and others who are price gouging at a time of crisis, with lives hanging in the balance, should be arrested and charged. If there is no law to protect consumers (and society), our best hope is that he and/or his family suffer from the same virus he looks to profit from.

  37. Remember, the privatized system of health insurance we have now gouges people in medical need every single day. This case of opportunism is just more raw and apparent.

  38. This article perfectly describes a dilemma explained in every Economics 101 class. In this case, the market hasn’t worked and Amazon & EBay have a responsibility to come up with contingency plan to set a fair price for these items.

  39. The spin capitalism can put on its worst excesses is truly mind boggling. It begins with Reagan trickle down economics and people exploiting other people's labor while avoiding taxes self-describing as "job creators," and it ends with people like Noah profiteering from a emergency health crisis and calling it a "public service."

  40. He actually COULD sell them if he sold them for what they should cost.

  41. This is what CNBC, Cramer, The Republicans all the free market people love Hoard needed medical and safety materials , not to help people but profit off their misery. There was a character like him in Catch 22

  42. Mr. Colvin deserves all the scorn that will be heaped upon him. He is the poster child for the conscience-free type of capitalism being promoted by too many in power today. If he did have any remorse for his greed at the expense of people's health, he would donate his hoards to hospitals and nursing homes that are struggling to find the sanitary products they need to keep their patients and staffs healthy. And I can't help but wonder if he considers himself pro-life.

  43. Yes, these opportunistic sellers are not acting ethically, by preventing these potentially life saving products from reaching a population that desperately needs them. But sites like Amazon and EBay are also at fault, for promoting this type of predatory practices. If they finally took measures to stop the price gauging is because it reached a level that caught the authorities’ attention, and only after them also making huge profits from these sales. This is just one more manifestation of the social damage caused by these poorly regulated mega e-commerce sites.

  44. All stores should limit the purchase number of everything, no hoarding period. No profiteering period.

  45. This is the worst in us. We are better than this. It is one thing to sell a toy at a profit and a completely different thing to prey on people’s fears. We can get through this crisis together—each doing our part. Just staying home or not buying hand sanitizer and masks if we don’t need them can help our most vulnerable citizens and healthcare workers. We are better than this and it’s time we show it.

  46. Thank you for publishing their names, photos and hometowns. They should expect some public shaming (at a minimum).

  47. @Hugo Some cultures -- for example, Amish -- have a custom called "shunning." The details vary in different groups, but it can get severe. Nobody talks to him, nobody buys from him, nobody sells to him -- that type of thing gets old real quick. It would be very appropriate in this case.

  48. Understand needing extra money, but no sympathy for someone who thought to profit off a deadly crisis. He should be donating it immediately to, say, prisons or homes for elderly or schools, and this should not even be news. He should not need us to make that suggestion. Family man tshirt, nope, sorry. Not amused, not feeling the love. At all.

  49. NO, you aren't "fixing inefficiencies" when you go to retail stores and empty their shelves. You are just hoarding and taking them from others who would have bought them for themselves. As for a retailer/distributors/manufacturers increasing prices, that's how you limit sales to those who really need/want them. Some put limits on units sold per customer, which is nice if you are the sole supplier, but bad actors will just buy up to the limit at store after store.

  50. This is straight up predatory and exhibits malicious intent towards all other people. I think we all knew people would be motivated to buy more items for a sense of security to help deal with an unknown threat, but his deliberate choice to eliminate as much of his community’s supply ( and well beyond) of critically needed items seems extraordinarily perverse. These items are integral in helping to stop the potential spread of this virus in every community and help support a life line for some. Disturbing too, while we know that many professionals in the health field are already reusing their surgical masks. I imagine that the animus many people will feel towards this guy might motivate him to reassess his decision to still make money off it all. Maybe he will come around and redeem himself and donate it all. However, it appears he only finds redemption for his actions in financial terms, keeping his ethical acumen bankrupt.

  51. Here’s an idea, donate the stuff to a local organization and take a tax deduction (presuming that he pays taxes on that income)!

  52. It seems to me that Amazon and eBay took their time implementing price gouging control measures. No doubt they were enjoying their cut of the profits.

  53. Rural areas are already underserved in terms of health care services and those “hole in the wall Dollar General Stores” are often the only place to affordably shop. This wasn’t redistribution of a market imperfection, it was willfully taking necessities away from people who would ultimately need them. Confiscate the supplies and return them to their regions or some sort of proper distribution center. This isn’t price gouging or even profiteering. It is sinful.

  54. I'm astonished at the level of sympathy that emanates from this article. It seems as if Mr. Nicas actually feels bad for him. I don't! As for the comments from others about capitalism ; we are that and therefore he takes the risk that the market goes against him no matter the reason.

  55. @Rob This is straight up news reporting, as it should be. If you want criticism, read an op-ed.

  56. I'm an RN employed at a homeless shelter, in the type of community that Mr. Colvin plundered for his supplies. We would be more than happy to take a generous donation of hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes, since we are already rationing our supplies of both, and they are not available anywhere. (This even before my community has had any infections, although that may be because we still have limited ability to test) I have a box of N-95's purchased long before Covid-19 (used when I clean my chicken coop and the occasional dog de-skunking incident). Instead of selling them for $20 apiece I will happily donate them to my shelter when it becomes necessary. Mr. Colvin needs to take a serious look at his actions and do a soul-searching examination of his conscience. Personally, I hope he gets stuck with his supply and loses his shirt financially. He deserves nothing less. A further irony would be if he gets sick while sitting on his pallets of Purell. Karma...

  57. @Malinoismom masks only help people who have it and to protect healthcare professionals.

  58. @Lei I am a health care professional,(RN) fit tested and trained in the use of N-95's, and plan to use these appropriately; I fully expect in my present position to be faced with caring for infected shelter residents.

  59. @Lei I am a health care professional,(RN) fit tested and trained in the use of N-95's, and plan to use these appropriately; I fully expect in my present position to be faced with caring for infected shelter residents.

  60. They need to be paid their cost and these products relief to medical centers. Action by the government or military is needed in this cases.

  61. I just paid 159 dollars for 20 N-95 masks. It's sad when hospital workers national wide have a shortage. are we supposed to buy our own? The coronavirus is serious. The military has masks that are used for nuclear chemical and biological threats. Some of these masks should be released for use by medical personal.

  62. Sewing machine or glue with fabric elastic and Velcro. Soak the material in colloidal silver which DOES kill germs and viruses and yeasts and molds. Make them for your family. I did. They can be washed and then re-soaked in silver. Let dry and use in public. Buy ozonators for your home and work spaces. We have 4 of them. We ozonate our offices when we are out of the room even if it is for only a few minutes. We are giving our clients that we have to be with for an hour masks and gloves. THE NEW NORMAL.

  63. If he or his family get sick where will they go? To the hospital where doctors and nurses will risk their lives to save his. And to think he is one of the people preventing them from doing their jobs safely.

  64. There are a few legal options available outside of anti-price gouging laws. Under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government could seize all of this property as a public taking -- and compensate him (5th Am.). As a matter of most state tort law, the government can destroy a person's house if it would help prevent a forest fire or slow an invading army -- i.e. the government has wide powers in times of public emergency -- under this analysis, the government may even be able to take the property without any compensation (public necessity privilege -- affirmative defense to trespass). I think either of these would be warranted when there are medical professionals short on such supplies, and yet people are hoarding those very supplies in their garage. I expect to hear counterarguments about the coercive power of the state, etc. But this is precisely the type of situation in which the expanded power of the state is necessary and such actions are certainly not unprecedented.

  65. My wife's suggestion is to give them away. The huge loss financially he would suffer would be a low price for gaining an important lesson in moral inaction.

  66. Profiteering off a pandemic, greed really has no boundaries to some. I do think it’s a bit comical the way the Colvins attempt to justify their blatant price gouging by citing shipping costs and claiming our price gouging laws are not up to date, we must’ve all been born yesterday. We all have to make money and provide for our families. Others find more creative ways of doing so but this seems to cross the line of moral decency.

  67. Ethically this is right up there with war profiteering. Love the guy who rationalizes this as a public service! These kind of pernicious characters are always around in a crisis. Glad Amazon is putting a stop to it and encouraging others to as well.

  68. Need to set an example to prevent this type of behavior going forward. Either he donates the materials to hospitals/nursing homes etc, for some sort of tax break, or he sells the material at face value.

  69. "He quickly sold all 2,000 of the 50-packs of masks on eBay, pricing them from $40 to $50 each..." That alone made him around $90,000. Capitalism at its worst. This is why Bernie Sanders still has the support he does. The Coronavirus's affect on the US would have been much less severe if we had had a national health plan in place.

  70. I know it’s unconstitutional but authorities should come in and seize those goods if he is unwilling to part with them for the greater good of society.

  71. @MileHigh: It’s not unconstitutional under the preamble “ ... promote the well being of the People...” of the Constitution.

  72. This 'person' is acting like it is stuck with the products. No, it is not stuck with the products. It can sell all these products on Amazon so long as it sells them at the fair price. The products will sell since they are desperately needed, it just will not make as large of a profit.

  73. In war time, hoarding, like profiteering, is a crime. We are at war. This is a crime.

  74. If he had any moral compass at all, he'd figure out the average of what any item cost him, and get in touch with local hospitals and offer to sell them what they need at +$3 per item or per case in order to cover his gas costs.

  75. @Ja Cxliv I hear you, but I disagree somewhat: he has already made plenty of slick profits. I don't think that he's entitled to any more. He should give the rest of what he has pillaged away.

  76. Capitalism = "what the market will bear"= profiteering. A simple economic philosophy, and the basis of the U.S. "free market" system.

  77. Mr. Colvin said he is performing a public service. He should prove it and donate his stash to local hospitals who have run out of hand sanitizer and masks. He claims he exploited the inefficiencies in the marketplace but this is really more of an example of the tragedy of the commons. What is good for him as a businessman is bad for society. Greed is not good, especially now when we as a society have to work together to limit the spread of Coronavirus.

  78. hear ! hear ! GREAT POST !!!!

  79. Next thing we'll find out is that Wall Street, Trump and the Republicans will try to come up with some method to commoditize paper about essential products during a contagion. I know Mitch is in Ky and will never come out of his stupor, but the Democrats should start thing about laws regarding hoarding for profit.

  80. Here's an object lesson in why we need good government. The free market, and profit motives, will always fail to respond effectively to a pandemic. For all who've argued for drowning government in the bathtub, know that the ONLY practical response of civilization to a pandemic comes from unified action and cooperation - in short, the systems of government itself. You can't fight this on an individual level and win. This is a virus that is transmitted regardless of social, economic or political boundaries. We will reduce its impact by working together nationally and internationally, and any who try to bluster and lie and foment division will inevitably be crushed under the inexorable wheels of COVID-19, when hot air bloviation meets reality.

  81. The ultimate expression of MAGA, look out for #1. Our president expresses this desire for our country. It should be no surprise when citizens say "it's not my responsibility".

  82. Thought the same thing. Right when I read the piece I thought this is MAGA in action.

  83. Much has been said about Mr. Colvin, most of it I agree with. But what about the retailers? Why did it take "growing criticism" for Amazon and other retailers to crack down on this? A simple algorithm could have detected this type of thing the same day it started. How much did Amazon, eBay, Walmart, etc make from this before they cracked down?

  84. I agree. Amazon should also be held accountable,

  85. Wow. Just, wow. I am about as tolerant of the peccadilloes of capitalism as one can be of a system that is empirically destroying the planet's ability to support human life. But this takes the cake. Maybe he can make some of his money back by auctioning off his collection of Ayn Rand novels. "Good condition, some pages stuck together."

  86. @Tim Moerman Perhaps Paul Ryan will be a buyer.

  87. A public service will be to sell these stockpiles for a small profit to cover the costs for acquiring these goods plus thin profit margin for the service itself. Price gouging isn’t a public service. While I try to extend my sympathy to a lot of people in this crisis, I found it hard to extend it to this man and his brother. In fact, with emergency declaration by most states in this country, I wonder if his stockpile can be confiscated and redistributed for the greater good. That’ll be the only good thing left to do. Shame on this man!

  88. Much of what he has in his garage is flammable and he is putting his family and neighbors at risk. Also, I doubt that his property is zoned for that - I suspect that after this article, he will be visited by some EPA/OSHA/etc authorities. Crazy speculation doesn’t usually work out well in the end - although he made a few companies happy with his purchases in the short term.

  89. @Mark Yes he has them stored in his garage and a self-storage unit. It makes me wonder how many other flammable products are stockpiled in self-storage facilities around the country.

  90. This is terrifying that we have people who think this is okay to behave in this manner. I am a dentist and we are unable to purchase our regular masks due to low supply and therefore we have to buy less protective masks. Its sad that these two men think they are victims when as healthcare providers we have to worry that we will run out of supplies and no longer be able to serve patients as well as realize that we will be less protected so that people like these two men can rich.

  91. Here's a challenge- Amazon requires some sellers to price-match if a potential customer has found the same item elsewhere for less money than listed. Problem solved; "Family Man" back to square one...to grift another day.

  92. I would hope that his local health department is on the way right now to requisition the supplies he has so thoughtfully laid in. I’m sure the local hospitals, first responders, and other front line workers would be able to put those supplies to good use. If the county was especially generous, they might refund the cost of goods that they paid, but since the brothers are “business men” maybe it would be more appropriate for them to claim the cost basis that they paid as a business loss on their 2020 taxes, along with the medical costs associated with the tarring and feathering they so rightly deserve from their fellow citizens.

  93. If he believes he is stuck with the products, then return them for a refund so they can be resold to people and families that need them.

  94. I hope the NYT does a follow up article on this story, after Mr. Colvin, his brother, and Mr. Anderson have a chance to read all the comments and hopefully realize the life and death consequences of their actions.

  95. This is immoral and creating more public panic. He takes advantage of the crisis and potentially harms the society, especially the people who really need the goods. Thumbs-up for Amazon's action.

  96. I can’t help but notice his shirt and imploring, defeated look as if this wasn’t a completely foreseeable situation he created for himself. Anyone arguing that price gougers serve a positive economic purpose clearly hasn’t spent ten minutes around people in a crisis. Economics falls apart when actors turn irrational, which is the kindest word I’d use to describe this opportunist.

  97. I look forward to a (free) copy of the Colvin Cookbook that features all the new ways that hand sanitizer can be incorporated into his favorite new dishes and cocktails. Maybe there will be an accompanying brochure showing the many new household uses for hand sanitizer. But perhaps what I most eagerly anticipate is the news that his home has been burgled and that a anonymous charity has made his stockpile available to the public...free. Two per customer.

  98. During a non-emergency situation I have no problem with people buying low and selling high. That's business as usual. But this? Profiteering off of people in a time of crisis? They ought to pass a law a jail people for doing things like this.

  99. People like Mr. Colvin have added to the severe lack of sanitizing products that everyone needs during the coronavirus outbreak. There are so many members of our population who have a hard time making it during normal times paying normal prices, and who cannot possibly pay outrageous prices for necessary items. It's amazing that he doesn't understand the HE IS exactly like Billy Bob in his gas station example. I find it quite satisfying to see this kind of person, who is willing to profit by price-gouging people during a national emergency, stuck with his stock. I hope it puts him out of business.

  100. Growing up soon after WW2, I heard lots of stories of people making huge profits selling goods that were rationed. Butter, eggs, tires, nylons, etc. It was called the black market and buying or selling was considered a serious felony, with harsh punishments. What these "gentlemen" are doing should be treated the same.

  101. As a mother of three children, this is exactly the kind of human I hope my kids don’t grow up to be. I understand hard work, and I admire people who hustle to support their families. However, there is a very clear line these people are crossing. This is an insult and complete disregard for the health professionals who need this in order to keep helping sick patients, and for all of us who are trying to keep our families safe. Not to mention their great contribution to the already panicked masses by making us run around looking for sanitizing supplies we can actually afford.

  102. Capitalism can be a force for good -- but also for greed, opportunism and predation. During a pandemic, please let it be a force for good, not evil.

  103. @S. Marie Capitalism can be a force for good...builders of 100 foot yachts and Gulfstreams agree.

  104. Unbelievable. I hope the virus passes quickly and he's stuck with all that product. If his family has that much extra cash to buy all that stuff, maybe he should donate to people who don't have anything. That goes for all the other low lifes hoarding at Target and other retailers.

  105. Unbelievable. I hope the virus passes quickly and he's stuck with all that product. If his family has that much extra cash to buy all that stuff, maybe he should donate to people who don't have anything. That goes for all the other low lifes hoarding at Target and other retailers.

  106. I admire the entrepreneurial effort. I admire, even more, that these individuals are getting what they deserve. In some places price gauging results in prison terms and sometimes worse. In other words, be glad that your only problem is unsalable inventory and perhaps save face by finding a fair way to distribute much needed product.

  107. @John Virgone Zero value add. Zero entrepreneurial effort.

  108. @Almighty Dollar Who in your mind mentioned value add? Entrepreneurial effort was top notch, but criminal.

  109. I have zero sympathy for this creature. Had he sold at a reasonable mark up he’d still be selling and would have made a profit. By being greedy he pays the price. He has a table. Good. He can set up a stand and sell it locally and donate some. Great plan to put it in a garage where storing it in the heat when it comes is not good for it. Having said that, people need to stop buying from such over priced merchants. Good for Amazon.

  110. Wow. What to do with these supplies? How about donate them to hospitals, or sell them to hospitals at cost.

  111. The decent thing to do would be to distribute them to the elderly and vulnerable who live on their own. They could start a go fund me to help with that, but not to exploit it.

  112. @aqua Disagree with you; it's always great to give away other peoples money. You wouldn't be saying that if the money was coming out of YOUR bank account.

  113. The whole of the country is now under a state of emergency. The government should seize these goods and pay this man prevailing market pricing plus reasonable set % markup over market value in acknowledgement of his business prerogative to turn a profit on his initiative, which now constitutes participation in price gouging during a national crisis and so is subject to penalty by authorities. Officials can then distribute these items to health facilities, schools, nursing homes, at- risk and impoverished populations. In no way should a private citizen or any business be permitted to sell crucial goods during a national crisis with a business as usual mentality. People like this man should be ashamed. This is not a "hot" fashion item or an in-demand tech good. I am glad he has been prevented from unloading his items online, but I would like to see these 17,000 items in the hands of those who need them. As with iminent domain, authorities should seize these items, compensate this man reasonably and send a clear message to others that at a time like this, such behavior will not profit them and will not be tolerated.

  114. @Name The vast quantity of hoarding is happening at the individual household level. Individual households are buying a year or more of product. Try confiscating that.

  115. Has anyone been to a supermarket in the past few days? It's shocking that with no actual disruption of supplies, people are acting as if Armageddon is this Tuesday at 7:45. Also, really have not seen (certainly nationally) but even locally enough government or media asking folks to be a bit considerate so that everyone can have a chance to get items they need at the stores. So far we have seen a lot of panic, self interest, and greed concerning our own survival without giving much thought to our neighbors. Sad commentary, and not exactly a Christian virtue.

