One man's global pandemic is another man's side hustle.
But in the midst of mounting coronavirus chaos, the life span of a price-gouging scheme is as low as it's ever been.
Matt Colvin, a shrewd capitalist out of Hixson, Tennessee was investigated by the State Attorney General's Office after he purchased tens of thousands bottles of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to turn around and sell on Amazon, WRCB Chattanooga reports.
Colvin's scheme was going well until Amazon cracked down on price gouging offenders.
Hixson man has nearly 18000 bottles of sanitizer he can't sell youtu.be
Colvin told WRCB that he moved swiftly to buy up as many bottles as possible after he heard the news about the very first coronavirus death in the U.S, on February 29, 2020.
According to Colvin, amassing the inventory was hardly the work of a master mind.
"The bulk of it was purchased by just driving around to retail stores in the Chattanooga area."
After Colvin gathered a stockpile so big he had to split the supply between his home and a storage unit, he made moves to sell the bottles on Amazon, initiating phase two of the price-gouging plot.
Despite a New York Times report that noted those bottles were listed at up to $70 a piece, Colvin was cagier with WRCB.
"The pricing on Amazon was definitely higher than retail."
But just a day after listing the sanitizer on Amazon, the online retail giant pulled the listings, along with many other similarly gouged items in the wake of coronavirus fears ramping up.
Colvin was left with a massive stockpile of hygienic goods that he couldn't sell.
"With business there's wins and there's losses, and this a situation where cutting my losses is the right thing to do."
But the saga does not end there.
After several other reports surfaced about Colvin's dust-collecting public health stash, the Tennessee State Attorney General's Office swooped in and demanded he donate the goods, according to The Huffington Post. The AG office released a statement confirming that most of the goods were donated to a church that plans to disseminate the goods.
Part of the stash was also sent back to the state of Kentucky, so its citizens would also gain access to the needed supplies.
A Tennessee price-gouging statute does exist, which makes schemes such as this illegal. An investigation is currently underway to determine if hand-sanitizer is a product listed under that statute, thus exposing Colvin to possible criminal penalties.
Twitter, evidently, has no patience for schemes like this.
@jacknicas https://t.co/cakDaCbHg2— James Mirtle (@James Mirtle) 1584267424.0
@jacknicas I'd rather get the virus then buy anything from this chump.— ☩ John Fallon ☩ (@☩ John Fallon ☩) 1584366924.0
@jacknicas I along with many others are trying to keep ourselves and others from getting sick. I can't find hand sa… https://t.co/eIbmrqUULH— Barbara 🌊🌊🌊 (@Barbara 🌊🌊🌊) 1584226572.0
@HunterHoagland @WRCB There is huge difference between capitalism and greed. There is also human decency as the sh… https://t.co/HMXxV4ln3Q— Dan Kearney (@Dan Kearney) 1584245727.0
@HunterHoagland @WRCB Another L for cargo shorts.— davidf (@davidf) 1584213425.0
With so many contemporary purchases made online, Colvin's debacle offers a rare look at the man behind the mask.
For better or worse, we'll now all be forced to picture cargo shorts and absurdly long pauses between sentences when we consider the strings being pulled behind the sales.