Hand Sanitizer Hoarder Bros Pretty Much Forced To Donate 17,000 Bottles
The thing about worldwide emergencies is that they really give people a chance to show who they are. In the case of Matt and Noah Colvin, the coronavirus pandemic gave them a chance to let their inner douchebags really shine.
You see, the moment the United States announced the first death from coronavirus, the Colvin brothers went out and cleared every store in their area out of hand sanitizer, masks and other pandemic-ccessories. Then, Noah Colvin went out on the road to clear out even more stores while Matt Colvin set up their Amazon store, visions of price gouging dancing in his head.
The two Tennessee brothers became the villains of the internet this past weekend following a New York Times story about how they'd found themselves stuck with 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and myriad other necessary supplies after Amazon banned them and other scammers from selling them for ridiculously high prices.
Not only did these two brothers somehow think it was a good idea to be interviewed for this story, but Matt Colvin had the actual gall to pose for the article in front of his thousands of hand sanitizers wearing a shirt reading "Family Man Family Business" and to then whine, in the article, about how Amazon ruined his plans to provide a nice nest egg for his family by taking advantage of a country in crisis.
"It's been a huge amount of whiplash," he said. "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?'"
Awww! And the poor baby also tried to claim that, actually, he was really doing everyone a public service.
"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."
Unfortunately for the Colvin Bros, Tennessee's Attorney General, Herbert H. Slatery III, did not feel as though they were performing a valuable public service and demanded they not sell any more supplies at all, to anyone.
"We will not tolerate price gouging in this time of exceptional need, and we will take aggressive action to stop it," he said. Tennessee law prohibits price gouging on necessities like gas and medical supplies once a state emergency has been declared by the governor, and allows for a fine of up to $1,000 per violation.
With pretty much nothing left to gain from holding on to the supply — especially since he's been permanently banned from selling on Amazon and eBay — and facing a barrage of criticism, the Colvins gave in and "decided" to just donate. With the assistance of the Tennessee Attorney General's office.
On Sunday morning, Matt Colvin, an Amazon seller outside Chattanooga, Tenn., helped volunteers from a local church load two-thirds of his stockpile of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes into a box truck for the church to distribute to people in need across Tennessee.
Officials from the Tennessee attorney general's office on Sunday took the other third, which they plan to give to their counterparts in Kentucky for distribution. (Mr. Colvin and his brother Noah bought some of the supplies in Kentucky this month.)
Matt Colvin says he was very shocked by the blowback, and that people would think he was the kind off person who would keep people from being able to buy necessary medical supplies, just because he kept people from being able to buy necessary medical supplies.
He said the outpouring of hate has been scary for him and his family. He said people have incessantly called his cellphone, posted his address online and sent pizzas to his home. His inbox was flooded with ugly messages, he said. One email he shared with The Times said: "Your behavior is probably going to end up with someone killing you and your wife and your children."
"It was never my intention to keep necessary medical supplies out of the hands of people who needed them," he said, crying. "That's not who I am as a person. And all I've been told for the last 48 hours is how much of that person I am."
Yeah, he's definitely that person. But just so we're clear, it's not okay to threaten people for being jerks and it is definitely not okay to send unsolicited pizzas to their house. That, for the record, is also a really shitty thing to do, especially during a pandemic. It is, in fact, a far shittier thing to do to the pizza delivery people than to the person you are sending a prank pizza to, because probably the price gouging jerks are not going to tip those people and you just made them waste gas and time for nothing. Not cool!
This is a time when we all have to think of each other instead of feeding our own worst instincts. Be the nice Italian people singing to each other from balconies and not the gross price gouging bros or the equally inconsiderate people sending the price gouging bros unsolicited pizzas.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse