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

Mar 14, 2020 · 551 comments
Burning River (Northeast Ohio)
If you didn't want to be in the newspaper maybe you shouldn't have agreed to be in the newspaper.... Also, zero sympathy for your situation. Profiteers take all the financial risk while the public suffers. Well played, buddy.
cg (Vermont)
Sorry but not at all. Sure I get it that he wants to provide for his wife and child, but at the expense of others' lives? Geez! Get a Go Fund Me thing going and send it all OUT for FREE! You have caused enough suffering in those small communities who are supplied by those “little hole-in-the-wall dollar stores in the backwoods” who can't restock like a WalMart, CVS, or Walgreens can. Really man, shame on you.
--Respectfully (Massachusetts)
Everyone is rightly condemning this egregiously awful behavior. We should keep that outrage in mind when we ourselves are tempted to grab every last package of pasta or chicken thighs or toilet paper at our local grocery store. These are confusing and frightening times for all of us, and while most of us won't have character failures as blatant as those depicted in this article, we're all going to be making a lot of smaller moral judgments on the fly in the coming weeks. Let's be sure to make the right ones. #AmericaStrong
Monica (bergen county, nj)
Make YouTube videos of you donating the hand sanitizers to needed people. Perhaps you can make money off that.
Brigid Hahn (Dublin)
Mr. Colvin, How many persons in the communities you looted may now have Covid-19?
Susan (Connecticut)
No one would have to pay 16.00 to get hand sanitizer to their door, they could have picked it up for a couple bucks at the store if not for jerks like this guy.
leeserannie (Tucson)
And what about the stores that allowed their shelves to be cleaned out of needed supplies by these U-Hauling Billy Bobs, leaving none for their regular customers? Were there kickbacks involved?
Karen Ruel (NH)
If Mr Colvin had left all those supplies on the store shelves where he found them, people would have found them and paid the correct price. He and his “labor” wasn needed at all. He should be charged with price gauging. If he had any kind of principals or morals he’d bring his supplies to a local food pantry to distribute. What a jerk.
Rich (TX)
These people express the classic rationalization that Captialists are prone to, and why - for its own good - Capitalism needs regulatory guardrails. At its best Capitalism is a case of producing efficiently, selling at higher than cost, and making a profit that is sustainable. At its worst it's a case of cornering a market, heavily inflating prices, and gouging customers, a practice that is neither sustainable nor healthy. These people represent a class of Capitalistic parasites. To seek out niche markets to corner and exploit them is bad enough. One man emphasizes that he is a "family man" with a "family business" (see shirt). All the more reason to behave ethically - what are you teaching your kids? To take advantage of what 2 months ago could have been seen as just a *potential* health crisis is both unlawful in some jurisdictions and unethical everywhere. Attempting to corner a market in *medical* supplies is just plain wrong. And it's very telling that the gougers don't know what to do with this stuff. Evidently they aren't aware of charity (ever heard of the Red Cross?), or for that matter, selling the supplies to a wholesaler or medical supply house. In the current climate, someone *other than a gouger* would love to make them available to those in need. They should be ashamed of themselves as citizens, neighbors, and human beings. I hope their kids learn ethics in church and school, because they sure won't be learning at home.
Christopher (Buffalo, NY)
It seems foolish to allow yourself to be identified and photographed in front of your garage in Hixon Tenn, which I can only assume is a small town. Aren't you worried about theft and harassment?
Doremus Jessup (Moving On)
We already know this person has no conscious, don’t think he has a heart ether. Cold blooded user.
bp (neutral onserver interplanetary traveler)
All those companies buying goods from slave labor countries and then marking them up outrageously should be prosecuted along with these guys. Just because a huge number of companies are doing it does not make it right. Too bad for so many socialists who disagree in US of which I see there are many in this comments section. Never knew there were so many NY Times socialists but they show their true color in these comments.
Sandra (Roma Italy)
What the heck am I going to do with all this?Seriously? Since he probably made already a profit ,he could donate ( to make amend for his actions ) to hospitals. I do not understand I he can put his face on the NYT, beyond belief!
Patrick Davila (Nyc)
If he can’t do anything with his supplies then he should donate them
leeserannie (Tucson)
And what about the stores that allowed their shelves to be cleaned out of needed supplies by these U-Hauling Billy Bobs, leaving none for their regular customers? Were there kickbacks involved?
joster (savannah)
Please donate these to nursing homes,red cross,homeless camps etc. Be the hero not the hoarder.
DC8 (Hong Kong)
he actually wanted to share his story? WoW! oh i forgot, and pose for photos as well. HHmmm
bay1111uq (tampa)
His face and name are all over the world. He is fake as any evil person. Please don't consider yourself as a army Vet like me. Military personnel would never do this kind of stuff by inflating credible supplies Wish your families well.
HR (Maine)
Interesting that this guy and likely thousands of others who buy retail and resell at a mark up (mostly online - I know - on Ebay and Amazon) won't get choked to death like Eric Garner who sold "loosies" on the street corner.
GGram (Newberg, Oregon)
What perfect irony! Jeff Bezos prohibiting a citizen from hoarding! How many bathrooms in his latest home.....? 23 you say?
Cynthia (TN)
I'm the "backwoods, middle of nowhere" resident who has been unable to buy hand sanitizer.... because of greedy sellers like these guys ripping people off during a global outbreak. I am very happy the price-gougers are now stuck with their inventory. They have no shame; bragging about themselves and posing for NYT photos. Unapologetically. This is a very ugly side of capitalism.
JPKirk (New Jersey)
"Over the next three days, Noah Colvin took a 1,300-mile road trip across Tennessee and into Kentucky, filling a U-Haul truck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and thousands of packs of antibacterial wipes, mostly from “little hole-in-the-wall dollar stores in the backwoods,” So the products were already distributed, priced appropriately and available to a large cross section people in need. This bozo intentionally destroys that structure and then, steeped in narcissism and lacking any level of self realization, whines that he and his brother as victims? Clown.
Duckkdownn (Earth)
“From being in a situation where what I’ve got coming and going could potentially put my family in a really good place financially to ‘What the heck am I going to do with all of this?’” Ummmm...perhaps offer it to local and regional pharmacies at a fair price. But that seems to be beyond you.
Mary Elizabeth Lease (Eastern Oregon)
Colvin's story is the story of all successful capitalists. Only difference is Colvin didn't get an MBA first and learn how to cover his tracks and insulate himself from the PR. Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital How the GOP presidential candidate and his private equity firm staged an epic wealth grab, destroyed jobs – and stuck others with the bill https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-183291/
Shelby (Virginia)
Indecent people doing indecent things.
JoJo (CA)
surprising that a person who's hoarding items that could help his community doesn't see himself the same way everyone else does. He and his family seem like they're cruel & selfish...
Mary Elizabeth Lease (Eastern Oregon)
With this article the NYT is complicit in providing cover for arbitragers who gouge billions of dollars every day from markets around the globe on a daily basis. Pay no attention to Big Pharma and the financial sector whose very existence is based on profiteering in times of crisis.
Chad (Louisiana)
I'm glad he's stuck with them. I'm glad he's in a small town where now Boone else can sanitizer their hands. I love when foolproof plans fool the fool.
This is not in good taste. But isn't this what corporate America does? Sell T-shirts for $20-$50 a piece when they cost like 50 cent to make? Put a logo a bag that cost $20 make and sell it for $200? Truth be told, that toilet paper you're buying mass quantities at the supermarket cost a fraction of what it cost the companies to produce it. You can't fault the guy for being part of the system which encourages this kind of behavior.
GM (Universe)
Federal marshal should raid his warhorse in Hixson and confiscate 100% of his stock. Period.
Alan MacDonald (Wells, Maine)
What the small-thinking and greedy "brothers Matt and Noah Colvin" did in their 'back-fired' plan to get rich by 'playing' others immediately reminded me (or caused my involuntary "analogy-thinking" brain to flash into my conscious-mind) was Earl Shorris' fabulously insightful book, "A Nation of Salesmen: The Tyranny of the Market and the Subversion of Culture", which I bought from Jack at Jack's second floor bookstore above the monument center of Dock Square Kennebunkport, Maine, hardcover, in Christmas of 1994 as a present for myself because Jack recommended it --- and it was the beginning of my retirement thinking about what was really important in life, instead of thinking about how to out strategize IBM. "A Nation of Salesmen" could have been called "A Nation of Con-Men" --- because that's what has turned Fitzgerald's beautiful 'American Dream' into a sick dream of American grifters and finished the job of turning our democracy into this TVad Empire of lust for only money. Secondly, the Brothers Colvin, triggered the "analogy-thinking" image of the technically Wall Street legal crooks who 'play', front-run, and manipulate that big fast market's saw blade --- up & down, up & down, up & down in nanoseconds --- while making profits in both directions, without the 'body politic' even sensing any numbness in its limbs from the Empire's excellent excision.
Rachel (Oklahoma)
This is disgusting on all counts and I hope anybody doing this gets fined heavily or sent to jail for it. At the same time though, shame on the stores for not seeing this coming and restricting the amount you could purchase at a time in the first place. Disgusting, on all accounts.
Alex (Cleveland TN)
It’s pathetic for these selfish people hoarding all the essentials items that people need during the time if crisis... it’s so wrong!!! Makes profit when there are no storms..!! During time of storm people should stick together and help each other.... “UNITED STATES!! To get through these tragedies... I wish the laws should punish them... greedy and selfish are not UNITED!
RickNYC (Brooklyn)
Sell sneakers, or something else that’s are hard to get. Anything to do with health, even on his relatively small scale, puts him in the same camp as Pharma Bro Martin Skreli. Terrible form by a selfish profiteer.
reality check (Portland)
How dumb do you have to be to go public and lament your "misfortune" for hording and price gouging much needed emergency supplies, and call it a "public service"? Mr Colvin you'll going down in public records as a symbol of greed, and be responsible for some of the public suffering from this pandemic. if you had any common sense this is the time to go hide.
Kahlil Calvo (Chicago, IL)
Guaranteed you, your brother & your family has complete antimicrobial stuff & if ur neighbors or other people dont have those items....will it protect you from getting the virus? Imagine of your comrades dont have 1...would you be happy? You are an americqn soldier. You shouldn't have taken advantage of the situation. Goodluck on your sales.
Joseph B (San Francisco)
“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.” I’ve got some bad news for ya buddy... In Korea or Japan they would parade this guy onto the evening news and make him bow his head and beg forgiveness. I don’t know how they do things in Texas, but he will be incredibly fortunate if he can avoid getting seriously hurt before this is all over...and I’m not talking about financially.
LesISmore (RisingBird)
Arrogant, thinks he's doing a public service. nAnd he will be known for being (one of) a guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of hand sanitizer.
Matthew Weflen (Chicago, IL)
Choose a reprehensible behavior common to human beings, and you will find a specious libertarian argument to defend it.
Matt (Bridgewater, NJ)
How disgusting. The upside is that he provided his name and people will be able to find him in the event of an emergency. He better watch himself.
df (nj)
Hope this guy has a gun. He's got a big target and probably receiving death threats now. Which wouldn't be right but is rational and reasonable to expect.
Kathleen (Massachusetts)
The bottom line is that people will die because of this person's greed (and others like him). He has no moral compass, whether what he did was legal or not. I see him and his ilk as evil and despicable.
Nancy (Ann Arbor)
And why did the New York Times use that Instagram-worthy photo of Colvin and his family? So cute, so innocent. So he wants to provide for his family. Good - he makes a six-figure income. Buy and sell those Nikes. But now he is depriving other families of supplies they need to provide for his family. Families that may not have six-figure incomes. Profiteering in the time of emergency is wrong. NYT, don't glamorize him.
Doremus Jessup (Moving On)
@Shannon. Just because he was in the military doesn’t make him smart or special. Actually he’s just a common thief.
Daniel (CA)
The emotion of shame exists in humans for the purpose of making sure this guy gets the lesson that he did a bad thing. He should be ashamed, period.
tommm (Indiana)
No matter how he tries to spin it, he is profiting off someone's need in a very scary time. He is a parasite that feeds on another's fears. This is capitalism at its worst
SW (Sherman Oaks)
I can only cheerfully wish him straight to heck....this will go down in history as the most amoral time lead by an amoral leader, far too many intent on greed over people.
Dave (Carlsbad, CA)
When I look at the charts included in this article, it looks like Amazon was just as guilty of price-gouging. Disgusting.
Ellen K (Dallas, TX)
I don't feel sorry for him, but then again I don't feel sorry for people stupid enough to pay grossly inflated prices for everyday items. Key example would be toilet paper. The shelves are empty. Why? Because some idiots think it will vanish and they plan to take advantage of the situation. True, it is capitalism, but Exxon isn't selling gas at 1000% of retail value. Right now I am angry that so many Americans are so woefully unprepared to handle everyday situations. And I'm sick and tired of people trying to create outcomes via magical thinking. Be an adult, buy your own food, take care of yourself and stop expecting someone in government to save you.
Gale (Vancouver)
I hope he goes broke. Shame on him! People with disabilities driving all over town looking for a bottle of hand sanitizer. People with walkers trying to get some. This guy deserves bankruptcy because he has no decency.
bobdc6 (FL)
What the heck am I going to do with all of this?’ If you're the family man that your T shirt claims, you'll donate it to those who really need it. By hoarding, you have added to our problems.
Jeanie LoVetri (New York)
Seize their booty, give it away as needed. Throw them in jail and fine them. That would solve both problems. Where is Trump's authoritarian attitude where it could finally do some good?
NNI (Peekskill)
Brothers Matt and Noah, you have already made enough crazy money from the coronavirus. Now it is time to show some humanity. Donate all the hand sanitizers to your community for "Free".
qisl (Plano, TX)
Matt, if you are reading this, you should probably pack up your supplies and move out. That, or I hope you 'scrounged' some good weapons from your friends in AFSOC. I never understand why folks allow themselves to be quoted in the NYTimes. There are some conservative blogs suggesting road trips to Hixson TN.
lf (earth)
The Third Man - Screenplay by Graham Greene (Looking down from atop a Ferris wheel) Harry Lime: Victims, don't be melodramatic! Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you £20,000 for every dot that stopped would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare, free of income tax, free of income tax! ...Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don't, why should we? They talk about, the "people", and the "proletariat", I talk about the "suckers" and the "mugs". It's the same thing. They have their five year plans, and so have I. Holly Cotton: You used to believe in God Harry Lime: I still do believe in God old man. I believe in God and mercy and all that, but the dead are happier dead. They don't miss much here, poor devils. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21h0G_gU9Tw
Susan (Connecticut)
How does this "family man" explain to his kids that daddy made a killing by endangering the lives of all the people in communities across multiple states?
simon rosenthal (NYC)
Hording and price gouging should be a crime.  These people should be in prison. During world war two that was the law. It should be now.
Deborah Barry (San Jose, CA)
“Mr. Colvin said he was simply fixing “inefficiencies in the marketplace.” Yes, you and electric utilities, phone company, and cable tv providers —that is why they are regulated and you will be too. Also, “public services” are sold at cost. Mr. Colvin, do your homework!
JM (Boston)
“Scheme to profit on a pandemic backfires” There, I fixed your headline for you. Some additional options: “Attempt to profit on pandemic by hoarding sanitizer contributes to spread of virus” “While some people risk lives to treat the sick, two brothers try to get rich off virus”
Megan (Austin, TX)
This guy is an immoral profiteer. He CREATED the inefficiency in the market that he thinks it is "ok to make a little profit off of" while healthcare workers ration masks in order to keep themselves healthy. Disgusting. I'll wait for the update that he HAS actually donated the sanitizer to those in need.
DD (Florida)
Redeem yourself. Load your goods in a truck, make the rounds of hospitals and nursing homes and drop off supplies gratis. You never know when you may be on the receiving end of someone's greed -- or kindness.
william (nyc)
America is a business, not a country You all should know that by now
Miranda H. (Boston)
Well, Matt Colvin, I hope you have saved all your profits and not plowed them into more purchases. Because during a recession, you can’t live by eating and drinking your hoard of wipes and Purell.
mike4vfr (weston, fl, I k)
I'll save my outrage & take comfort from the inevitable retribution that another of Mr. Colvin's fellow sociopaths will visit on him if he fails to make amends with a prompt, public donation.
Ken (Washington, DC)
He knows what he could do with all that stuff....
Paul (Milwaukee)
This despicable parasitic behavior is the downside of a free market economy. Society must regulate collectively through government action. Public service? Hypocrisy rather.
steve (san francisco)
“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...Who did you say you work for, again?”
Bubbles (Santa Monica California)
Shameful, embarrassing and utterly unamerican! This needs to be redistributed immediately. Please donate this to a national organization like the Red Cross ASAP.
Dave (St Louis, MO)
These guys claim they are doing a public service? Nonsense! They are cornering the supply of products and hoarding them for themselves, depriving people from buying them freely and locally at normal prices, and then only allowing the products to be purchased for up to 20 times the normal price! They are potentially playing with peoples' lives. They are parasites in the system!
qisl (Plano, TX)
The name "Mathew Colvin" doesn't seem to be too lucky. Someone else with the same name once stole some Elton John glasses from a museum. That Colvin said, "I've never done anything even close to this stupid." Hopefully, none of his sons is named Jr.
Steve (Berkeley CA)
Here's what he can do: load up a couple of his trucks and go to a large regional flea market. Sell the masks and sanitizer for $5 each. He'll take in thousands of dollars with 400-500% profit. Not as good as he thought he was going to do but not bad.
Lr (CT)
To me, this just shows what heartless human beings they are. To wipe out every bit of protection everyone will be looking for and need to protect themselves from a vicious, deadly virus is just cruel. I certainly wouldn't pay whatever jacked up price rotten people want to mark something up to just to get my hands on something. I hope they sit on this stuff and lose all that money they spent to hoard it! It's sick! They'd clearly rather see people die.
Shawnie (Oregon)
I can't buy toilet paper in my own town so all I can say for his predicament is GOOD! Now, why don't you do the right thing and donate it to those in need. Let it be a lesson to you.
WeNeedFacts (Riding a Rainbow)
Looks like somebody lacks empathy - big time!
LS417 (NorCal)
The greed and selfishness displayed by Matt and Noah Colvin is no surprise. Humans have been exploiting other humans since the beginning of civilization. What is mind-blowing is the sheer stupidity and/or arrogance to be interviewed by a national newspaper. Using their names and with photographs to boot. Donating the remaining stock to the most vulnerable would be a great way to salvage their reputations. Not holding my breath.
Douglas Cook (Los Angeles)
One word sums this up: karma. He ought to just donate the items to charity, get his garage back and call it a day.
SLD (California)
Dude, you ARE the guy people will remember for taking advantage of others in a bad situation. Did you only think about donating this hand sanitizer after getting this bad press? Karma can come when you least expect it.
ps (wisconsin)
what a sad pathetic excuse for a human being this person is. there's a huge difference between attempting to spot trends like the next big pair of tennis shoes and making money on that versus what this person attempted to do which is to deprive people of needed supplies during an emergency. I wish nothing but the worst for this rotten terrible not human being. I sincerely hope that his business tanks permanently based on word-of-mouth and people realizing that he is morally unfit. if he was willing to do something this heinous you have to figure that everything he does is equally unethical.
Bruno (Canada)
Great guys, would have kept America great but Bezos kicked them out cause he hates me and wants bad things for us. Sad
Valerie Beebe (Kalispell, Montana)
This behavior is inexcusable. There are elderly folks and other vulnerable populations that are being deprived of the need necessities to protect themselves by these selfish self-serving profiteers. Shame on them!
Sallie (NYC)
These men should be ashamed of themselves, but unfortunately not everyone is capable of shame. The Coltons are greedy men who are taking advantage of their fellow citizens in the middle of a crisis.
William B. (Yakima, WA)
Hummmmm, so these 'ol Tennessee boys went up to Podunk, Kentucky and bought 'em out, 'eh??? Many years ago, I was born and raised in the hill country of Kentucky. I guess things have changed since I left 50+ years ago, but when I was growing up back then, when hard times befell folks, others would often stop by and check on them, many times leaving large baskets of homemade food and, if needed, clothing and needed items. Well, all I gotta say is that I know what the folks around where I lived would have done with these two boys...... And, fellas, folks back in those parts don't much forget - and rarely forgive..... Boys, I would hope this turns out to be one of those hard-learned lessons in life for both of ya - that will make you stronger and better human beings, and so now go out and do the right thing and make your folks and your people proud of you!
Bob (The Southwest)
Buy cheep deli gloves to use ($9.25 for 500 of them on Amazon ) I keep them in the car and use them to pump gas and go into stores. Just make sure that you keep one hand as "dirty" and one as clean. I use my "dirty gloved hand to touch the key pads or pump gas, and my clean gloved hand to grab my debit card and put it back. Use your clean hand to remove the dirty glove by reaching inside it to remove it and throw it away, and then your naked hand to do the same with the other glove. Retired RN who wouldn't go back to work for any amount of money.
OaklandResident (Oakland)
There’s something deeply wrong with this man. Can you imagine engaging in such sleazy behavior and then willingly allowing your (and your family’s, even!) photo to appear in a highly visible article describing your misdeeds? And even expecting sympathy for your scam’s failure? The degree of shamelessness is aberrant.
Joanne Lim (Singapore)
Purely profiteering and still trying to defend himself with market demand and supply mechanics and how he was actually doing public service. Disgusting.
TimesnLatte (Pittsburgh)
These supplies are not Tickle Me Elmos to be sold for the highest possible price to gullible buyers. People will die because of this behavior. This guy should eat the loss and donate to the nearest homeless shelter. Shame on him.
Philly (Philadelphia)
Sorry, but this guy is a hoarder and a profiteer. In the not too recent past he could have been executed in some countries.
Concetta (NJ)
I’m disgusted by this guy. He deliberately traveled to multiple states to buy the entire stock of products that can aid us in this pandemic just to make a killing by gouging us. He’s despicable.
Someone (Somewhere)
"Family Man," gimme a break. He's doing it for his family just like "Breaking Bad's" Walter White was doing it for his family. Walt at least eventually had the decency to admit the truth.
Richard (USA)
This is the definition of capitalism. Hoard on, good sirs.
Son Of Liberty (nyc)
I would be willing to bet anyone a case of hand sanitizer that Matt and Noah Colvin voted for Donald Trump.
BEB (Switzerland)
Bravo to EBay.
Louise (New York)
I think it's terrible for anybody to take advantage of a bad situation just to make a buck.U should do the right thing now and donate.As for the stores, shame on u cause u are no better then he is.Every store should have put a limit on how many one could buy.It is a horrible thing when people are more worried about the almighty dollar then the health and wellbeing of others.We should be helping one another in this time of crisis.Smh that this is humanity.Absolute disgrace!
jim bez (chicago)
This is contemptible behavior. Making as much money off a health crisis. And, denying their fellow human beings in the most rural place basic needs. Shame on you.
kay (new york)
Pretty disgusting to hoard life saving items to make money on desperate people. Too many Americans lack empathy and can justify anything to themselves by saying someone else did it, does it, etc. Too many selfish people who have no compassion for others. It was not always this way. Somewhere a long the line money became more important than people to too many small minded people and it is disgusting to see. Greed was/is never good. It is a sickness of the soul. The more greedy one is, the more evil one is.
Sari (NY)
Why not do the right thing and just sell them ( on Amazon ) at the fair retail price. Or, better yet, let this selfish, uncaring person ( probably a republican ) use them in his coffee.
Edward Brennan (Centennial Colorado)
Mr Colvin is a bad person. He is a person without a conscience. I hope everyone socially distance themselves from Mr Colvin and people like him. He is not a friend to humanity, and does not deserve friends. I wonder how Mr Colvin would feel if he, or someone he likes, catch COVID-19, what he would think if the medical profession gouged them for everything they had or more. Or maybe just decided to sell their services to the highest bidder and let people like him die. I bet he wouldn't like that. I bet he would complain. Hypocrites always do. Self-serving, but only when it comes to them serving themselves. The worst humanity has to offer on display.
Hugh Briss (Climax, VA)
Mr. Colvin better hope the IRS isn't reading this article.
Mahsa (California)
What a little human! Trying to make a fortune out of others misery! I am sure you have already made some money, it’s not too late to donate them to your local hospital and people who are in need!
Cassius Kim (Turlock, CA)
This is what happens in a society that worships at the altar of money. The course correction appears to be coming.
Rick (New York, NY)
This guy is as bad as the Pharma Bro., it might be legal but man is this morally wrong.
Lauren (Chicago, IL)
They should donate to local homeless shelters.
A (Vermont)
Maybe trump will offer this guy a bailout (or an 'acting' cabinet position); he sounds like his kind of guy. /sarcasm
Dia Ria (Not There)
The Colvins will probably have to sell their house and move because Hixon is a small place and they will be persons non grata when his neighbors and community find out what they have done. Let’s hope the supplies get to where they are needed and no one suffers.
Margaret Bonny Redlich (University Place, Wa)
"Merchants"? Don't you mean profiteers? Are we supposed to feel sorry for these guys?
K (UK)
I have absolutely no idea why these folks elected to have their name and region printed (not everyone in the article was so dumb). Do they not understand the internet? Did they think it was going to be good for business? Something is very strange about this
NewYorker (NYC)
Matt and Noah Colvin are going to be responsible for people dying.
ivotenc (nc)
I'm sure there's a place for him in Trump's cabinet.
db cooper (pacific northwest)
Matt and Noah Colvin's greedy and unethical buying spree may result in death for some residents of Tennessee and Kentucky. I suggest they take another road trip and donate the remaining hand sanitizer to the communities that they put at risk.
BoldNyr (NYC)
The makings of a future CEO in the Trump circle.
itsmildeyes (philadelphia)
3.5K comments and counting. Looks like these bros struck a nerve. Beneath it all it’s dog-eat-dog, man. Dudes like this will bury our bones in the garden. Human nature. Same as it ever was. Good luck, friends.
MB (California)
Dude, sell them to hospitals & back to amazon for what you bought it for. Or call the manufacturers and let them sell them to back ordered institutions. I’m sure these come pick it up. Do the right thing.
Kat (Decatur)
The Martin Shkreli of Hand Sanitizer. Peak Capitalism at its finest.
Ak (Bklyn)
Price gauging toys is one thing but medical supplies during a pandemic? Aren’t such people hung in public squares with signboards stapled to their chests?
Christina (Oregon)
People like this are s c u m. Hope all of that inventory rots.
Anna (Ohio)
I say hahahaha. That's what you get for price gouging! Anyone or any company, gas, medicines, utilities, payday loans and the like all need prosecuted for price gouging. Especially if you're gouging during a pandemic.
Kathleen (Kailua, HI)
“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, brothers Colvin. Your actions are shameful, no matter how you, and other commenters, try to rationalize it.
Jessica (Memphis,Tn)
How unfortunate that everyone in his own community and surrounding ones is now unable to get sanitizer and wipes. Now he might get sick from someone in his community because he deprived everyone of supplies.
EJ (Nes Ziona)
Let's see if this one passes through - uncut. What about keeping the stuff for long winter night. Alcool burns well, they could save on heating fuel.
Mark Scher (NY)
Maybe Karl Marx was right after all.
kadewi (washington dc)
"Whiplash?" I think he means "backlash" but what the hey. A reflection of ignorance of the English language-- and the commodification of everything, starting from Marmalade Mussolini, and the top down.
BB (Hawai'i, NYC, Mtl)
Shame of him. But this is the capitalist way.......shame on a system taking advantage of pandemics & misfortune.
That anyone of any civility and compassion would think this was appropriate is beyond comprehension. The guy was a greedy, selfish jerk, keeping hundreds of people from getting a product that could save them and their families from being ill or even dying unless they paid an unreasonable amount of money that some may not have been able to afford. This should absolutely be illegal. In times of crisis where people need to work together and think of others, this type of abhorrent behavior is the last thing we need.
Charlie (San Francisco)
Should he have receipts for his items then I suggest he return them for store credit. There are many who really need them. Nevertheless, I am very glad that the producers are stepping up and quadrupling their manufacturing. I am confident that COVID-19 will not exceed the Obama/Biden’s 17 thousand American deaths from H1N1.
GO (New York)
Disgusting that he would try to get rich price gouging an item that people need to stay healthy. That’s like hoarding all the water before a hurricane.
rimy (hawaii)
The audacity of these men to go on record talking about what they've done! No shame, wow!
Jake (Indiana)
This man is everything that is wrong with modern American culture: its rampant individualism with no regard for the well-being of the rest of the community, its unfettered capitalism allowing people to earn profits from others' misery, and (last but not least) its continued encouragement of adult men to wear cargo shorts and white socks in public. Truly disgusting.
D (Connecticut)
Some situations bring out the best and worst in people. I can't believe this pathetic individual and his deplorable actions against vulnerable people. His further sniveling about his so-called hardship really puts a face to the potential for evil in these dire times. It makes you question the mental gymnastic he had to perform to be interviewed for this article as a "victim" in this case. I wish him and his garage of cleansers the best of luck!
JPLA (Pasadena)
These guys are no different than Mnuchin and his foreclosure scheme in the recession. Soap people, soap does the trick. Leave these clowns holding unsaleable products.
MDL (Los Angeles)
Price gouging is the worst thing businessmen can do. Instead of helping others to prevent the spread of coronavirus, they deprived people of their safety for money! To this man, there is no such thing as labor cost when people can get them at the stores if you didn’t wipe them out! EAT YOUR HAND SANITIZERS! Low life!
Grier (Texas)
This is shameful. The nerve for him to think he is the victim is sad. He has already profited from his greed. Donate the rest and redeem whatever is left of your character.
Jeremy (Vermont)
My heart bleeds for this guy. Hope it all dries up before he can sell it. He's a vulture. Maybe he will feel ashamed and do the right thing.
Carol Kahn (New York)
Anyone who hoards coronavirus-related materials such as hand sanitizers, masks, or even toilet paper and then tries to sell them at a profit is a black marketeer and the worst kind of human being. There are other ways to make an honest dollar without playing on people's fears and misery. Shame on Matt Colvin and his brother. They should now donate their stash to hospitals and health care centers.
Lino (Chicago)
Their behavior and reasoning for it is appalling and hypocritical at best. Illegal and morally reprehensible at worst. There's not one iota of sympathy in me for these profiteers.
Linnea Mielcarek (Los Angeles)
the collins brothers and the rest of those despicable hoarders wanting to make a profit off of people who can't find their health needs at stores that these creeps bought everything out of should be fined and spend time in jail for their greed. these clowns show just how greedy people will do things to make a buck.
Mathew (New Orleans)
This guy deserves to be cut to pieces by his state AG. Trying to financially benefit his small family at the expense of those within 1,300 miles of him is beyond immoral. His behavior is unconscionable. These aren't sneakers and collectibles, these are lifesaving items. Shameful.
Jim (Cascadia.)
Ah, thank god (jesus if you prefer) American capitalism at “work”. The competitors will effectively erase any advantage you think you have. The knives will be coming out soon.
domplein2 (terra firma)
That happy-face family photo is a disgusting/unpatriotic display of profiteering on the plight of Americans in the grip of the covid19 pandemic. Just one instance of the Orwellian unreality engineered by Trump and propagated by the likes of TN senators like Blackburn and Alexander. It’s a horror show.
Brian (Mexico)
Are we supposed to feel sorry them?
Lorraine (Watkinsville Georgia)
Not sorry for this guy. He’ll proudly be onto the next scam while people are dying. There are always these types of parasites who feed of others misery. Karma will catch up with him and others of his ilk. In the meantime there ought to be laws in place to stop this behavior during a crisis. Shame on the government for not having the foresight to pass legislation. And shame on Amazon (and others who profit from this type of behavior) for not stopping this immediately. Now. Let’s talk about big Pharma......
Will (Texas)
Excellent! Profiteering on the backs of sick and scared people is despicable. Some call it capitalism, and it is a form of that, but most assuredly not one that is worthy of respect or emulation. I hope the guy in this article and all others like him have to eat the hand sanitizer and similar products they’ve hoarded for resale at obscene prices.
George Tyrebyter (Flyover Country)
Gee, now we are supposed to feel sorry for COMPLETE JERKS who attempt to monetize a panic? Nope. Guys like this deserve to lose their shirts.
Erica M. (Portland, OR)
There is nothing wrong with what he did. Here at the local Cash n' Carry a big BAG OF RICE is going for $50! Stores are kicking themselves for not upping their prices when news of the virus hit. "When there is blood in the streets buy property." When the next pandemic hits I am going to buy shares of Clorox and Netflix stock.
Susan Young (Denver)
You already make a 6 figure income and think it is ok to strip shelves of needed supplies during a pandemic. Then make a HUGE profit on your hoard. I hope you are shunned by your community.
Hamilton (Boston)
The fact that he was willing to post pictures of him and his family and use his real name reveals that he has no sense of human decency and morality. Disgusting. He needs to distribute these supplies to hospitals which are running low.
Jay (Northern Virginia)
Honestly, I couldn't finish the article, I was just so disgusted by how he hoarded all of this to make money off of a worldwide pandemic. How terrible can people be. Shame.
Mark Stone (Way Out West)
Hey bud, it's price gouging. You know it. Consider this a lesson and next time do it legally. Pharma.
LN (Pasadena, CA)
This is the worst of human behavior. But the worst is that he agreed to do this article and have pictures taken. No shame.
GWE (Ny)
Gem of a neighbor to have. Not.
Brian (NYC)
Just because you can horde 17,000+ bottles of hand sanitizer doesn't mean you should. Shame on him.
Guillemot (Maine)
Legal or not, Colvin's intention to profit from the pandemic at the expense of the health and maybe even lives of fellow citizens is despicable. Is rampant greed now one of America's guiding values? Has he no shame?
Linda (New York)
17,700 THOUSAND BOTTLES of hand sanitizer? He drove 1,300 MILES to wipe out the stock of many communities, planning to personally PROFIT from this pandemic. No, I don't feel sorry for him.
JSD (New York)
It was not until they were set into the guillotine did many French nobles appreciate how property rights are subject to the consensus of their fellow citizens.
cinegenic (Connecticut)
Any guesses as to how long before Mr. Colvin appears as an honored guest on Fox News, or at a Trump rally?
M.A. O'Neill (Tennessee)
This is despicable and sad. "After The Times published this article on Saturday morning, Mr. Colvin said he was exploring ways to donate all the supplies." Now that Mr. Colvin's actions have been exposed and now that he is paying to store his over-priced loot he is considering donating the items. What goes around, comes around.
rox (chicago)
Do you think this man and his brother told their children, when they asked, "What did you do today, Daddy?," "We killed several of our fellow citizens by keeping medicinal supplies away from the needy." If their children were not shocked and horrified by their fathers' actions, I'd be surprised. What a terrifying thing to be teaching youngsters!!!
drProteus (seattle)
He doesn't want to be that guy...but he is literally that guy. He just doesn't want to be in the paper.
Beannie (Pittsburgh, PA)
Waste $$$$$ for him.. i use to make homemade hand sanitizers and also homemade antibacterial wipers. That would be fine. 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️
Mot (NC)
He does realize that his identity, town he and his family live in, is now known to readers of The NYT, right? And he does realize there are those people that are perhaps a bit more unscrupulous or perhaps desperate in their hunt for a very hard-to-find product, that are now aware of the above info? Sir, I would not want to be in your shoes now for nothing.
Ehab (Mpls)
What a selfish guy -- if you do not see the issue this guy case I am sorry you should not be in the human category. This guy simply stole from the very poor to make money. He stole from the dollar stores and try to make money by reselling the same items to the same people who try to buy from the dollar store. I say they should confiscated the items and teach him a lesson not to do this again.
Pa. Ch (Los Angeles)
I hope no one expects me to feel sympathy for this guy. If he paid $1/bottle and has 17,700 bottles, then he is out over $17,700. Bwaa ha ha.
GR (Canada)
"Addressing market inefficiencies" ... oh please, delusional. A lazy middle man engaging in profit taking that does not in any way justify his effort, talent, or contribution to society. Largely parasitical.
Mare (Ma)
This guy is a true representative of the United States of (Corporate) America!
Cory mac (Ambler)
I don’t feel sorry for this cretin at all. Removing life saving supplies from local communities is shameful. There is a pandemic so the freedom to make a profit argument is not acceptable when lives are at stake. Stores please limit the amount of equipment that you sell to one person. The government should pay him the market value and seize his stash.
lilly (nyc)
I guess he is THAT guy now.
Rafael (Brno)
It’s getting dark. Rats are coming out.
linda (brooklyn)
bet he's got a personally signed copy of 'art of the deal'...
Susan (San Diego, Ca)
This is just a snapshot of the American Way, right?
Kelly Campbell (Long Island, NY)
Capitalism at its worst.
CW (Left Coast)
I advise the Colvins to put all the products in their little old pickup truck and return them to the places they bought them from. I'm sure the stores would be happy to give them a refund.
William Fordes (Santa Monica CA)
Serves him right. He can eat his blasted sanitizer -- like war profiteers, he should be shunned by everybody.
Mary (Dayton Ohio)
Just wondering if Mr Colvin agreed to this article so the Times could be used as his marketplace, circumventing the restrictions imposed by Amazon and eBay.
Dog Walker (Wilmette)
I’m seeing the same thing here, the local hardware store selling single rolls of toilet tissue for $2.50. Did they forget it’s not the apocalypse? In a few weeks when this passes, they will have set any customer relationships on fire. The health food store selling 2 ounce hand sanitizers for $20 will not see me again and the closed karate school with 20 boxes of industrial sized toilet tissue rolls stacked in their window is why the mom & pop cafe can’t order for their use. Stop hoarding! Remember your friends & neighbors & share. That’s how we will get through this.
Well deserved punishment for greed ! Someone will be sick because of what he did ! Free enterprise does not mean hoarding, monopolies and price gouging !
Jessica (Ohio)
I hope people break into his house and also his brother's and anyone else who does this and takes all of it...then none of them will make another cent.
Snidely Snodgrass (Australia)
Wouldn't want to live next to him if they should catch fire.
Shelby (NYC)
Note to the IRS -- audits for every name that appears in this article. No way on earth they are reporting these ill gotten gains honestly.
Franlevin (Michigan)
He could donate to the hospitals And be banned from amazon
EllyNC (NC)
Let’s say a family member needed masks or sanitizer to take care of one of their loved ones. Would he still be as greedy? Think it’s ok to gouge others? This should be illegal and his stash should be confiscated and sent to hospitals in need and homes. Pathetic at least! Criminal most!
It’s New Here (Kansas)
Enforce the laws; send these people to jail.
rocdoc (Charlotte, Vt.)
Ahhh......Capitalism in action! Supply and demand will drive the market. He has learned well! When I was taught about Capitalism, I never heard a word about social responsibility and it is oftentimes missing in action. Please support those businesses that show compassion and responsibility (and many do). As for these guys...pressure them to cough up their stashes and help those in need! Those who support his "entrepreneurial spirit" should join him in an Ethics class which should be mandatory for all!
A Grave Situation (New Rochelle, NY)
These two are just a Modern Incarnation of the 18th and 19th Grave Robbers...except they are not waiting for The Corpses to turn cold.
Alanna (Montana)
Break into his storage unit and take it. This stockpile, keeping people from staying safe, could cause so many more cases. This is selfish behavior and he should be ashamed of himself. He's young, he'll be fine. But the older generation who now cannot get a hold of sanitizer won't be.
Sal (El Paso, Texas)
Thank you Amazon for suspending abusive sellers.
John Pecha (Long Island)
But then again, anyone who'd pay those prices probably deserve it. Better to spend $10 on a quart of rotgut vodka and making do with that!!!!
Amy (Somerville)
"After The Times published this article on Saturday morning, Mr. Colvin said he was exploring ways to donate all the supplies." Glad to see this update after reading the piece this morning.
Haines (USA)
You don't need hand sanitizer. Just wash your hands. Wear gloves if you are at risk.
Nate (West Coast)
While people in California invent and develop things, people in Tennessee make money this way. Huh...
Summer Smith (Dallas, TX)
I hope when some enterprising thief steals them all from him, his homeowners insurance refuses to cover it. Hope he maxed out his credit cards buying it. I hope he has to pay taxes on his inventory.
Diane 4 (Oxford ga)
They should all be ashamed of themselves . Are your parents proud of you taking advantage of people during this pandemic virus?? Are you teaching your children how to make money by taking advantage of others?? I would be given these products out to anyone who needed them. This country should be helping each other, not price gouging and taking advantage of people.
fed up (sf)
War profiteers were shot. This is far worse behavior. If I were this guy, I'd move and keep a very low profile.
CH (California)
Unless he has recanted his stance, his behavior is grotesque—does he have a conscience? Apparently not. Worst of all? His white, ableist, heteronormative, cisgendered identity indicates to him that somehow, he is the victim in this scenario. While I try to shy away from public shaming, it must be said: this is abhorrent.
Ramesh (Toronto)
mr. colvin is a veteran. he served his country, and what he is doing is capitalism - buying low and selling high. how dare amazon shut him?
Jane (Colorado)
They should donate them to hospitals. Especially in Washington. Now. Problem solved.
MikeLT (Wilton Manors, FL)
First he says "“it was crazy money.” Then, he claims he doesn't make much money due to shipping costs.... Well, which is it!?!
MSF (ny)
These guys should be forced to return the masks sanitizer etc to the communities they robbed. For free. They made enough. Disgusting behavior when we need some solidarity.
Amanda (Florida)
He stated he didn’t want to be the guy on the front pages hoarding 20,000 bottles of hand sanitizer charging for 20 times the cost. Mr. Colvin, it sounds like you are that guy! Hopefully, this a lesson many can learn from.
oyvey (burlington, vt)
I believe these people are called Profiteers and there are laws against them. Americans are dying and they are profiteering from it.
Dreamer (NYC)
This is reminiscent of wartime economy with government regulation of high demand items and the evolution of a black market infrastructure. Instead of cigarettes and nylons it,s hand sanitizer and toilet paper
Ruiner (Illinois)
Profiting substantially off people getting sick is messed up. They should be helping other people not gouging them. Walmart didn't jack up prices because of demand. These people will be the first to loot your house if you're too sick to fight them off. Seriously what good is money if everyone were to get sick and die? At least you have money and wipes to burn to keep you warm at night.
christal (tennessee)
my daughter is an RN and there’s not 1 mask to be found at her hospital to protect the staff from illness while they unselfishly care for the sick. The one mask that might be found somewhere is coveted and re-used... Shame on you!! You should donate all of this stuff to the medical institutions who are caring for the sick and desperately need them!
Neil V (Lindale,Tx)
People like these should be ashamed-they are fostering panic& fear.
eqnp (san diego)
Now he is the poster boy. Tennesee, Trump country, Profiteering, it's the American way.
Lise (NYC)
Baron de Rothschild, famously quipped (early 19th century): The time to buy is when there's blood in the streets. Voilà. Plus ça change. Reprehensible whatever the century.
Mary (New York City)
He should need a retail license.
agnes (couch)
You can atone for your sin by donating it.
Mark (Boston)
Arrest him and distribute his stock to hospitals. And be sure to thank him for his disservice.
Garrett Light (Bangor Maine)
If this happened in Russia Putin would know what to do.
alangorkin (ct)
the old story you are trapped on a deserted island with no food or water. One of you has two broken legs. the other discovers an oasis of fresh water. he decides to sell it to you , rather than share. and he sells it at a tremendous cost to you. These people are disgusting immoral people. granted, big companies do it, does not make it ok. There are some things we as inhabitants here are helpless to stop. When given the opportunity to be good, moral humans, why not choose that?
GGirl (Miami, Florida)
Florida has price gouging laws. he'd be in trouble here.
Leona (Texas)
yet...in the article he sounds so proud of what he was trying to do and sounds so "put out" because now he is STUCK with it! I think that now Trump declared a National Emergency, his local PD should issue a warrant, go confiscate all of it and distribute it to places it needs to be.....hospitals, nursing homes, schools, DR offices, for patrol cars, ambulances...etc. All y'all saying you don't see the problem with what he did? You must have hoarded supplies, also, right? To the guy who said "if people are willing to pay the price, what's wrong with what he did?? Well...Some People have no choice than to pay the outrageous prices...because THEY ACTUALLY NEED IT TO SURVIVE! What is wrong with some of you?? Buy what you need....but leave some so others can also buy what they need! I simply cannot understand the mindset of people who think taking advantage of others is ok as long as others are willing to pay the price!
Father of One (Oakland)
when Mr. Colvin's child finds out what he did, he/she will be absolutely ashamed to call him father.
Browneyes (MO)
You can make your own natural hand sanitizer. The clerk at the Vitamin Shoppe gave me the recipe below Natural Hand sanitizer 3 oz Witch Hazel 2 oz Aloe Vera or Aloe Vera Juice 10 - 15 drops orange essential oil 10 drops lemon essential oil Add contents to a spray bottle and shake.
John Sharp (California)
I have no sympathy for these two creeps. Both men are mini Trumps, exploiting and profiting on the misery of others during a pandemic.
Mary Elizabeth Lease (Eastern Oregon)
this orgy of shaming is fueled by the absence of a thread to throws stones at the source or of outrage. "...on Friday, President Trump inflated the concept far beyond reality. At a news conference in the Rose Garden, he said that the company was helping to develop a website that would sharply expand testing for the virus, falsely claiming that “Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now” and adding that “they’ve made tremendous progress.” "In truth, the project at Verily — which has a total of about 1,000 employees — is in its infancy. A pilot program is planned for the San Francisco area, but a website has yet to be unveiled. Testing locations have not been identified, and the coronavirus tests themselves are not yet widely available. "The president’s effort to sell the website as a significant response to an urgent public health crisis came amid a national outcry over the administration’s repeated failures to deliver on promises to quickly expand access to testing for the virus." "Trump Oversold a Google Site to Fight Coronavirus" 'After Jared Kushner liked the idea, President Trump inflated the concept. The disconnect is the latest example of the president exaggerating or making wholly inaccurate statements about his administration’s response.' https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/14/us/politics/trump-google-coronavirus.html?
Steve (Oak Park IL)
Justice done. Let them eat hand sanitizer for lunch.
Kiki (San Francisco)
I’m waiting to hear from the IRS on how it’s going to collect the taxes these young men and others like them will owe profiting off such a horrible pandemic.
T.Shell (Brooklyn)
Nope. An after-the-fact shoulder shrug donation post slime-scheme-not-working while he gnashes his teeth doesn’t count. Lives are being lost because of this man’s greed. Can we put this stain in jail please? Notes that make me fall out if my seat: Mr. Colvin said he was simply fixing “inefficiencies in the marketplace.” Some areas of the country need these products more than others, and he’s helping send the supply toward the demand. “There’s a crushing overwhelming demand in certain cities right now,” he said. “The Dollar General in the middle of nowhere outside of Lexington, Ky., doesn’t have that.” He thought about it more. “I honestly feel like it’s a public service,” he added. “I’m being paid for my public service.”
Rob (Va)
I like how everyone supporting this guy’s argument is “well, Mylan did it, the pharma bro did it.” And Mylan’s share price is down about 80%. As it should be. And the Pharma Bro is now in jail isn’t he? As he should be.
EllyNC (NC)
This train of thought is so promoted in this country now. There are actually people making sacrifices now and volunteering during this emergency. And when your kids grow up you can tell them how you instead of giving back gouged your fellow man.
Nancy (Virginia)
People are dying. But hoarding, greed, and making “crazy money” are OK?
Good Old Georgia boy (Georgia)
Not a smart move. I live in GA and I know a little something about the good old South. If you rob your community, your best bet is to run and hide and hope nobody will find you. The last thing you want is to give your name and location to NYTimes and take your picture next to boxes of hand sanitizer. May God forgive them for what they did.
Xoxarle (Tampa)
I think we just found the next CEO of Pfizer.
. (Marietta, Ga)
I work in a grocery store, the past 3 days have been horrible as customers fill their baskets with more than enough toilet paper, hand sanitizers, rubbing alcohol and cleaning supplies. I can’t help but think that there were more than a few people like the man in this article buying up product with the intention of reselling. I will never forget the look on many customer’s faces who were shocked that they were unable to get even one package of toilet paper or a hand sanitizer. Charging $8 is shame-full, $70 is plain evil. I’m glad Amazon pulled his items, hope he can get some use out of his stockpile....in jail!
John (WPG)
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Yes this guy deprived others but the store shelves will be restocked, and people will be able to get it. In the meantime, alcohol evaporates, and the longer he holds his supply, it (and any profits) will evaporate too.
Bill Weber (Basking Ridge, NJ)
This panic is now incredibly ridiculous! The fear is way overblown! Relax!!! Supermarket shelves are now baron, like old pictures of the grocery stores in the old Warsaw Pact nations during the Cold War! At a local Shoprite this weekend, a woman took seven (7) chickens from the meat department, then to have the store manager announce on the PA the imposition of a two chicken limit. Lighten up everybody! There is no need to horde! Rather than States going after enterprising arbitrage operators like those mentioned in this article (aka - price gougers), during a “declared emergency,” it may be better if there were limits imposed on what could be purchased at one time, like the Shoprite manager’s order, only two chickens per customer!
Frances (San Rafael, CA)
I would like the NYT to write a followup on this story and let us know what consequences these people faced as a result of their unethical behavior. I think all of us would like to know.
Erich Breckoff (Finland)
If people fail to see how it is different if i sell a pair of rare sneakers at high price or medical supplies that could safe lives, then i think humanity should go extinct and stop polluting this planet.
DLN (Chapel Hill, NC)
It is illegal for people to gouge prices in a natural disasters in North Carolina. I agree with this and people are reported if they violate it. Some people can't pay high prices, such as gas, in an emergency. Why are people supporting this man when 1/2 of America live from paycheck to paycheck? When you become arrogant, you become a victim like that basketball player.
Abzon (California)
So you are a servent? He thought about it more. “I honestly feel like it’s a public service,” he added. “I’m being paid for my public service.” I am from California every state is different and THEY got it right. Check yours to see their laws on gouging. Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a price-gouging alert, reminding Californians of laws protecting the practice especially when it comes to supplies, food, and gas. California Penal Code (CPC) 396 makes it illegal for a person, contractor, business, or other entity to increase the price of a product or service item more than ten (10) percent for the following thirty (30) days after an Executive Order or Stateof Emergency has been declared Authorized officials can extend the anti-gouging rules up to 180 days after an emergency declaration if they deem it necessary THAT MEANS THE WATER YOU BOUGHT FOR $4 YOU CAN SELL IT FOR $4 AND 40 CENT MAXIMUM. A true servant would be happy with that Violators can face one year in jail or a fine of up to $10,000. ( AB 396) To file a complaint, go to the attorney general's website or call (800) 952 5225.
Gypsy Mandelbaum (Seattle)
Public service? These guys could rationalize anything. So could Grant of Costa Mesa who must be an MBA.
john640 (armonk, ny)
The Justice Department should consider prosecution. He has monopolized the market for a vital product within a defined geographical area within the US. Looks like he has violated Section 2 of the Sherman and should face criminal prosecution and treble damages for his offense.
Chris Reed (Whidbey Island, WA)
Ruh-roh.. they gave out this dude's FULL name? Oh man, that's priceless. He *had* 17k bottles of sanitizer lol. Also, it would probably be in his best interest to start giving these supplies out to his neighborhood hospitals, police, and the elderly. Otherwise he's likely gonna have to move if his town is hit really hard. One solution to this atrocity of economics gone awry: Fed buys the supplies for 80% of what he paid, doles it out to hospitals Nationwide. That other 20%? His fine for profiteering on death. Our president has a monopoly on that, didn't be know?
BrewDoc (Rural Wisconsin)
He has no remorse. He thinks his profiteering is excusable. Lock him up.
JM (East Coast)
I suggest he be a good Samaritan and donate some of them to local schools if they're still open. Teachers would be really grateful! On any given day, I use hand sanitizer up the wazoo in my classroom and unfortunately ran out during the pandemic. In addition, all the stores and Amazon are completely sold out.
LongTimeFirstTime (New York City)
The last sentence is worth the read.
jo (usa)
They should seize his entire supply and donate it to nursing homes and hospitals, since he considers himself such a humanitarian and is so hung up on what a public servant his he should be all for that.
Lee (Virginia)
to each according to their ability to each according to their need
Walt Lersch (Portland, OR)
No sympathy here. I'm reminded of the old investing adage: 'Bulls make money. Bears make money, pigs get slaughtered.'
Gregoire7 (Paris Of The mind)
This isn’t a debatable, “fair and balanced” situation: parasite is one of several appropriate words. That the Times thinks the story here is about poor schmoes trying to make a fair buck is a sign of how distorted your priorities are. Or that you are only interested in the dollars of readers with high incomes who would justify this behavior to excuse theirs.
DJS (New York)
"Current price-gouging laws “are not built for today’s day and age,” Mr. Colvin said. “They’re built for Billy Bob’s gas station doubling the amount he charges for gas during a hurricane.” Had Mr. Colvin had bothered to check the state website , he'd have learned that Tennessee has a price-gouging law that bars people from charging 'unreasonable prices for essential goods and services, including gasoline, in direct response to a disaster,' and would not have had investigators from the Tennessee attorney general's office show up at his house, would not have been given a cease-and-desist letter, and would not be under investigation . . I hope that Mr. Colvin and the other price gougers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They knew that their actions would endanger lives , and did not care. I'd like to thank the New York Times for publishing this article, as that is what brought Mr. Colvin's price gouging to the attention of the New York State attorney general's attention. That won't help me and the innumerable Americans who can't get hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes or cleaning wipes to help protect ourselves from contracting coronavirus, and from spreading coronavirus to others. I hope that Mr. Colvin , and his fellow price gougers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Bin Chen (Chicago)
When hundreds of thousands of people are being infected with COVID-19, Noah Colvin said this situation would put his "family in a really good place financially." Is that all that matters right now?
Ex-Republican (Ct.)
If it weren't for the knuckleheads, we wouldn't need a government. Good primer on capitalism gone wrong.
LGT525 (Ann Arbor Michigan)
This guy should be prosecuted for price gouging in an emergency. What he is doing is no different that those that jack gas prices up during a hurricane, or water prices during a water shortage. His stash should be confiscated. Maybe then he will learn not to harm his fellow citizens.
Dave (Texas)
Honestly I hope he and others that tried to make monetary gain from others fear and concerns over what may in time become a worldwide disaster have to eat each and every Last bottle, tube, or tub of sanitizer, bleach, water, and otherwise essential needed items. It has gotten so bad in my area that stores have had to shut down just to be able to try to resupply but as soon as they reopen it’s a virtual tidal wave of hoarders trying to get every last package of meat, bread, beans, flour, and water in the store. The elderly cannot venture out to get the supplies they need, even if they could the supplies would not be available thanks to trash like this man and others like him!!!!!
Jenn (California)
Why these guys got an entire article is beyond me. There will always be profiteers, and these guys are particularly despicable. If they want to make right, donate supplies to hospitals, senior homes and neighbors who need them. NYTimes, find some stories of people doing RIGHT society.
Ellen (Indianapolis)
It didn't occur to him that the name "Pandemic pack" was a clue?
SouthernParent (New Orleans, LA)
Well, this sure is bad. He left his surrounding communities without vital essential supplies to combat getting covid-19 and he's now "stuck" with over 17, 000 bottles of hand sanitizers, lots of disinfecting wipes, boxes of gloves, and masks. I don't feel sorry for him because he has already made his profit. What would be nice is if he returned to his community the stuff he bought off the shelves. I'm sure he has his receipts. And if he doesn't, it won't matter because manufacturers are already re-supplying stores and stores are now rationing how much essential supplies you can buy (so there is enough for all). Good thing soap and water can be had by most folks.
Good Citizen (Alabama)
To all you people claiming you don't see anything wrong with what this guy did, let me explain it to you in simple terms: 13 states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, TENNESSEE, Virginia, and West Virginia — have enacted statutes to deal with "price gouging" in the event a state of emergency is declared. Price gouging is defined as charging "unconscionably" high prices during a state of emergency by renting, selling or offering to rent or sell a commodity at a price considered "unconscionable high". Unconscionably high is defined as a 10 to 25 percent increase over average prices listed for a good or service for the month before the declared state of emergency. So... Long story short, some hillbilly thought he was smart and tried to use online retailers to PROFIT BY BREAKING THE LAW. Way I see it Amazon, eBay, etc did us all a favor. Since he can't sell his product by price gouging people (ie. $70 a bottle) the police can't arrest him, the courts don't have to put him on trial, and TAXPAYERS don't have to pay for his 3 hots and a cot in prison. He'd have been fine had he tacked $0.50 on to each bottle and sold them, but HE got greedy, HE messed up by violating Amazon's terms of use (like don't break the law using our website) which, as a business acting in their own best interests, they have and should have EVERY RIGHT TO DO, and HE gets to deal with the consequences.
Gypsy Mandelbaum (Seattle)
Public service? These guys could rationalize anything.
Arnold Rothenbuescher (Leesburg, VA)
I can only wish that when his time to depart this earth finally arrives, he will still have this supply on hand to remind himself of how greedy and self-serving he had been. Actually, on the other hand, maybe the shelf live of each product will expire before he can get rid of any of them anyway......
Emily (Sycamore, IL)
This is obscene. Painting these people in some sympathetic light? I'm sorry, but acting like poor, sad veterans who just couldn't do anything else to save themselves? How did they buy it? You can't expect me to read any part of this without absolutely being disgusted. Now people believe that they can get away with anything. Only they can't.
Susan (San Diego, Ca)
"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...
JT (Michigan)
Good. I hope they all get stuck with their supply and go bankrupt. Glad they are not my neighbors.
tom (usa)
Would your children or parents be proud of your actions? Mine certainly wouldn’t be.
Kelly (USA)
Cracks me up. He justifies his actions because of the shortage but his actions are what caused the shortage in the first place. I am all for making a profit when you can but within reason & not at the expense of ppls lives, health & safety. That's just shameful. Yet he still doesn't get it. He shouldn't be allowed to do it. Neither should businesses. Not only goes against the gouging laws but could also violate the usury laws as well. But morally, it's wrong & only making this crisis worse
Old Expat (Leipzig, Germany)
Does Mr Colvin expect us to feel sorry for him? Poor little man, decided he could get rich because of a Virus! He deserves to go broke, taking advantage of other people! This is what is so wrong about unbridled Capitalism. Those who would profit, from other peoples misery. It is a very sad commentary, on what America has become.
Noa Baak (New York City)
These people should go to prison as they take chances of others being saved from virus. This little bottle could make life or death, so you cannot compare with any other consumer products. And you the sellers, remember, those blood will come back to you.
Heather (North Carolina)
This article is written to make him look like this super great guy. Serves him right... he got what he deserves...
Lucia (Macon , GA)
I wonder why EBay is still allowing folks to sell toilet tissue for 5-8 times the regular price ??!! This makes me sick that folks are taking advantage of such a scary and dangerous situation .
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
I'm sure he could sell all his product for slightly more than he paid for it, and it would not be considered gouging. He was hoping to make his family rich beyond his wildest dreams though. If you look back into the family trees of most filthy rich people, there's one of these types who got the family rich to start with. Nice to see that Amazon and eBay are not aiding and abetting these amoral types. Guess he'll have to work some Kentucky street corner.
JN (Cali)
This should be seizure and distributed, with no compensation.
farhorizons (philadelphia)
These brothers are would-be profiteers who should be ashamed of their instinctive plundering of essential itens needed during the pandemic.
James (Pasadena)
You all demonize these big companies, then say it's okay to be like them. A decent human being would realize now that the logical choice is to share these supplies with medical workers or the community.
Guido Malsh (Cincinnati)
Caveat emptor. Somehow the losers always win. Until they don't. Crime never pays. Until it's simply supply and demand. Behavioral economics. Anyone who's surprised by this article was born yesterday. Yet maybe not tomorrow.
Maura (Tucker, Ga)
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I don’t know how people like this can even look themselves in the mirror.
Jo Ann Mulcaster (Florida)
Shame on him! This is a crime, and he should be charged.
Please, please, please redeem yourself and donate every last bottle to hospitals, nursing homes, and shelters... Please, and then take a long hard look at yourself.
Always Learning (USA)
The "Machine" has been in control of Chgo for so long that a MORAL position from someone calling himself "Chicago guy" would have been a surprise. As a former resident, I have regrettable memories of the ultra-liberal environment with the accompanying city, county and state taxes nurturing a "get all you can, can all you get and exploit what's left" as much as possible. So, such a morally jaded, self-centered opinion is completely understandable... and wrong.
Lawyermom (Washington DCt)
For heavens sake, everyone, SOAP works better than hand sanitizer. I understand that you want it when out in places without access to bathrooms, but at home, work, school, restaurants, etc, use the restroom. You can buy a plastic soapbox or even a plastic bag to carry your own soap bar if necessary. Now don’t run out and snap up all the soapboxes, please!
Mr. Colvin, Humanity 101 is not overrated. It may help you sleep at night.
Doug Tarnopol (Cranston, RI)
The penultimate paragraph could have been penned by Swift himself. It was the last paragraph till the last line was added, which is the icing on the cake--and I take it the point of the article. That's some nice "nudging," NYT. Using fame-mongering to force decent behavior. They just can't not talk to a reporter. Nicely done. And, people, don't hurt this guy. He is chastened and is doing the right thing, and this will be a lesson to him and others.
Sarah (Orange County)
Amazing the response to this article! Upwards of 3,600 comments, the most I've seen on a NYT article! The photo of him standing in front of his garage should definitely be part of 2020 Year in Photos.
Heidi Jarratt (Rome, Italy)
Since most of these price gougers seem to be known, the authorities should step in, confiscate all their products and set up distribution points where everything will be given out free. Problem solved on all levels.
Jagmont Rousel (Fresburg, Ca.)
This is immoral and reprehensible. Buying up massive quantities of medical supplies that people need to protect their own health and then attempting to resell these items at exhorbitant prices simply deprives our people of supplies that they need to protect themselves from this dangerous virus. Free enterprise capitalism does NOT negate or obsolete morality. I would feel differently if the people who bought up all these needed items did it so they could distribute these items for free for those in need who could not afford them or did not have access to them. This is the type of moral behavior Americans expect to see and often do see in times of national emergency.
Observor (Backwoods California)
Stopping the guy from price-gouging in one thing, but Amazon should let him sell the stuff at a fair profit. People need and want what he's got. This is American, darn it, and a reasonable profit is mother's milk to every business person.
ZAW (Pete Olson's District(Sigh))
The Colvins absolutely could sell the hand sanitizer and masks they have. They won’t because they are prohibited from getting the exorbitant prices they wanted for them. They thought this would be a get rich quick scheme, and they won’t let it go. . Maybe they need a kick in the shorts? US law will allow the Government to force you or me to sell real estate for the common good under Eminent Domain law. In fact, President Trump, beloved as he is by free market capitalists who claim private property is sacrosanct - is happily using Eminent Domain to help build his border wall. Why shouldn’t the government force someone, like the Colvin Brothers, who are sitting on a large quantity of necessities, to sell them at a reasonable price for the common good? That is, if they don’t come to their senses ahead of it.
Tom R (Texas)
What he is doing is both unethical and illegal. There's nothing wrong with a bit of a markup, that's capitalism. But profiteering is both illegal and immoral. I applaud Amazon and Ebay for putting the likes of him in their place.
La Guillotine (Third stone from the Sun)
PRICE GOUGING, is a not so distant cousin to Looting . That's correct; I said LOOTING .
AJD (Los Angeles)
The government should exercise its powers of Eminent Domain -- i.e., the power to force a compulsory purchase of private property for the public good -- and get this stuff OUT of a locked warehouse and into the hands of health workers, people at risk, and others who are discovering it's impossible to purchase any of it right now. Whether you believe (as I do) that this guy is an outrageously immoral profiteer and deserves all the hate mail he will undoubtedly get, or believe it's "just" capitalism, it's insane to have this critically important stuff sitting in a guy's locked private warehouse when hundreds of millions of lives are at stake.
Dan Shedd (Houston, Tx)
Mr. Colvin needs to dote right thing and donate the 17k bottles to his local hospitals. No wonder people can’t find the stuff they need! This is a new low in 2020 and it’s absolutely despicable in my opinion. You are preventing the people who really need it to have what they need!
Someone (Somewhere)
For he hath sown the wind, and shall reap the whirlwind.
fred mccolly (lake station, indiana)
you could, i suppose, ask pharmaceutical companies about the cost of an epi pen or insulin rather than cover this guys hand sanitizer...then again this guy doesn't have pr people, lawyers on retainer, or the support of legislators and wealthy shareholders...in that case gouging goes by another name.
Bobbi Mimmack (Chapel Hill, NC)
“I honestly feel like it’s a public service,” he added. “I’m being paid for my public service.” Twisting the meanings of words, Mr. Colvin has a bright future as a politician.
Alice (Chicago)
Donate these to the hospitals and health centers that need them!!
CitizenX (Detroit Metro)
Since he can no longer conduct his self-congratulatory rallies, Trump will be no doubt be inviting this guy to the WH to receive the next Medal of Freedom. The "pardoned" Navy Seal can introduce him.
Carol (Toronto)
I thought this was what you called pursuing the American dream. No?
Maria T (Nebraska)
During the difficult times, we found the monsters and the angels! Who are these people?
Ron Bloodworth (Portland, OR)
Hoarding and price gouging of essential resources in a national emergency is one of the most despicable, craven, and shameful behaviors I can think of. It ought to be a crime punishable by imprisonment for any individual, business, or corporation that engages in such practices. Have some Americans no shame and no sense of responsibility for their fellow citizens? Apparently so. I’m appalled by that kind of behavior.
Edna (Sarasota, FL)
Thank you, NYT, for telling the rest of the country why people in need of these supplies can't get them. Amazon and eBay should have caught it more quickly. Guess it's too much to think people might actually want to be fair during a global pandemic. Mr. Colvin's hubris - that's he was helping others - is disgusting. A lot different than a gasoline mark-up. This is about containing a virus.
Jennifer Kim (Tennessee)
Didn’t he keep his receipts? Man up, face the people who have called you out, and return what you don’t need.
Here's a perfect consequence for the brothers: Put them in a room with an active Covid 19 patient, and tell them they can buy two masks and two bottles of hand sanitizer for the exact amount of their net profit. Tell them you're doing a public service by getting the supplies to the people who really need them.
Wheel (Denver, Colorado)
Can you imagine if Americans took the attitude of this "family man" during WW2? Winning the war would have been a lot more difficult. Noah Colvin should be ashamed.
John Grillo (Edgewater, MD)
Watch out Wilber Ross, your Trump Cabinet post as Commerce Secretary is in jeopardy.
Lynn (California)
Zero sympathy for these guys. Absolutely zero.
D-Ro (Orlando, FL)
Here greed is the virus. And when greedy people outnumber those of us trying to take care of one another- we have a pandemic of greed, fear, and panic. You are right that it is this man's right to take advantage of a crisis, but that does not make his actions are the right thing to do. We can hope his greed can be converted to compassion. Given the large profits he has already made, I would hope this publicity will make him think about selling back at cost or donating to the multiple institutions who are running short on supply of hand sanitizers. I will hold the hope that people who practice compassion and think of the greater good of humanity will outnumber the greedy people.
Tony (Saskatoon, Canada)
Mr. Colvin is further proof that it is much easier to get rich if you aren’t tethered to a conscience.
William (Memphis)
Wake up. Americans are gouged every single day by corporations, year after year.
Sane Human (DC Suburb 20191)
It’s reassuring to find out that online sellers like Amazon have an active ethics dept to stop evil people like the Colvin brothers.
Matt (Montrose, CO)
Reprehensible. It’s the only word for it. Plainly sociopathic behavior, greed, avarice, and plain old meanness of spirit all on display. Think about it for a second: they took the time to rent a U-Haul, cruise their town and the surrounding communities to buy out the inventory of items that they knew people would need in the coming days, simply to make money.
David (Cranston, RI)
This guy is no better than the guy who bought the rights to a life-saving device and raised the price so high that people started dying. To those here who defend his right to do this in a capitalist society - you are the problem that makes capitalism need fixing. Just like the pharmaceutical guy was found guilty, this guy is as well. The pharmaceutical companies that are profiteering like mad off of misery are also to blame. Maybe they’re too powerful right now to wrestle to the ground and this guy isn’t. But he’s just as guilty as profiteering off of human misery, grabbing up what someone with little means might use to prevent illness, and raising the price so high that person goes without. Guilty. I hope he suffers considerably financially enough to never do this again.
Nina (Palo Alto)
He should go to jail. Glad AG has sent a cease and desist letter. Why did Amazon use ML to figure this out earlier?
Jessica (Chicago)
You guys know that hand sanitizer doesn’t really help you if you even get the Virus everyone should be washing there hands for 20 seconds or longer like everyone should’ve been before this started.
Sue (Pittsburgh)
The state can legally move in and take these supplies. I'm surprised they have not done so.
Bill Hegman (Vermont)
Shame on them. Think of another way to make money. Really. How do they sleep at night? Is it different than big companies profiting? No. But it's still just as wrong. Get a moral backbone. This situation could and should bring out the best in us. Not the greed and selfishness. We have enough of that.
Terrie (Maryland)
Even if it WAS legal, it was humanly reprehensible. We are talking life and death here, not the latest fad that really won't matter if you have it or not. He has to look at his selfish personna in the mirror every morning and perhaps that is enough punishment BUT I would confiscate everything and distribute it to all the hospitals dealing with this pandemic. Then I would fine him for the total cost that HE wanted to charge; after all he thought it was worth that much. I wouldn't send him to jail; that would make him too safe. As it is his face is out there; everyone knows what he looks like and my guess is he will be looking over his shoulder the rest of his life just out of paranoia. He knows what he did was unforgiveable.
Megan (East Kentucky)
Here’s a brilliant idea donate it to hospitals. You get the lovely write off and hospital and doctors who are strictly rationing supplies get to save lives
Joyce Fitzgerald (Minneapolis via ILINKY)
Did he really think people in rural and small town communities don't need supplies?
pmshah (India)
Typical Amerian Avarice. In this regard we are lucky in India. Printing MRP (Maximum Retail Price) in indelible form is mandatory for absolutely any and every packaged product before it leaves the manufacturer's manufacturing / packaging facility, although there is no restriction on what that may be. Absolutely any one trying to gouge customers by charging even a single cent above that is a jailable offence.
rhettarded (Houston, TX)
All the people commenting are thinking only of profiteering, but little attention was given towards his morality. No moral person would think of doing "trendy" business in a time of crisis. People giving suggestions while they are thousands of miles away from this miscreant; imagine yourself living in a neighbor of this guy, you and the family had the time to go to the grocery store, only to find out that this guy scoured and bought all necessities in the name of public service, but motivated by profit. Now imagine the tens of thousands of families affected by him, where children and elderly could find sanitizing products. His actions and motives, are unethical.
DameAlys (Portland, OR)
"He quickly sold all 2,000 of the 50-packs of masks on eBay, pricing them from $40 to $50 each, and sometimes higher. He declined to disclose his profit on the record but said it was substantial...." If there are not yet enforceable laws to prosecute pariahs like this guy, then I'm going to be on the horn every single day to my U.S. congressman and my two U.S. senators to make sure that price-gouging becomes a felony. Reading this column made me feel like vomiting.
P. Quayle (Warren,MI)
Big Pharma meets Little Pharma in the world of Health for Profit.
James (Tennessee)
I hope the Tennessee attorney general fines him double what his estimates sales were. This is what created this mess. Looks like karma caught him and now he will suffer.
Tish (Manhattan)
The IRS has them at the top of their audit list. He should drive back through those same communities and donate the supplies. These selfish people have insanely increased profits while depriving already at risk people of protecting themselves.
Jason (San Francisco, CA)
He's the reverse Robinhood, redistributing essential supplies from the poor to those with means.
Andrew (Elm City, NC)
The profit motive is the driving force that brings water to hurricane victims, multiple grocery stores to a neighborhood, and a gas station on every corner, all without government mandate or tax revenue. The word "gouging" is a judgement of one person on the actions of two other free people, a textbook example of "none of your business."
dennis (california)
There is a huge difference between price speculation on collectibles or other non essentials and intentionally victimizing people in the midst of a crisis. If these guys lack the intelligence to see that or the integrity to care, to bad that they are paying the price. And for those of you who support their "right" to do this, or somehow see it as valid capitalism, too bad you are not poor and living in the 1890's before there were any sort of consumer or workplace protections! Those who are blind to the intrinsic ethics and responsibilities of living in a community, especially in times of need have no place living among civilized people!
Jerrell (Maryland)
This is wrong whether done by a nonprofit, corporation, business, or individual - it’s wrong! Another form of a crime against humanity. Yet again, poverty stricken & disenfranchised individuals and communities suffer. Let catastrophe cripple us to our core until we truly learn to live equitably, learn to be compassionate, and love others.
Pietro Paparella (Bothell, WA)
This is why laissez-faire economics is utterly bankrupt – the vast majority of the general public finds this behavior repulsive.
Empress Jackson (Panama)
He could redeem himself by donating these to people in need.
C. Garcia (Antioch, Ca)
The IRS will be expecting to see all these price gougers declaring their ill gotten income and paying taxes on them. Hope they lose money or eat the unsold inventory.
redtapegrrl (a purple state in play)
So this guy is wondering what he's going to do with 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer & the containers of disinfecting wipes? Amazon & eBay have cut him off (good on them). He could donate a couple pallets to his local health department and those in neighboring counties. And keep doing it till they're gone.
WW West (Texas)
And now just checking, Amazon is filled with (obviously) items from out of the USA (alphabet soup names), still very inflated prices - so, there seem to not be rules imposed across the board to ALL of these crooks trying to profit off of a disaster. Shame on all of anyone who does this. All of these online sellers need to some impose some ethics and rules.
Carole Roseman (East Chatham)
The epitome of what this country has become. Greed is good. Period. He should be shunned. Maybe this article will do that.
Chris (Massachusetts)
I’m a physician whose hospital is running out of these items. Thanks so much for your “public service.” Guess I know who to thank when I have to go without hand sanitizer or a mask.
GK (Oakland, CA)
What should he do?! How is this even a dilemma... donate or return all of the products so folks who need it have access!!
Understander (America)
This points out a classic flaw in capitalism and free markets. Situations like this, wherein a person takes advantage of a catastrophe or national emergency for out-sized profits, call out for regulation as a check on the excesses of capitalism. Anti-gouging laws are the common sense response of the electorate to people who lack a sense of basic decency and fair play. Without these kinds of checks, people would long ago have become disgusted with and abandoned free markets. While the Colvins (and others of their ilk) have done, and will continue to do, quite well in this system, the profit shaming the NYTimes is doing here is an excellent PSA to all wannabe price gougers out there: "Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered." Hopefully the Colvins and other such disaster profiteers will heed the message.
Moxie (Lexington, Kentucky)
As someone from "middle of nowhere" Lexington, Kentucky, where they stripped stores, I am appalled at their behavior and recklessness, and that they now consider themselves the victim sfor these reckless actions. I'm glad Amazon and EBay removed their platform for price gouging. It might be legal, but it isn't the right thing to do. And who are they to decide which communities they strip of basic necessities during a health crisis just so they can make "crazy money"?
Isa (California)
I'm shocked this guy agreed to be interviewed. He may think it's OK but he should be aware of backlash. A LOT of people don't think it is.
Kenny G (Brooklyn)
This is the model that Amazon promotes: The site encourages individual sellers like this to always look for deals and resell almost any product. These guys have probably been doing this for a while. They are also not alone. They just happen to be exposed now as immoral at this moment because of their utter lack of judgment and greed. But it’s Amazon’s reseller model.
Dee (Anchorage, AK)
Nothing is stopping him from selling them on the corner -- except hard work.
Dimitri Stamatis (San Francisco, CA)
he shortages aren't caused by this guy; they're caused by everyone else who's buying WAY more than they should and HOARDING it all for themselves.
cr (San Diego, CA)
This is America. We only allow professional price-gouging by our corporations. Pharmaceutical companies, hospital groups, doctor associations, insurance conglomerates. If you want to price-gouge go to an Ivy-league school, get hired by a multinational, have daddy get you an executive position, get interviews on Fox Business and CNBC, and begin purchasing politicians. Sure it may take several years, but it’s the American way. Amateurs need not apply.
Norman (Dubai)
It's a matter of mitigating a health risk that is potentially life-threatening and you have the the temerity to hoard hand sanitizers and nowhere to sell them at a profit? Really? Have a heart man.
Jo (UK)
As online platforms know who these people are (and where they live) stockpiled supplies should be confiscated to help ease the burden on our resources.
Moriah (Montana)
This is unconscionable. His supply should be confiscated and sent to Seattle, where front-line healthcare workers are REUSING masks when caring for confirmed coronavirus patients due to lack of supply. Health authorities have repeatedly said that surgical masks and N95 masks WILL NOT protect the general public in like at the grocery store. They ARE needed to protect clinicians caring for and transporting actual patients. Every American who bought and hoarded masks should drop them off at their local clinic or hospital. YOU DON’T NEED THEM. They do. This guy, though, is a criminal.
qisl (Plano, TX)
You can find archives of Matt's website on the web.archive.org. Reading some of his blog archives he comes across as an educated seller, dedicated to his chosen profession, ecommerce, going so far as to visiting DC to help improve conditions for online sellers. Unfortunately, this attempt to provide financially for his family might interfere with AFTA's mission "to facilitate and promote a fair, balanced and competitive domestic marketplace." (AFTA: American Free Trade Association.)
Pam L (Bradenton Florida)
It's interesting to me that we are not seeing this panic buying behavior with soap. Bar soap, liquid soap, and dish soap are the things I use to clean most everything - myself and my home. Scientists have made it clear that soap works better than hand sanitizer, wipes, or alcohol to detach the virus from your skin. Bleach is the primo disinfectant and it takes a very small quantity mixed with a good bit of water to do the job. If you can't find it right now in the store perhaps a neighbor can spare a cup. Or better yet - whip up a basin of hot soapy water and wipe your home down. We have become hooked on products that are expensive and unnecessary, and we think the world will end if we can't find them. Astounding!
NLG (Stamford, CT)
There are two truly disgusting things about Noah Colvin. The first is that he himself creates the scarcity that pushes the prices of the goods he resells through the roof. Necessities aren't rationed precisely because society relies on people not doing this; think of how much money one could make by stealthily buying up all the potable water in the country, then turning off the taps and selling to the highest bidder. Though the price jumps, water's no more valuable the day after you corner the market; it's just monopoly power. Economists have a phrase for this: 'consumer surplus', the difference between the value of an item and its market price. Monopolist hollow out consumer surplus for themselves. This isn't entrepreneurial; an entrepreneur finds a way of creating value, for example, splitting out from water the oxygen, not of simply reallocating existing value back to himself. This is just legal theft, and the fact that huge corporations do it doesn't make it any more palatable when Mr. Colvin does. Which brings me to the second disgusting thing: Colvin thinks it's a fine thing to do, even admirable. He's proud of it. He rationalizes, distorts and ignores. On the one hand, he thinks he's providing a public service (hah!) On the other, he crows about how much money he's getting for an item he bought the day before for next to nothing. No inconsistency there, in his book. As I say, disgusting; corrosive to our society and a threat to our country.
Terri (Maryland)
Life is tough big guy. You were going to rip off your fellow human beings during a crisis and I hope you are stuck with these for a long time. How about doing something good and at least donating it to organizations for a tax break. Or sell them back at the same price you bought them. Better turn them over because they will expire at some point.
Brittany (Alaska)
He should return them to the stores then so that others can buy them for regular price!
ToriBear (Surrey)
He should sell them back to the shops he bought them from so people can buy them as they should have been able to buy them in the first place. And when I say that he should not sell them at a crazy price to the shop either. Yes he can make a profit but he can’t sell online but it doesn’t take a genius to ask local businesses to buy back the stock he swallowed up.
Mike (Bay Area)
This is wrong. Profit making is OK when game event is in town or something like that. Profit making when by stripping people of basic necessity first then selling them at higher price is pure evil. Remember no one needed to buy this at higher price if we all as a society are considerate to fellow neighbors need in time of epidemic.
Iman Onymous (The Blue Dot)
Who wants a bunch of face masks, cleaning and sanitizing supplies that have been stored in some guy's probably insect, rat- and mouse-infested garage for god only knows how long and under what conditions ? Seems like the local health department should take a close look at this. This article has changed my perception of buying stuff online. Regardless of the price.
Ana (Alabama)
Why isn’t such behavior illegal? When buying and reselling, one shouldn’t be allowed to do it by snatching the product from the same consumer who wants to buy it in the first place. This is like kidnapping for ransom. This is illegal in Europe. We need to catch up.
TM (Vancouver,WA)
Hoarding medical supplies and gouging consumers while depriving front line workers of the supplies they need to stay safe is beyond deplorable. It is evil.
Lawyermom (Washington DCt)
There should be federal guidelines for this. A verifiable reasonable markup, with shipping charges calculated separately, and a maximum purchase quantity per order should be implemented. I don’t mind if someone makes a reasonable profit, but these people are gouging.
Craig H. (California)
Why isn't the same anti price gouging principle applied to health care?
DC (Canada)
Mr. Corvin failed to recognize the difference between reselling luxury goods like Nikes (which lets be honest, caveat emptor), and profiteering off life saving supplies in a pandemic. One is fine. the other is unethical beyond the pale. Hope he sees the difference now. While he can probably be dealt with reasonably and get the message, he probably needs to be made an example of to deter other would be profiteers.
David (Greensboro, NC)
It's absolutely wrong. He's sitting there making obscene profits, keeping other people from getting the supplies that they need just so that his family can get rich. How is that NOT wrong? There's a post on this site that talks about they live in the area where he did this and people could not find the supplies because he had stripped the stores out. So people in his area are supposed to find him on the internet, come to his house, rather than do the common sense thing and go to the local store? Please... That defies logic. And you who are claiming that it's okay because drug companies do it, gun resellers do it. That doesn't make it right. They should be stopped too. And look at this - he lives in a home, not a business district. Yet he has a warehouse in his garage. How is he not breaking laws by doing that? He claims that he's doing a service for the rest of the country?
Kris (Hawaii)
Let us seek for change or at least a thoughtful re-evaluation, in all minds, to see and to understand what is important, essential, and seek the value in all things. Let us seek better understanding of basic and advanced personal health practices as individuals. In a public restroom today, an individual confessed to me that he previously did not wash his hands after using a public bathroom until recently. Let us seek better economic understanding. Personal, national, and global. As a takeaway from this article, a pair of brothers can appear a small piece, with a much larger puzzle of understanding to complete. Let this excellent article, one of the best in relation to the primary issue, raise your overall awareness. How many things usually intertwine with each other. What we simply view or understand from this article could change much, so much. Leave it up to yourselves to decide what to do next.
BA_Blue (Oklahoma)
Nothing wrong with turning a reasonable profit, but like so many other words "reasonable" is a subjective term. Biblical advice on money lending is no more than 10% interest. In the past some states had usury laws with a 10% cap but payday lenders organized in the Reagan 80's to repeal them as anti free trade capitalism. Never mind the Rabbi who chased money changers from the temple, credit cards with rates north of 20% haven't been an issue for decades. Mr Colvin is an amoral capitalist and until he gets stuck on the other side of his business model will see no reason to change. He's young enough to learn that lesson and I hope he does. Otherwise his survivors could get gouged for his funeral at 'pandemic prices' if that's what the market will bear. He'd understand. In the meantime, to those looking for hand sanitizer, consider soap and water. If no soap, dish washing liquid. The trick is to use what you have as often as needed. To the folks I've seen on TV hoarding toilet paper, a wash cloth works well once you get the knack.
Catherine (California)
My church, New City Church of Los Angeles, where half of our congregation are homeless, is going out next Saturday to distribute supplies to people in tent cities. We’re collaborating with Union Rescue Mission to also encourage them to get off the street and come to the shelter where they can wash their hands, shower and rest and be better protected from the virus. The thing is: we don’t know where we are going to get the hand sanitizer and wipes we want to pass out with our packs, and are looking donations. He could help us a great deal.
Melissa Duffy (Oak Harbor)
So that is why there is no antiseptic wipes or hand sanitizer, masks, water or toilet paper. Today, I finally got some distilled water which I've needed for my C-pap machine but which has been sold out the past several weeks. Consider how many people who are needing this for treating chronic health conditions and who depend on this who are of limited incomes. Sounds like Mr. Colvin is a natural entrepreneur and knows how to turn a profit. Making a profit by following trends is smart.Certainly, making a reasonable profit is fine and he has a right to do that. Lesson learned for him that times of nationwide and global pandemic it's best to be more considerate of the wider community or you will be 'called out' on self-centered behavior that deprives others of life or death necessities by stockpiling and seeking huge profits. Medical workers, those who tested positive for the virus, close family members caring for them and other people who are genuinely at high risk of dying from the virus are without basic needed supplies because of this man and others of his ilk. Clearly altruism was not his motive and backpedals to try and present it as such is self-delusion. My suggestion is for him to offer to sell them at the price he paid for them to COVID-19 researchers, hospitals, medical centers and health depts. now imminently facing the community spread of the virus most intensely, and 'viral hot spots' with homeless shelters. These are urgently needed.
Irene (Brophy)
We have declared a National Emergency. Surely these critical medical supplies can be seized and given to the nearest or most needy hospital.
St. Paulite (St. Paul, MN)
There’s a little “smart young entrepreneur finding a way to make a profit” sound about this article. How would Mr. Colvin feel if an elderly relative or friend of his had to go to a hospital which was drastically understaffed because of health workers having gotten infected due to the lack of these basic essentials? Would he blame the hospital for any deficiencies in the treatment, instead of his own selfishness? There are times when the practice of selling something for “whatever the market will bear” is totally immoral, and this is one of them. People who do this deserve prison, not laudatory articles in the Times.
soapandh2o (South Africa)
The sadder side to this distressing tale is public ignorance. Normal soap (and water) is as effective in destroying the lipid outer layer of the virus. Anti bacterial wipes have no effect against viruses and face masks are only useful in preventing infected people from spraying viruses around in the air. The veneer of civilisation remains thin. This figure could very well be the snake oil salesman in the Billy Bob gas station scenario.
Susanna (United States)
What’s astonishing is that they don’t even recognize the heinous inhumanity of their actions and mindset.
Linda (New Jersey)
People are acting as though hand sanitizer has a magic power that will absolutely prevent them from contracting coronavirus. Washing hands is much better. People over 60 and/or those with chronic illnesses should stay home as much as possible and wash their hands frequently. I'm much more worried about being coughed on by someone who already has coronavirus than I am about touching a surface previously touched by someone who has it.
Anne Sherwood (Portland, OR)
This guy really thinks he was doing a service for the community? Maybe he should try volunteering in a hospital if he really wants to see what community service is all about.
Alex (Canada)
A capitalist economy is great, but there have to be ethics built to the system, it can’t all be just about maximizing your profits. More than quadrupling the price of products that will help stop/slow down the current pandemic is unethical, and against the basic morals we should follow as human beings. Centralizing the sale of hygiene products, then making $25,000-$40,000 in a month is not public service!
Another Voice (NYC)
His name is known. His choice is to return the items, donate them to charity, or be fined/imprisoned. This is very clear.
Sensible in San Francisco (San Francisco)
As a member of the US armed forces and a father, Mr. Colvin should be embarrassed by his dishonorable behavior. NYT is right to report on Mr. Colvin and others giving the larger and responsible community a voice against greed in a pandemic. While it is understandable that he wants to provide for his family financially, hoarding medical supplies, creating an unnecessary shortage, and profiting from it is reprehensible. Clearly, Mr. Colvin has forgotten that the motto of the US Air Force is "Integrity first, Service before self, Excellence in all we do".
Chris (Nashville, TN)
The fact that he spoke so openly about this with the reporters isn't going to go so well for him in his upcoming trial in Tennessee. He was issued a cease and desist order by the state Attorney General and is currently under investigation for price gouging during a state of emergency. You reap what you sow.
Loni (Texas)
Our nation is in a crisis, people are dying. And more people are going to get the virus because they don’t have access to preventative measures like sanitizer- which means more people are going to die. This guy bought everything up to try and profit in a time of devastation, an action that is literally going to cost people their lives. I wish someone could prosecute him.
The government should claim eminent domain and seize all the products, redistribute to hospitals, nursing homes, police and fire departments, etc. For the greater good.
Courtney (U.S.)
When you find yourself in a situation where Amazon clearly has the moral high ground over you, you can be sure you are acting like a jerk. Go ahead and hoard fingerling monkeys—no one is going to DIE because you did that—but hoarding medical supplies during a pandemic is definitely increasing the risk of death for other people. The fact that they are people you don't know does not absolve you. Do the right thing: Take your booty to the nearest Red Cross office and ask for forgiveness.
Chicago Guy (Chicago, Il)
Condemn all you want. This guy isn't any different than Exxon, Mobil, Shell, Pharmaceutical companies, real estate owners, etc, etc, or any other business that makes massive profits off essential, "must have" products. What do you think the profit is on a $4.00 gallon of gas? What about insulin? How about electricity? How about charging 400% on pay check loans? How about gun manufactures profits on AK-47's? THAT IS ALL LEGAL! Thanks mostly to sell-serving members of the Republican Party. To condemn someone for "gouging" in a society as financially corrupt, consumed with usury, and as rampantly capitalist as ours it the height of hypocrisy. So please, sell your indignation somewhere else!
Robbie (Athens, OH)
I see your point here, but all of those things are morally wrong. It doesn’t make what these guys did ok because other people are doing it, too.
citybumpkin (Earth)
@Chicago Guy "So please, sell your indignation somewhere else!" I was about to say the same to you. What exactly are you indignant about? That people don't like a guy trying to price-gouge doing the crisis? How does the fact big companies do it too excuse anything. The fact there are big-time crooks means small-times crooks are victims?
BJay (Pennsylvania)
@Chicago Guy, gotta disagree with most of your comment. These brothers are not formulating or manufacturing the product from raw materials. Unless you have your own personal oil well in your back yard, along with the expertise and equipment to refine that oil into a gallon of gas, your comparison doesn't equate to them buying caseloads of hand sanitizer off the shelves of the local Dollar Tree and reselling them at 700% profit.
I honestly don’t see the problem. If folks are willing to pay that amount, who cares? If I really wanted something, I’d prefer to have the option of buying it rather than be denied that opportunity. Mind you, Amazon and eBay are private businesses and can do whatever they like. It all just seems silly to me. Let people buy if they want to!
WSC (Nashville)
@JC "Willing to pay" doesn't really apply when there is a public health emergency. People don't just "want" hand sanitizer by personal preference, it's being officially recommended to avert spread of a highly contagious virus.
Marie (Grand Rapids)
@JC He's a war profiteer! It may be legal - though price gouging isn't- but it's not moral. Also, a lot of elderly and sick people, i.e. the people who truly need this stuff, are poor. Read Victor Hugo or Charles Dickens, or, if it's your thing, the Gospel: not OK!
Jw (OH)
@JC Well he essentially raided people’s local Target, leaving those people no choice but to buy it from opportunists like him at a significantly higher value. Yes, I have a problem with that! If we don’t allow businesses like Target to price gouge during a state of emergency, why would we let amazon sellers?
Ben (Florida)
I used to work at Target back in the 90s. I had a friend who used to buy up all of the hottest Christmas toys as soon as they came in. That was already crossing a line, but it isn’t even close to buying up emergency supplies to sell to the desperate at a huge markup. We are talking about life and death. People who cross that line without thinking about it risk consequences they haven’t thought about either.
Alicia Lloyd (Taipei, Taiwan)
A note on one aspect of the "costs" this seller describes. He says that the $20 he charges on Amazon includes $16 for shipping. For years now, Amazon and EBay have pushed their sellers to offer "free shipping." EBay goes so far as to collect commission on shipping costs if sellers list that cost separately from the cost of the item. To the seller, shipping is a real cost they have to pay, so when platforms pressure them to offer free shipping, they just roll that cost into the price of the item. One of these days, people will wake up to the fact that free shipping is not free. In this particular case, shipping would not be necessary if re-sellers hadn't stripped the product from local shelves.
Michael Gotsch
This is a stark reminder of the need for effective and fair government regulation, but also the difficulties of enforcement. Hoarding products and selling at a markup during a time of crisis is a stark reminder of the need for effective and fair government regulation, but also the difficulties of enforcing existing policies. Comparing Mr. Colvin's actions to those of large companies does not make them moral or ethical. I am all for entreprenuership, but not at the expense of public health of safety.This is a stark reminder of the need for effective and fair government regulation, but also the difficulties of enforcement. Hoarding products and selling at a markup during a time of crisis is a stark reminder of the need for effective and fair government regulation, but also the difficulties of enforcing existing policies. Comparing Mr. Colvin's actions to those of large companies does not make them moral or ethical. I am all for entrepreneurship, but not at the expense of public health or safety.
Joe W (Chicago, IL)
Raising prices during an emergency "feels" unfair. But it may be very helpful. Not only does it prevent people from buying more than they need, but it sends signals to suppliers to increase production. I've had trouble buying alcohol in the last few days. I already know that traditional manufacturers are already making as much as they can. But I don't know if they would make more on a 3rd shift, except that overtime and weekend work might double their cost - it may not make economic sense for them unless they can also charge more. It might be that non-traditional manufacturers such as distilleries - could change over their equipment to manufacture rubbing alcohol in the required concentrations. Except their equipment is less efficient for this. And they will have to reconfigure their production before, and cleanse their equipment after. It may not make sense to do based on the prices in the "non-emergency" market. Higher prices ALWAYS increases production, because it encourages additional (and more costly) producers and processes. So... price-gouging may feel unfair at a micro level, but may be just what we need at a macro level.
Alex (NY)
This seems a clear example of the destructiveness of unregulated capitalism. Wouldn't we all like to live in a world where we could all walk into a store and buy what we need at a fair price, especially in crisis situations? The behavior of the Colvins, like that of large corporations on a more sophisticated level, disrupts the distribution process (contrary to their self-serving claim) and undermines the great benefit of the competitive energy that well-regulated capitalism can provide.
CFTM (San Francisco)
If the law allows the US government to infringe on pharmaceutical patents (at will, actually, but certainly during an epidemic) in the interests of the public good, then certainly it makes sense to confiscate and distribute this fellow's stockpiles of hand sanitizer.
Eskibas (Missoula Mt)
You can buy a bottle of Everclear from a liquor store, put wipes or paper towels in a container, add water and however much of the Everclear to make it over 60% alcohol. You can also choose to drink the Everclear if needed.
Frances Grimble (San Francisco)
Another item that is suddenly unavailable is all-purpose flour. At least one person is selling it on Amazon for $20/pound.
Kristin (USA)
Fb has several different searches for this man. I bet he could sell his stuff to people very quickly through Facebook. I do see how he wants to make a profit. Maybe raising the price a couple of dollars so he would break even wouldn’t be a bad idea. The shelves are empty of those items. But, I would not pay outrageous prices for one of those items either. He could also list them on Craig’s list.
NDOKVHA (reality)
It's not so bad if they're selling toys, but when it comes to healthcare goods, these "retail arbitrageurs" are evil. The hand sanitizer they bought was perfectly positioned to do the most good, that is, it was in retail stores where people could get it. Now it's in the hands of people who are basically hoarders. That said, the retail stores who had the goods in the first place should have limited purchases to a reasonable number.
Joanna Stasia (NYC)
Had there been any thoughtful, smart, professional, organized leaders preparing for the nuts-and-bolts of fighting an approaching pandemic, stores and suppliers of these types of necessary supplies would have been ordered to ration these things, with reasonable per-person limits that would have been publicized far and wide with a process to report businesses that are price-gouging or not enforcing purchasing limits. Backing up even further, there would be federal stockpiles of masks and hand sanitizers and ventilators readied for deployment to hot-spots. Unfortunately, our government was too busy cutting the budgets for pandemic preparedness, actually disbanding offices and units tasked with preparation and stockpiling oil instead of ventilators.
What to do (Canberra)
If I get supply directly from manufacturers, I should be allowed to sell it at whatever I want, if someone is paying what is your problem? Whereas, if I am literally picking it from stores... and emptying the supply, that is a different story.
tellucas (los angeles)
I dont look favorably on people who turn an emergency into an opportunity to unjustly enrich themselves. This person may have deprived many others with limited financial resources of the ability to get what they need by buying up all the retail products he could find even though they were not his personal use. The commercially obtained bulk products is another story.
CitizenTM (NYC)
Another solution to bet these into would simply be to enforce manufacturer recommended resale prices or to enforce him selling it at those prices - plus a handling fee if one wants to be kind - to a hospital or other outlets. Profiteering is as old as any crisis.
sdavidc9 (Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut)
Masks and hand sanitizers should go to those who need them most -- health care workers, the elderly, and those in bad health. That is Karl Marx, among others, probably including the pope. Right now what determines who needs them most is money; that is what free enterprise is. What should determine who needs them most are government officials sworn to do this, who should be and sometimes are as fair as referees and umpires and other judges who are generally fair. If everyone agrees that price gouging is immoral and means it, most people will avoid doing it. But we do not have such an agreement; many people admire entrepreneurs who seize opportunities, and dislike bureaucracy that gets in their way, and others are not honest about what they believe, even to themselves.
EllyNC (NC)
They premeditated their scheme to gouge fellow Americans during a health crisis. Who truly believes that this is how we should behave? I am in risk pool. I have gone to 4 stores in last 2 weeks. Local pharmacies, Walmart and not 1 bottle to be found of alcohol isopropyl. I can’t afford $30. A bottle or more. I m trying to make sanitizer. I found aloe for $25. A bottle. I usually buy sanitizer at Dollar store. What do you think I would end up paying for sanitizer going this route? If anything supplies should be limited, priced for emergency and that doesn’t mean at pirates prices. My daughter is a nurse so we worry about her being in the hospital. All this is unnecessary. People shouldn’t have to worry about getting simple every day items and getting sick also. So my daughter told me she doesn’t think we should go out. Order online it’s a vicious circle.
Scott Newton (San Francisco , Ca)
No sympathy for the brothers who made sure that people in many communities cannot go to their local store and pay fair price for goods they need in this crisis. They created an artificial shortage in all of the stores they cleaned out, in order to sell them at an outrageous markup. They should be prosecuted. Buying collectable items to re-sell is one thing, but basic sanitation supplies needed in a pandemic is unconscionable .
Concerned Citizen (New jersey)
Unfortunately during a crisis or a war there are those who will always make a dollar off the suffering & concerns of others. Of course in capitalism one wants to make a profit but this a national health emergency. To profit at the expense of others is wrong especially at a time like this. Then again people who do undertake to make more than a fair profit have to live with themselves. I do not have to.
Kath (NE)
The problem is when you have hospitals, nursing homes, and people as well as children who have weak immune systems due to health issues IE: Trach or a g-tube to feed as well as breathing tubes. So, it isn't a problem for you JC but it sure is for those who need it.
Joanie (Ukiah, California)
In California,(where I live) these actions violate the state penal code for profiteering during a declared state of emergency. Violators face fines of up to $10,000. per instance and possible jail time for selling items for more than 10% above the price on the day a state of emergency was declared. Specific items for sale are listed in the penal code.
Tom Jones (Austin, TX)
I have NO sympathy for this guy. I'm sure it's another issue when you get the heads up on the sale of a cheap items like car parts or video games that you can buy and sell to make a profit. But it's an entirely different case when you buy up ALL the health related items of a certain type that people need during an encroaching health crisis. Sure, everyone deserves to be able to make a buck but surely scalping health related items like this hand sanitizer and surgical masks is TOO much! How many people and families has this fellow hurt by his actions? Too many.
samiam (Ohio)
To all of you who do not see a problem; please know that as an Emergency Department nurse I would like to tell you that it is a huge problem. All of us on the frontline of this crisis are facing the possibility of not having the personal protective equipment that we need to keep us safe while we do our jobs. We risk our health as well as the health of our loved ones to care for those who suffer from all forms of illness, infectious or not. We need to keep the vulnerable among us safe as we care for all who need us. Our hospitals across the country are struggling to secure masks, gloves and sanitizer because of this hoarding of essential safety equipment. We all willing to be there for everyone; we are just asking for a little consideration for the greater good.
abj slant (Akron)
Supply and demand. That capitalist mantra that has guided American business magnates since our nation's inception, is now butting up against a fine example of Sanders' version of democratic socialism: stricter controls of how to market goods and services, while still protecting individuals. While this is a good example of the pros and cons of capitalism, the health care industry is an even better example, IMO. Is health care a commodity or a civil right?
Bob (Austin)
After shipping and fees, plus expenses like driving around and storage, and food while driving, I wonder how much he made. If you bought omen bottle for $1 and resold it for $11, and its $10 to ship, you’d lose money. So what should he actually making per bottle? $4?
vcoh (10520)
Disgraceful. While others need, you hoard and try to sell at a profit. I have been to my local pharmacy this week. They had some supplies. I bought a few items leaving the rest for my community. We are all in this together.
David (El Cerrito, CA)
Based on the number of comments here and shares I've seen on Twitter, I won't be surprised if this symbol of unadulterated greed becomes a lasting symbol of these few months. Let's hope we see some uplifting symbols too, of our collective kindness and humanity!
Katz (Tennessee)
Mr. Colvin's "labor," for which he thinks he should be paid, involves cleaning stores out of products people need and then charging exorbitant prices to ship them, which also delays their availability. The idea that he considers anything he did relating to these products a service that people should pay for is laughable.
Sneha (California)
All the stores have generous return policy, please return them to the stores. Unethical money making always have an inherent risk of crackdown
Libby (Tardian)
This was wise of Amazon and ebay to prevent price gauging and class warfare. Do we need the lower classes taking on more infections because they don't have the proper tools for resistance to infection like hand sanitizer? They are standing with the general population on the subway, on the streets. He needs to mitigate his loses and begin to sell product online at a fair price.
History Professor (New York City)
A unit of the NSC dedicated to contingency planning for future pandemics--such as the one the Trump regime abolished in 2018--could have foreseen the need for such items as hand sanitizer and protective masks and laid out procedures to head off preemptive buying, profiteering, and hoarding. "Market inefficiencies" and "perverse incentives" in a public health emergency such as we now face are not aberrations. They are exactly what any contingency planners worth their salt would predict.
Bbr22 (Nyc)
I’ve been reading the comments after the article, and I’m even more disturbed than just this information about this guy and thousands others. We are not talking about the latest pair of sneakers, we are speaking about life saving products in a life or death crisis. Yes, price gouging by pharmaceutical companies and gas is the norm. Yes, capitalism has shown its ugliest side and everyday we are subjected to more and more of it, especially with the rise of this type of Republican Party, but it certainly doesn’t make it right. We are supposed to care about one another. We aren’t supposed to take advantage of a crisis for self gain. He stockpiled vital goods to price gouge - Donate your 17,000 bottles or sell them at a basic mark up. Do the right thing, and if you survive this pandemic, there will be loads of opportunities to make loads of money. You seem to have a “keen” business sense.
Jill (18202)
Well if you can’t sell it donate it.I am sure there are many nursing homes or women’s shelters etc that can use it!
Gypsy Mandelbaum (Seattle)
So many comments point out that corporations behave this way on a daily basis. Maybe they think they're adding shareholder value. Whatever - their behavior serves as a model for people like Matt Colvin. They should all be regulated or otherwise discouraged, starting with the corporate personages of Big Pharma and Fossil Fuel.
Draven McHenry (New York)
eBay cancelled auctions because of price gouging? That is the DEFINITION of eBay's Standard Operating Procedure. They are an auction site for civilians and company's to sell their products for a profit or discount for what you can find in stores. That's why they are a Fortune 500 company. You think they got there by playing nice and making fair and equal deals? Do pawn shops buy cheap and then sell high?
Some Dude (CA Sierra Country)
Colvin and the rest of the "retail arbitrage" clan trying to pry a buck out of the pandemic are bad enough, but worse still are the numerous "free market defenders" who see nothing wrong. They exhibit a deep misunderstanding of capitalism that may be a cause of many of our social ills. To be clear, Colvin is a market manipulator. He created a product scarcity by buying all of it. Then he acted like any good monopolist; he raised the price. That is emphatically not a free market. It is actually a market distortion. He is a miniature version of the Hunt brothers who cornered the market on silver and almost tanked the world economy in the process. No free market model supports this kind of activity. The Hunts went to jail for it. These guys are much smaller operators, but they're playing with lives here. Unconscionable behavior deserves legal action.
Jim Paulson (Chicago area)
This is no "victimless" crime. The victims are the people in the small towns with no access to the sanitizer. The "businessmen" who ran this scheme are no entrepreneurs -- merely thieves taking advantage. Amazon, eBay and other sites that permitted this before their pangs of conscience seized them should be regulated by state and federal governments and required to pay damages to the victims.
Jim (Louisiana)
The mechanism of capitalist viral mutation, these two will become CEO’s of oil and pharmaceutical corporations. Next story; The World Needs Masks. China Makes Them — But Has Been Hoarding Them.
Adam (KS)
So when I go to every store in the entire city unsuccessfully looking for hand sanitizer, it's because of guys like this?
Observer (US)
He admitted to clearing out every store in the area. Economists have a term for this: MONOPOLY. When you own the market, you can set any price you want. It might look crazy to charge $500 a bottle, but trust me, it has a simple explanation in economics. That's the reason governments around the world fight monopolies as if they were the plague. Because let's face it: They are!
Luna (Indiana)
He is seriously trying to justify this by saying he was doing a public service. For that to be true he would have to only charge at cost*, not have cleared the shelves, and be right about supply issues. I hope he and all these other opportunists are put in jail. And have to refund buyers all their ill-gotten profits. *price he paid and shipping not his idea of labor.
Terry L (PNW)
“He thought about it more. “I honestly feel like it’s a public service,” he added. “I’m being paid for my public service.”” If it were public service, he should have sold the at a reasonable price with a small profit; better yet, donated to the needy for free. Profiting from an epidemic is not a public service.
Jill (Pennsylvania)
Donate it to your local nursing home or women’s shelter etc. those are the people that need it the most.
Nichole (USA)
I have a son with an auto immune disease on immunosuppressant meds. I am not able to find any hand sanitizer for miles in a very populated area for the past week. Hoarders mike this is why, I just want a bottle to help with anxiety and I cannot even get that. Very frustrating hearing these stories.
J in UT (Utah)
Mattcolvin.com indicates that he’s seen the error of his ways and these supplies are being donated.
Pete in Downtown (back in town)
There is a fundamental difference between exploiting a momentary fad, like some puppet one just to have for Christmas, and removing supplies important for life and health from the shelves to resell at enormous markups. This behavior is repugnant, and Amazon and eBay have it right!
Gypsy Mandelbaum (Seattle)
@Pete in Downtown It took them long enough.
Laura (Cocoa Beach, Florida)
I believe what goes around comes around. He should donate these items. And then he'd be entitled to hope he doesn't contract the virus.
Ms. Bay (Bay Shore, NY)
Could not agree more
A.L. (Las Vegas)
Sorry, but this is basic Capitalism 101. How are these guys any more deplorable than pharmaceutical companies, banks, and multinational corporations? Small potatoes. Look instead at the everyday, business as usual, real immorality of profit before all else.
woody (new york)
Capitalism is one thing, no problem. Hoarding and price gouging during a national emergency is another. In your opinion, would it have been ok to do something similar with protective gear needed by those who responded to 9/11?
CathyH (Hong Kong)
I guess you never made it to capitalism 201? Cornering markets is illegal in most capitalist systems.
Angel (New Mexico, USA)
You’re not wrong but it doesn’t make it right.
Lynn (Canada)
Retail arbitrage has its place, but its place is nowhere near a disaster, a pandemic, or any other human tragedy. Capitalizing on the Coronavirus is wrong on so many fronts. Anyone taking advantage of human suffering and sees no problem with that is edging towards psychopathic behaviour and needs help.
Judith Hoy (Asheville NC)
The price of insulin charged by some pharmaceutical companies is despicable too. How do we manage that?
HotGumption (Providence RI)
These are the kind of men my mother warned me about; fortunately I heeded her advice. I feel clean because of that.
Stevie B. (San Francisco)
Kind of an amazing intervention on behalf of Amazon, on what would otherwise be a seller behaving as expected in a free market. Worse yet, Amazon is essentially denying him its services as a marketplace—an exercise of absolute power to meddle in the nation's most prominent market. ...and yet no free market activists have attached themselves to this story
Julio Wong (El Dorado, OH)
@Stevie B. - There’s no such thing as a free market. That’s just a tawdry term used to justify exploitation. If markets were really free, there wouldn’t be any subsidies or bailouts. Of any kind. For anything.
Ana (Alabama)
Don’t confuse freedom with the absence of law. We don’t live in caves anymore. Capitalism should have rules. What these people are doing is like theft and it should be illegal, even when it comes to a toy. In the case of a disaster such as this, these people are more than thieves, they’re potential murderers. Business is supposed to bring value and these people don’t. They just steal it and sell it later to the same people who are now desperate. Capitalism doesn’t mean that we can bid on who gets treated first in the emergency room, it means that we can choose which emergency room to go to. Big companies are doing some bad things, but that’s a completely different topic.
Garry (Eugene)
@Steve B. For good reason, as profiteering from the misery of others is morally reprehensible.
RonO (Los Angeles, CA)
Sadly, this guy is sitting on products that could benefit a lot of people. Someone needs to offer him a decent price, then distribute the items to people in need.
Tom Scott (Santa Rosa, CA)
@RonO Or someone in our government should seize these supplies and have CDC or the Red Cross distribute them in an effective and efficient manner. You know, like Colvin was trying to do but without making an obscene profit at the expense of human life.
Fish (New York City)
by decent you mean what he paid or less since he made profit already
Christina (Oregon)
@RonO How about he gets NOTHING.
Joel Stegner (Edina, MN)
This is the “it is all about me” philosophy that so many Americans starting with our President subscribe to. If you want to punish individuals, then apply the same standards to large business. The prime example - payday lenders and the tobacco companies.
Garry (Eugene)
@Joel Stegner Those companies get away with this through highly paid lobbyists who pour money in the campaign coffers of both Republicans and Democrats to give them a pass. Our free press should be highlighting this outrageous exploitation of the poor.
Lu (Brooklyn)
@Joel Stegner Don’t forget pharma
Joe Schmoe (Brooklyn)
@Joel Stegner: Oh really? See Manny Ranga and Violeta Perez from Toronto. I suppose you'll just say that Canada is part of the "Americas" and thus just as innately immoral and solipsistic. You need to get out more if you think this selfish, opportunistic behavior isn't replicated worldwide. Where it isn't, you'll probably find an extremely homogeneous population in all respects.
Sainath (Middletown, CT)
Re:"Mr. Colvin does not believe he was price gouging. While he charged $20 on Amazon for two bottles of Purell that retail for $1 each, he said people forget that his price includes his labor, Amazon’s fees and about $10 in shipping." What about the person who was at the mentioned stores trying to buy it for $1 + tax? really Mr. Colvin?? Can the Air Force not take some action against him?
From Where I Sit (Gotham)
Less than a month ago, courts decided that the military can enforce the UCMJ against retired members. Retired personnel are in a quasi reserve status since they can be called back to duty as a condition of their pension and the court accepted the argument that they are therefore still subject to military justice.
Tom Scott (Santa Rosa, CA)
@Sainath He claims he was trying to fix "inefficiencies in the marketplace". But with his labor, Amazon fees, and shipping expenses, it hardly sounds efficient. He's just a bottom-feeding profiteer.
PattieD (GA)
Why is there an article written about such a person, they should not get any publicity and that's exactly what they want. I would never buy anything from them. If they are sellers on Amazon I hope they ban them forever and if not I will sure hope to verify that anything I buy on Amazon is not from them. They are heartless and have no care for anyone, I sure wouldn't want any donation from them. And same for those companies and other people who are price gouging, heartless.
Gypsy Mandelbaum (Seattle)
@PattieD I think these guys are awful but thank the Times for publishing the article about them. It's like the recent one about the Bernie Bros who are oblivious to the impact of their actions on others. It's just normal to them. I'm glad to know their names so I'll know never to buy from them (if they're allowed back in). But I guarantee their lives are not fun these days because of this article and I find that satisfying.
From Where I Sit (Gotham)
One question not raised here is the supply lines in question. I’m all for free market capitalism but manufacturers and suppliers have an incentive to maintain quality from the production line through the retail or professional user experience. In addition, recalls can’t be effective if the province of a product cannot be determined. As others have noted, these items really shouldn’t enter the supply stream for medical facilities due to their strict procurement standards.
Chris Casparus (East Coast)
So my daughter works at a large metropolitan D.C. hospital. The nurses at the hospital have been told that the N95 face masks are in very short supply and that the lesser protective face masks “are probably ok” if caring for a patient in respiratory isolation. I feel worried for my daughter and all those on the front line who will be caring for patients with Coronavirus. Hopefully this man will do some soul searching and donate these supplies to where they are needed quickly.
Garry (Eugene)
@Chris Casparus Sadly, I doubt it.
NW Mom (Portland, Oregon)
I don’t have time to scan all of the comments but the first thought that comes to my mind is for these guys to return the items to local stores that will refund them the money they paid. If they do so within the store’s return policy he could recoup a certain amount of money. Dollar Stores have only an exchange option in my area. If they were smart enough to keep the receipts some of their money can be recouped. Sell in the community at a small profit. Not a full solution but a start for to deplete his inventory and others to acquire the product they need. Also they better report their side income or they may run into tax issues in the future.
K D (Pa)
Many of the things we hear about are the very things we have been told we should have on hand in case of emergencies. Remember we rarely get much warning when it comes to an emergency. I have extra toilet paper on hand because I buy when it goes on sale and I have a coupon. I just added 32 rolls to the food pantry pickup that our neighborhood supports. I also dropped off some for friends who are not as well prepared. Of course I could put some of the half dozen bottles of rubbing alcohol I have on eBay. I get those to take care of my sunroom plants (bugs) when I go to Costco every other month but I think good old soap and water does a better job for your hands.
cindy (BC)
why not open a small store and sell even offer delivery. I don't like price gouging either.
Chad Uselman (SD)
Companies create the products for cheap. Sell them to retailers for more. The retailers sell them for more. Sometimes quite a bit more. He took and was selling them for greatly above the MSRP. But these aren't generally non-essential items he's hoarded to resell. He took and bought them at retail only to resell them for significantly more to fully take advantage of a health crisis or serious health situation. If retailers wanted to do that they could. But he choose to do it for significantly more. He didn't care about you, your family, or your friends. He was taking advantage of a serious health situation, then making it more serious by wiping stores out of the product so those people could struggle and suffer all so he could profit. He's not a victim. Not in any capacity. He was doing it with health products and other necessities. Not TVs and Pokemon. Think of all of the people that could have been helped with those products. But instead there they sit not being used. People like him are the problem. They aren't capitalists. They are far far worse.
Andrew Kennelly (Redmond, WA)
With respect to high-demand items during times of crisis, I'd like to see retailers double or triple the price of such items to discourage hoarding and encourage conservative use of such products, but the incremental price would be placed in a charitable fund to be used for purposes related to the crisis, so that no retailer can be accused of taking advantage of the crisis to profit from spiked prices. On top of that, enforce reasonable limits on quantities.
Garry (Eugene)
@Andrew Kennelly That strategy would discriminate against lower incomes. Why not have the stores place a limit to the amounts one can purchase? After a run on toilet paper, a local store here placed toilet paper in the back and only gives it out “one” to a customer.
Don Williams (Philadelphia)
95% of Americans would be far better prepared to deal with this coronavirus disaster (medical bills, lost wages, expenses) if the Richest 1% didn't "hoard" about 25% of the national income and an even greater share of the national wealth. I don't see any two-faced prosecutors, judges, politicans and policemen doing anything about that, however.
Kurt (Kansas)
Stopping sellers from making excessive profits from a public health crisis? Isn’t this what pharmaceutical companies do on a daily basis? Maybe someone needs to stop them...
Grant (Costa Mesa)
By your own standards of morality, these men are moral heroes. They're enabling those who need these supplies most - those in affected areas, to whom the value of the goods is worth the increased cost - to have the stock they need. They're keeping the supplies away from those who don't need them as much (like me, who doesn't need hand sanitizer enough to pay $20 for it) and ensuring it's in stock for those who truly need it and will pay $20 (like the new mother). If you'd like to see what happens when people don't price gouge, look at toilet paper. The neediest among us, those who would spend $100 or more on it right now, will struggle to find it. All the money in the world won't make the toilet paper available to them, not until it's restocked. If toilet paper was price gouged, it would be available to them. These price-gouging men are the needy person's best friends. But, my standards of morality are not yours. These men are moral, but not because they're performing a public service. They're moral because they're living life for themselves, pursuing their own happiness even in darker times like these. They're finding opportunities to enrich their lives and taking full advantage. They're selfish, and that's good. Price gouging is moral and should be legal. It should be encouraged in a crisis because it benefits everybody, but most importantly the men and women putting in the hard work to deliver the goods. I take my hat off to the price gougers.
Arhat (Sammamish, WA)
Hopefully you’ll still feel that way when you’re on the paying end of price gouging for supplies you need to live during a crisis.
Some Dude (CA Sierra Country)
@Grant I totally disagree. Look into the Hunt brothers and their manipulation of silver and soy beans. This is market failure and calls for regulation and sanction.
Gary (Nagoya, Japan)
Thanks, Ayn Rand.
Asher (Chicago)
He can drive somewhere and set up a mobile store -- and sell them for 100% above the purchase price -- people will buy. Something bought for 3.00 can sell for 6.00, but should not be selling for 60.00 and that too in these desperate times.
john (Harlem)
I am surprised at all the negative comments. These business people are just like any financial shark that works on Wall street. You have no problem with them?
Lu (Brooklyn)
@john I DO have a problem with then.
Garry (Eugene)
@John I have a huge problem with them.
Shannon (Seattle)
Shame that this U.S. Veteran must resort to hustling to earn a living. He obviously has intelligence and interesting skills. He would be great in supply chain logistics.
Jon (NY)
Nope. He was already making six figures selling things on Amazon before his Purell exploitation. He is not some down and out Vet. He chose to be greedy and exploit a pandemic.
RR (Poulsbo, WA)
On behalf of the folks out here who make their living in logistics and supply chain services: No, no he would not.
RR (Poulsbo, WA)
On the behalf of all the people out here who make a living in supply chain and logistics services: No, no he would not
Aaron (Worcester, MA)
I'm basically sympathetic to him. It *might* be reasonable for Amazon to cap the price he can charge and make clear to anyone buying from him that they won't be allowed to re-sell at a higher price, but making it hard (or impossible) for people willing to pay those prices to buy from him? That's totalitarian, and I hope that the Trump administration will pursue an anti-trust action against Amazon and E-bay for this.
Theodore (D.C.)
Amazon and Ebay aren't preventing him from selling, only from selling through their venues. That's not monopolizing. If he can sell his product on his own, good for him. If he can't sell without the crutch of Amazon or Ebay, too bad. They're free to make the rules that govern selling through them, and he's free to build his own website or set up a tent in his driveway.
Amanda (Purcellville VA)
@Aaron: By hoarding for re-selling, he is harming others - he is keeping the product from others at the original price and padding it with his mark-up, adding no value. Let him peddle it from a push-cart. I have zero sympathy for him. This is profiteering.
Amy (New York)
@Aaron Disagree. Amazon and Ebay have the right to deny people the use of their platform as long as they're not discriminating on race, gender, etc.
Randy Gage (Miami)
"Mr. Colvin does not believe he was price gouging." You have got to be kidding me.
EllyNC (NC)
“There are none so blind that will not see.” Open your eyes, your conscience, your mind. What if your neighbors bought up all the food for miles and charged you at your profit rate. A gallon of milk let’s say it’s usually $3. We’ll charge you $50. , loaf of bread $45.,eggs $55.
David (Bexley OH)
No where to sell it? Oh please. Park your car at any supermarket, open your trunk, and sell each bottle for $2.00 a bottle with a limit of two per customer. He would double his profits and help thousands of people. If he holds onto it, he potentially risks losing any profit and loses the opportunity to help people. Horrible ethics.
John Ours (Cleveland, Ohio)
Noah, I’ll pay you a dollar a bottle and we’ll donate the whole inventory to areas that need it. You’ll recover half your investment, communities will benefit, and you’ll no longer be the guy hoarding 20,000 bottles of sanitizer during a pandemic. What do you say?
No name (earth)
capitalism! free market! supply and demand! here are the consequences of that morally bankrupt ideology, and what happens without intervention.
Ken R. (Newport News, VA)
I find it hard to sympathize with this person. BTW - shouldn't retailers step up and say 1 bottle per person per day?
Christine (California)
Actually I just heard a doctor on TV say that hand sanitizers are not a good idea because they kill bacteria and we could then develop a superbug that no antibiotic could help. We would have a virus and a bacteria pandemic!
dhfx (Austin TX)
Now that a national emergency has been declared, can Federal marshals come and confiscate the hoards for public distribution?
Frances Grimble (San Francisco)
Judging from listings on my local Craigslist, that's where people are price gouging for masks now.
Kan (Upstate)
The state government should come in and seize the haul, then redistribute it within the states where it was bought. The state can give the price gougers face value for the price of the products.
F Grasso (CT)
Amazon should be policing such price gouging. Mr. Colvin should be banned for life from Amazon and all his profits should either be returned to the buyers or refunded by Amazon.
Marie (Grand Rapids)
@F Grasso But doesn’t Amazon make a profit on price gouging? A lot of the products they sell are actually more expensive than at local stores or other websites.
Eric (New York)
There are times one can see so very clearly the problems with a capitalist society. What these guys did might be legal (buying up essential products of which there is a shortage during a crisis should be a crime) but it’s selfish and hurts the common good.
Lu (Brooklyn)
@Eric It’s actually not legal in many states (including NY) to price gauge during an emergency.
KBM (Gainesville, Florida)
Hope he gets stuck with it all. If he had made a reasonable profit and provided a service, that would have been fine, what he did is NOT ok.
GK (New Jersey)
Tough new laws are needed so that more lives are not lost from these amoral profiteers of human suffering. This is what legislatures and government are for - to protect us from this type of harm. Elected officials, please take notice and get to work on this, now!
Shirley (Minnesota)
Cognitive dissonance is such a real thing. He thinks he isn't the bad guy but he is profiting off others' misfortune. He is buying supplies in mass stock and being paid for his labor? He is responsible for depleting his own market. He knows there is a demand for it and the supply is limited, it is based economics but he is also contributing to driving up prices. This is wrong in any situation and the fact that he made so much clearly indicates that he knows what he is doing. Of course the villain doesn't think he is doing anything wrong. There are people unable to get these supplies who have the virus, he is singlehandedly contributing to the spread of this virus from undiagnosed cases. American capitalism at its finest.
wd funderburk (tulsa, ok)
@Shirley ---> This is not capitalism. What might better be termed "exploitative mercantilism & price gouging" by a morally compromised opportunist has been caught redhanded rationalizing a path as a victim at the expense of the common good.
Becker (Cincinnati)
Hope Mr capitalist realizes that there is only just enough alcohol in the formulation to kill most (not all) bugs, and that small molecules like ethanol and isopropyl alcohol can gradually permeate through the plastic bottle. So....your 17,000 bottles have a comparatively short shelf life. Soon you will be sitting on tons of inactive gel. Enjoy!
Christopher (P.)
Gosh, I sure hope the storage locker where they are hoarding this ill-gotten gain has been sanitized and disinfected -- not.
Dutch (Seattle)
Since we are in a National Emergency, I think the local authorities should have to right to prosecute and expropriate
Blinker (Hong Kong)
During WW2, aside from the opprobrium of one's neighbors, there were laws against hoarding and black marketing. I wonder if any of these are still on the books, dormant perhaps, but maybe applicable in the current crisis.
Kendall B (Austin)
Where is the contempt for Amazon? Without the platform, these price gougers wouldn’t have a place to sell. Big tech is the problem here too as it is in so many aspects of our lives.
Caroline (Fl)
Sad comment on the morality of some people. They could be risking others lives who were unable to buy these much needed items Profit over morality. Seems Trump has brought the stout in people already on the edge.
Melbourne Town (Melbourne, Australia)
Ummm. So he claims he bumped up his prices because his costs went up, but then admits he has made a substantial profit?
D G (Phoenix)
This constitutes anti-social behavior, as does “gray-marketing” of drugs during scarcity. Both are moral defects which should not be tolerated.
Kathleen Nuwayhid (El Paso, TX)
Big pharma at it’s best. Remember the guy who bought the patent on the Epipen and tried to increase the price so that most people couldn’t afford it? Same thing, just on a different scale. Because you have his name, he can personally be attacked. So much of this is going on behind the scenes and we just aren’t aware of it. Welcome to the free market economy.
Donna (San Jose, CA)
There is a difference between being first to the store to procure the latest collectible (Nike shoes, the latest toy)... versus hoarding essential supplies. Resell a Nintendo game to someone choosing a premium over scouring stores themselves... no moral foul. Opportunistic behavior placing the community at risk... unforgivable.
Donald S (Southern Utah)
Hand sanitizer made easy. Purchase a 16oz. or 32oz. bottle of a mild, inexpensive hand lotion with the pump (we like unscented), now a get yourself a 16oz or 32oz. bottle of 91% isopropyl standard rubbing alcohol and a funnel. Be sure it’s wide enough at the bottom to insert into the hand lotion bottle. Once home combine roughly 40% hand lotion with 60% isopropyl alcohol into a food processor, blender or old school eggbeater - mix until it’s somewhat runny. Once you’re done - place your funnel inside the lotion bottle and fill it up - leave enough room for the pump. Remember to shake it well before each use. Please share this with the world!
Michigander (U.S. of A.)
@Donald The problem is that rubbing alcohol cannot be found, either.
Teacher (NYC)
As of 3 WEEKS ago, there was not a SINGLE bottle of Rubbing Alcohol on any shelf in NYC. Does vodka work instead?
Marty (Pacific Northwest)
Move over, Nikki Haley. The GOP has found its standard-bearer for 2024.
Minds Eye (Chelsea MI)
I hope this man and other such corrupt opportunistic individuals like him get a taste of their own medicine some day when their family badly, awfully, terribly needs something for their own safety and security and someone is hoarding it and charging an unfathomable amount for it. Karma always comes back to haunt you and this man will pay a price (pun intended) someday soon. I promise you!
Candlewick (Ubiquitous Drive)
In California, individuals need a Seller's Permit if selling items more than 3 times in a 12 month period- even online. You're also required to pay taxes. (https://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/formspubs/pub107/) [Pub.109 & 177].
Mary Elizabeth Lease (Eastern Oregon)
@Candlewick another driver of California's population exodus.
Don Juan (Washington)
I just hope he and his brother will be banned for life selling on Amazon.
Texas Native (DFW TX)
If he donates, he can take a tax write off and probably avoid paying taxes on what he did sell... That is the American way, folks... Don’t blame him. Blame a government that cut our pandemic research and response teams that Obama created—because everything Obama must go... Blame a president that wouldn’t accept help from WHO and wanted an “American test” made by American companies so they could make a profit Blame medical personnel who refuse to hold a president accountable when he lies to the public about the realities of this pandemic...
Anne (Los Angeles)
He should be arrested and supplies confiscated to people in need. What an abysmal situation.
Matt (Wooten)
These guys need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Not only should they be prosecuted for price gouging but for what ever the applicable murder level charge would be for anyone who dies in the areas where they depleted the supplies of these products. The remaining stock should be confiscated and given to families in the areas he robbed of these life saving products. Any revenue they made during this despicable venture also needs to be taken and used for the greater good. These guys are not family men. Don't believe their spin on things now that they have been caught. Had they gotten away with it they would be bragging about how much money they made while people die in the areas they depleted. They are sinful greedy jerks who care nothing of others and will likely be at least partially responsible for the death of people who are truly family oriented.
hop sing (SF, california)
Live by the scam, die by the scam. Character is fate. Meantime, big money with this same model is busy trying to ensure that the outcome of this episode is more inequality.
Aaron (California)
“You’re being selfish, hoarding resources for your own personal gain,” A whole article vilifying budding capitalists when, surely Bezos never hoarded resources for his own personal gain. Guess he's nipping the competition at the bud.
Isobel (Michigan)
Why not publish his address and then we can all go and get what we need. He has made back his investment. Such a misguided person....ruled by greed.
Dani (NYC)
These are the types of people who voted for Trump.
chris87654 (STL MO)
He should sell them for a reasonable price - 100% markup not unreasonable now ... if he wants $70/bottle, I hope he gets burned - BAD. This guy cleaned out shelves for selfish reasons and prevented thousands of people from getting any.
This guy should be prosecuted . The merchandise requisitioned. We are in a war situation as a French doctor at the head of the biggest hospital in Paris declared.
Elrod (Maryville, TN)
This guy is morally confused. And I say that literally. He has no idea that what he did was awful, but seems to have discovered that it really was an awful thing and now wants to make amends. I live in East Tennessee (though not Chattanooga) and I can totally see this happening here.
Kate Drinian (The Wild Blue Yonder)
Actually, he still doesn’t think he did anything wrong. A television reporter interviewed him, and when the reporter asked him if he would say that he’s sorry about what he had done, there was an extremely long pause followed by “No, I don’t think that l would.” He said that in business there’s wins and there’s losses, “...and cutting my losses is the right thing to do.” He’s still looking at it from the “me, me, me” perspective - cutting *his* losses by “making plans” (his words) to donate these items is in *his* best interest. He’s not considering donating because it’s in the best interests of his fellow human beings who need these items and because it’s the right, moral thing to do to make amends for his predatory behavior. It’s still all about him.
I wonder if he'd be interested in buying my stockpile of very tiny violins....
Ellen Freilich (New York City)
What's written on that T-shirt that Noah Colvin is wearing? "On your mark, get set, LEAVE!" Hmmm. What could that be about? (See photo in article.)
Jodi (Tucson)
The boys don't get it, do not understand their greed. Hope they will donate aplenty to hospitals friends, offices, charities, stores, and restaurants. Meantime I hope they run out of toilet paper.
GO (New York)
We have eminent domain...insane that the government can seize property your family has owned for generations, but not a stockpile of sanitizer for urgent public safety?
Paca (L.A.)
He could mitigate losses by selling the remaining product at normal margins. "Oh poor me!"? I think not.
Midway (Midwest)
This man is not a "businessman". He simply has no ethics and is willing to make a "profit" that others are not. He would want protection of law if other come and use force to take what he has, and demand he cease his "business" activities. Imagine if we all stooped to the level of his "business" being parasitic and not producing or creating anything independently. Just exploiting situations for our own needs. He's a former military man, all right. Even sold his family name and reputation here to brag on what he has already put in the bank off his "business" activities...
elizabeth (midwest)
When two brothers in TN have an entrepreneurial spirit and can make a profit it's price gauging, but when a millionaire from NYC, or Big Pharma makes profits it's called "The American Way" - oh please.
DB (Earrth)
Doesn't make it right though.
Lu (Brooklyn)
@elizabeth They’re both called price gauging.
T (Colorado)
@elizabeth Yep, these two, Trump, and GOP donors have a lot in common.
Jackiefab (Seattle)
And good luck EVER getting back on Amazon, you opportunist gouger.
ThetaSigma (US)
I work in a pharmacy that does a lot of medications for immunocompromised patients or patients on immunosuppressants. We have trial size bottles of hand sanitizer that we are refusing to sell to anyone -- instead, we are giving them, completely free, to our highest risk patients so that they can stay safe. Take a note, dude, give it to the people who need it the most.
Lu (Brooklyn)
@ThetaSigma Thank you for your service.
Niki Patton (West Tisbury, MA)
Private Equity has been doing its own version of this since the recession. So any company that's buyable and might provide a relatively reliable stream of income with less risk and higher returns becomes prey. Prices are jacked up if they can gain a relative monopoly or the product quality is degraded while the price remains steady in the name of higher margins. This is just a 'higher class' version of what Mr. Colvin is doing -- just that you never know these guys names and it's perfectly legal, perfectly legal. The other irony is that Mr. Bezos squeezes every penny he can out of every vendor. To the tune of $106 billion. And no problem there. We only hold up Mr. Colvin as a bad apple because he's not smart enough on how he (ab)uses the system.
Anthony Holland (London)
The actions of this guy seem terrible, but let's think about price signals. By buying massively and early he and others like him sent a signal through the order books of all these stores that more (sanitizer, masks etc.) were needed and valued. That demand signal reaches the producers and accelerates and brings forward the production of more sanitizer etc. for the market as a whole even at higher production costs.
Lam (NYC)
These price gougers are no difference from China's Red Cross, which prioritizes the inventories of hospitals that treat party elites over hospitals for the common people. Some of the mask donations even get resold overseas. An epidemic is the true test of human conscience. I can't believe I have spent two days searching and searching and finally realize that the shortage of supplies isn't entires because of our dependence on outsourcing.
Susan in NH (NH)
If he wants to redeem himself in they eyes of the public, he and his brother need to donate all those items necessary for health and safety of his fellow American citizens to a public health facility ASAP. Paramedics like my daughter should not be working without masks because the company she works for can't get enough for all the First Responders that work there!
Nick (Chicago)
Amazon, Ebay et. al. should tell their systems to keep prices stable on related supplies without blocking sales completely. It won't be perfect but better than nothing at all. As for the Colvin brothers, they should quickly and safely drive back to the communities they plundered and donate the supplies. Now.
Dennis (DC)
I think it’s important to situate his actions first outside of a crisis. The article says “Mr. Colvin said he was simply fixing ‘inefficiencies in the marketplace.’ Some areas of the country need these products more than others, and he’s helping send the supply toward the demand.” There are virtually no inefficiencies in the marketplace to distribute Nikes. Stripping shelves bare so goods that were available no longer are does not increase efficiency. His role I often to create false scarcity, so as to profit from it. That is not fixing inefficiencies, it is inserting them. So, add subterfuge (and/or wishful self-delusion) to his list of misdeeds.
Pat (Alaska)
What is the legality around bulk resale of items without a business license? Especially crossing state lines. It seems shady to me...
Jen B (Omaha, NE)
This is why health care should be public service, regulated like a utility eliminate the profit motive. This includes the supply chain for all health related supplies. - These supplies are in a storage unit - not a temperature controlled warehouse/location. in addition, if the tips of the bottle touched anything or bottles have been opened/altered in any way - There is no guarantee it is safe to use these supplies in a critical situation. This is the same of any health supplies purchased from third party sellers. This guy's behavior is typical of someone who is very scared and insecure - more and more common in the USA - He needs a secure job to take care of his family and a living wage. Less and less common for people who do not have very advanced skills.
PCB (Brooklyn)
How is this any different from war profiteering? Except these are items needed particularly by frontline health providers, and the vulnerable, who are older and immunocompromised. These are fellow citizens, who -like our fellow global citizens - are fighting against a non-affiliated, apolitical virus. "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"
jennifer t. schultz (Buffalo, NY)
hot water and soap are the best. not hand sanitizer especially not for babies or any children. tocopherols are in the hand sanitizer which can damage the brain development of anyone under 18 or possibly until at least 22 yrs of age. my sister and I use hot water and soap. I don't know if purell still puts it in the hand sanitizer or not
anon (USA)
@jennifer t. schultz and what if you don’t have access to soap and water at a particular moment?
James (New York)
Generally I’m opposed to anti-gouging laws, but I feel that these guys “stole” the needed material from their neighbors to sell online.No sympathy for them. Some jail time should help prevent this in the future.
I’m In (The Middle)
Jail time refers to a penalty. So the penalty for what, price gouging. You contradict yourself.
Tommus (New York)
If he had listed these products on an Ebay auction and let the bidders run up the price, would his actions be any more ethical?
Sarah (Chicago)
Really people? Let him donate it and get a tax write off? No. Seize it and charge him with whatever misdemeanor best fits. Return the product to whatever shelves it came from. Make sure the stores don’t allow multiple purchases. It’s unfortunate the big guys get away with any number of crimes, but that doesn’t mean the little guys get a pass. We do know right from wrong.
James Wallis Martin (Christchurch, New Zealand)
I don't approve of this kind of action but wonder how different is it from the US Government not willing to pay to use the German test kits especially after the US made ones were determined to be faulty. So the need to line their pockets over the need to save lives seems to be the same in both cases. Ethics is the first luxury thrown out when a crisis rears its head in a capitalistic society. Thankfully I live in a socialist democracy for that very reason. A country that regularly ranks as the least corrupt in the world.
gb (Oregon)
Not even 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer can remove the stain on the Colvin brothers’ reputation.
See also