Amid the coronavirus pandemic, various items like cleaning supplies, face masks and hand sanitizer have become have become hot commodities among people around the globe, especially in the United States. Families across the board are doing what they can to prevent from contracting COVID-19, which includes making the most of their trips to the store. However, two Tennessee brothers stocked up on 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer while everyone was trying to buy for themselves, attempting to resell everything before they were caught. After the first coronavirus death in the United States, the Chattanooga brothers set out to buy in bulk in hopes of making a profit. They ended up becoming the center of a New York Times profile and the face of hoarding goods during the outbreak.
Matt and Noah Colvin set out for stores like Dollar Tree, Home Depot, Walmart and Staples near their homes to gather the goods and collect as much as possible. In their journey to find as many necessary goods as they could, Noah Colvin embarked on a 1,300-mile road trip to tackle both Tennessee and Kentucky, while Matt stayed behind to get prepared for the surge in items. He admitted to selling 300 bottles of hand sanitizer for anywhere between $8 to $70. However, less than 24 hours after he posted the goods on Amazon, the online retailer pulled it down.
"It's been a huge amount of whiplash," Matt said to the New York Times, "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?'" However, their choice to stockpile on essential items came with more than just a financial burden, it also came with a legal one. On March 14, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III announced that he would be launching a price-gouging investigation into the Colvins based on what they had admitted to. Following that, the attorney general's office announced in a press release that the brothers had surrendered all of their supplies to a nonprofit in Tennessee with plans on doing so in Kentucky as well. "Disrupting necessary supplies during an unprecedented pandemic is a serious offense. It became clear during our investigation that the Colvins realized this, and their prompt cooperation and donation led to an outcome that actually benefited some consumers." Because of this, they were able to avoid a fine.
In the Times article, Matt claimed that while he wanted to make a profit, he didn't want to become the guy that made the news for being someone who had a lot of hand sanitizer selling it for "20 times" what it cost him. "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."