  116. Could this be an opportunity for the government and to exercise eminent domain? Pay the gentleman a fair market price and then redistribute to people who actually need the products. That seems to fit the constitutional requirements for seizing private property for the public good.

  117. @ScottyV He's no "gentleman" and he shouldn't get any payment for his profiteering. Just lock him up and confiscate his products.

  118. Forget the selling. For clearing shelves of these badly needed products at the time of a pandemic alone he should be immediately arrested and made an example of through some emergency measures that should be in place to quickly curtail and punish this type of abhorrent, no, heinous behavior. I think the article headline is morally ambiguous in its presentation of the guy and this story as well. Human demonry personified would have been more appropriate.

  119. Lots of local stall holders sell homemade soaps and cleaning products. Back to the future, before imports, when everything was hand made at home or in a garage. Make your own home made, cottage industry hand sanitiser.

  120. How would this man and his family feel if they had an immuno-compromised family member and they were unable to purchase disinfectant or wipes because someone in their community had purchased all available products to sell online at an exorbitant cost? He could single-handedly be responsible for members of his community (and as far as he traveled to wipe out stores) getting sick or even dying. Shame on him.

  121. I’m not sure how we’re better off not being able to buy this stuff. It needs to move from his garage into the homes where it’s needed, and the easiest and fairest way to facilitate that move is the market mechanism. I mean, no offense to the hundreds of commenters who have missed this important point, but this is basically textbook principles of microeconomics stuff.

  122. @Paul Fisher, PhD Who has the money for the marketplace? The privileged, not those who can't afford it.

  123. @Paul Fisher, PhD Oh, we understand the microeconomics. What he's lacking is fulfilling his ETHICAL responsibilities.

  124. It sems that you have missed the point here. These are not enterprising small business persons exercising the basic principles of microeconomics; they’re just short of criminals exploiting a national state of emergency for their own personal benefit. They have said as much explicitly. The easiest way to facilitate the market mechanism would seem to be the temperature- and humidity-controlled market where the products were already located. Every day that those products sit in a garage, exposed to the elements, they deteriorate. So not only has this profiteer taken badly-needed supplies out the marketplace, he is rendering them useless to anyone. Restitution should include donation, by the gougers themselves, of the supplies to hospitals and other institutions in need. If they can get in a truck to drive all over the state to clean the stores out, they can get right back in those vehicles and distribute. In no way do these criminals deserve to be compensated for their behavior. It is also the fault of Amazon to an extent, where they stepped in only after the community pressured them to. Prior to that pressure, Amazon took their cut. Further restitution should be from Amazon, in the form of donations of any and all fees or commissions charged to these sellers by Amazon to institutions in need. It’s the least that they could do.

  125. This article illustrates another reason I avoid Amazon and similar online merchants that are merely marketplaces for independent (and unaccountable) third parties: the inventory is likely stored for who knows how long in some dude's garage, repackaged, manhandled, etc. No wonder you see so many complaints in Amazon reviews from customers who receive outdated, mismarked, previously opened products.

  126. Yep it’s getting worse, although I find it more problematic on Amazon vs eBay.

  127. Mr. Colvin views this as a public service?? How is that, when he was selling these critical supplies at an exorbitant price? If he really cared about societal welfare, he would be distributing the items free of charge directly to senior citizen centers or homeless shelters.

  128. So sad to hear of their misfortunes. /s Unfortunately, there will be high risk patients in the area of their buying that may contract the illness without preventive measures and can die. I hope people think of the consequences when trying to get rich quick at other's expense.

  129. Nothing is stopping him from giving them all away. He can take a business deduction. Or charitable deduction.

  130. How about donate them to the local hospital or urgent care so that they can maybe give it away to people who really need it right now like the elderly. That'll help him be a true hero and possible erase his missteps. We need everyone to support each other and not think of profiting in this challenging time.

