Two Tennessee brothers are catching a lot of flack for hoarding supplies of hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and face masks during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, their supplies are being donated to a local church.
The New York Times reports that Matt and Noah Colvin bought all the hand sanitizer and wipes they could find in Tennessee and Kentucky after the first person died from coronavirus in the U.S. on March 1. The brothers’ goal was to resell the items at a profit as people began to panic about the spread of COVID-19. They drove across the two states and wiped out supplies from small shops, dollar stores, Walmart, Staples, and Home Depot. They then listed the products on Amazon at a “substantial” markup.
“It was crazy money,” Matt Colvin told the Times, divulging that he priced his first 300 bottles of hand sanitizer between $8 to $70 each and they sold out immediately. He also sold 2,000 50-packs of face masks on eBay, at $40 to $50, and sometimes even more.
When Amazon learned of the price gouging, the company removed his items and thousands of other listings for hand sanitizers, face masks, and wipes. eBay followed a similar practice, but went even further and prohibited all U.S. sales of the aforementioned items on its site. The Colvin brothers ended up with a stockpile of 17,700 bottles of sanitizer and nowhere to sell them, even as the U.S. has been experiencing a shortage, Americans have become desperate, and hospitals have been in dire need.
“There’s a crushing overwhelming demand in certain cities right now,” he told the Times. “The Dollar General in the middle of nowhere outside of Lexington, Kentucky, doesn’t have that.” He continued, “I honestly feel like it’s a public service,” he added. “I’m being paid for my public service.”
“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.”