  131. Taking the risk of buying up product from a wholesaler of old medical supplies and redistributing it at a profit is one thing and would agree that that is a service. Stripping the already-distributed supplies from shelves and redistributing them at a much higher price is another. Maybe you don’t have a lot of medical knowledge, but you know the disease is spreading and caused one death, which caused you to start clearing shelves. In addition to the direct harm that comes from missing masks, sanitizers, etc. there is indirect harm as empty shelves create more panic and hoarding and fear. There are many who will profit from corona: paper manufacturers, sanitizer-makers, hospitals, medical groups, etc as we live in a for-profit system. None of them would talk about it to the nyt and there are definitely gougers among them.

  132. There is a shortage of these items. I do not like the way these guys approached this "opportunity". However, realize that there is A SHORTAGE. And individual households are hoarding, buying years' worth of supply, not for profit, but out of panic. Whether these guys buy to resell at a profit or individual households buy to safeguard their own selfish interest, supply would run out. So... would you rather be in a situation in which you could be an adequate supply at a highly inflated price or in a situation in which nothing is available at any price?

  133. @tew There is a "shortage" in some areas precisely because of these people. Buying out entire store's inventory created the shortage in those areas. Nothing natural about that. Reprehensible.

  134. Using your logic, the cost of corona virus tests should float to the market as there is a shortage and a lot of demand. In other countries this logic gets one locked up.

  135. @ColoK No. There are two ways to match supply with demand. One is the price mechanism. The other is rationing. In most cases, for most goods and services, the price mechanism is best. In the case of the tests, the rationing mechanism is best. And that is how the tests are being administered. They are being rationed based on a set of rules. The stringency of the rules will relax as more tests become available.

  136. Amazon and eBay should step up and now allow the sellers of the banned masks etc to sell them at a set pre-panic price/range, so at least this supply is not just sat on. And limit buyers to a set quantity of these products.

  137. Amazon isn't preventing that. They are not saying what price is acceptable, but these people could market them for the pre panic price. I think most are choosing not to.

  138. @Matt S. No, unfortunately they have blocked all further listings of these products, to head off price gouging. Likely because this was an easier method to implement than making changes to the selling platform with new restrictions re prices on a given item. I know Amazon already has the means to quickly take down product listings (usually done for products flagged as counterfeit, infringing on another trademark, etc), but they do not seem to typically regulate pricing by the 3rd party sellers. Maybe that should/will change now.

  139. To the extent that this person's actions put others at greater risk of contracting (and therefore spreading) coronavirus, this person should be prosecuted. Colvin's business model is to profit by endangering people, and then making money off of their desperation to protect themselves, their families, and people who are most vulnerable to the virus; this can't be legal!! This is also such a sad counterpoint to the camaraderie and solidarity we hope to see in times of national and international disasters and crises.

  140. I think what this person did is wrong. But how is it different from yield management pricing practiced by airlines, hotels, rental cars or surge pricing by Uber? When a big company does it it's capitalism. When the little guy does it, it's price gouging?

  141. @ws because this is a public health crisis, not a nuisance or convenience issue. Essential supplies that are being hoarded by people like this can mean life or death for hospital workers.

  142. @The bear And so price gouging is ok when its done in a slow pernicious way that accumulates wealth at the top of society? I'm playing devils advocate a bit here, but we can't have one set of rules for little people and another for big companies. That is what is wrong with economy in general.

  143. While hand sanitizer does need to be shipped via ground transport, it does not cost $10 per bottle of sanitizer to ship it that way. Further, as many people are trying to get enough hand sanitizer to last a couple of weeks to a month, the actual shipping costs per bottle would go down. This guy is an experienced, unethical manipulator who is continuing, through this story, to try to manipulate people for his own personal gain.

  144. These supplies should be commandeered without compensation by his local or state health authority. And the stockpilers should be sentenced to unpaid community service in a local hospital. But they must also pay what they charged others for the masks and soaps they use.

  145. No sympathy for these guy at all. He's one of the people driving panic and the reason store shelves are empty when there is no shortage of anything. How is him buying all the locally available supplies and redistributing at a higher price a service?

  146. He should be allowed to sell them soon Amazon for whatever Amazon's maximum price was; that, or Amazon should be shut down as well.

  147. Untethered capitalism at its worst.

  148. Greed doesn't buy you peace of mind, but it will ruin your reputation.

  149. Romans 14:12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

  150. The last sentence of this article is absolutely perfect

  151. If there is a shortage of Corona tests and his family has symptoms will he complain? His justification that it costs him money to bilk the public shows that he is an awful business man.

  152. This is absolutely grotesque. A true leader would have been rallying the nation to work together for the good of all as though the virus were a war. Profiteering is the worst incarnation of capitalism imaginable in a crisis. These immoral people should now distribute their goods for free to needy hospitals and clinics. Makes me feel sick to be American.

  153. This new Covid-19 Gekko: "Greed is Good."

  154. He should donate his stock to shelters, hospitals, other not-for-profits in atonement.

  155. The cost of his labor must exceed thousands of dollars per hour. He reminds me of the pharma bro.

  156. If a pandemic is the Moral Equivalent of War, then Mr. Colvin qualifies as a war profiteer.

  157. This is capitalism, folks. It runs on greed. It enables greed. It allows and encourages greed.

  158. Anyone thinking that it might be a prime opportunity to profit off of a deadly pandemic, should be forced to read this article: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/03/13/world/asia/coronavirus-death-life.html Then ask yourself what consequences your greedy hoarding has produced. I challenge anyone not to be in tears at the end of this article. You'd have to be dead inside or a narcissistic sociopath (I can think of one) not to empathize with these patients/families. Both of these people worked in hospitals where supplies were running low. This is what we are all facing. Yes, it is scary, but be we better than our fearful reactions. Short-term profit and greed at the expense of others is not what makes a "family man" let a lone a decent human being.

  159. Mr Colvin should be forced to donate his supplies to hospitals, and Amazon should donate all of the 15% they made from these unethical sales to medical aid for uninsured Americans.

  160. Mr Colvin represents the worst of the worst. Thanks to Mr Colvin and his greed. Older people like myself and my friends, many of whom have pre exiting health conditions are further placed at risk . Because,Mr Colvin and his morally bankrupt cohorts have taken it on themselves to buy up, hoard then sell at outrageous prices , items that help contain the spread of this virus. During WW2. Black marketeers in Britain were imprisioned for this type of sickening behavior. I hope people like Mr Colvin will very soon experience the same fate.

  161. This is 100% profiteering from a pandemic. There are no two ways about it. While others cancel plans and self-isolate to slow the spread and help the public, Matt and Noah Colvin decide it's a good idea to leach away a few dollars for themselves. Absolutely disgusting and despicable.

  162. I doubt that Mr. Colvin and his fellow disaster profiteers ever bothered paying attention in english class . If they had they might have heard the limerick "There was a young lady of Niger Who smiled as she rode on a tiger; They returned from the ride With the lady inside, And the smile on the face of the tiger" I hope the enjoy the the taste of hand sanitizer.

  163. Having looked for hand sanitizer - and toilet paper - at Amazon and seen the outrageous prices, I'm glad these price-gouging sellers are being shut down. But let's be honest here: It took weeks for Amazon to do that, and given that they take a cut, we can assume they weren't unhappy about the situation - until it became public.

  164. "But I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me." Too late.

  165. And to those who are responding in disgust to the immoral behavior of Matt and like minded individuals, this is a feature, not a bug of the system. And keep in mind that these people are small fry compared to the corporations and wall street engaged in this type day in and day out.

  166. Welcome to capitalism Mr. Colvin---it's fraught with risk. Good luck to ya!