Ah, Justice…

Sometimes, there is justice, after all.

Take this recent story about a guy who decided to make money off the pandemic.

He and a bunch of cronies made multiple trips to Drakes Supermarket in Adelaide, Australia and bought mass quantities of toilet paper and hand sanitizers.

His plan was to sell the stuff on eBay and gouge people like you and me and everyone who’s gone looking to buy those items and…

empty

This guy, who so far is nameless, figured he’d make lots of money off desperate people.

And it may have started that way.

But then eBay shut Nameless Gouger down.

And the Drakes Supermarket director, John-Paul Drake, shut him down, too.

According to this article and numerous others…

Newsweek (2)

Nameless Gouger returned to Drakes to get a refund on 150 packets of 32-pack toilet paper and 150 units of one-liter hand sanitizer.

That’s 4,800 rolls of toilet paper and about 40 gallons of hand sanitizer.

About $10,000 Australian dollars worth of toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

John-Paul Drake’s response:

“I told him that,” Drake said later in a YouTube video, emphatically extending his middle finger (which YouTube chose to pixilate):

John

Leaving Nameless Gouger with $10,000 worth of products instead of $10,000 in his pocket.

I call that…

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This story happened in Australia but make no mistake, it’s happening here, too.

So said many media outlets in mid-March – here’s my favorite headline:

Headline (2)

According to The New York Times,

“On March 1, the day after the first coronavirus death in the United States was announced, brothers Matt and Noah Colvin set out in a silver SUV to pick up some hand sanitizer.  Driving around Chattanooga, TN, they hit a Dollar Tree, then a Walmart, a Staples and a Home Depot.  At each store, they cleaned out the shelves.

“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.”

Matt Colvin

The nimble brothers continued scooping up hand sanitizer, eventually amassing more than 17,000 bottles, and began selling them on Amazon:

“Mr. Colvin said he had posted 300 bottles of hand sanitizer and immediately sold them all for between $8 and $70 each.”

Amazon shut down the Colvin enterprise, said the Times article, leaving them with lots of product and nowhere to sell it.

I call that…

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Reading about Nameless Gouger, the Colvins and others like them gave me the opportunity to learn a new phrase:

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Here’s the definition of retail arbitrage, or “RA,” as some call it:

“Retail arbitrage is a simple concept.  A retail store (such as Walmart, Target, etc.) sells a product (either online or in-store) for a certain price.  You purchase that product and sell it for a higher price yourself and pocket the profit.”

And, said another source,

“The practice is perfectly legal.  According to the US Supreme Court, a retailer cannot stop someone from reselling their products if the merchandise has been legally acquired.”

Retail arbitragers have always been with us, and always will be.  And I suppose there’s nothing wrong with buying an item, marking it up a few dollars, and reselling it.

70 croppedBut the Colvins were charging up to $70 on Amazon for a bottle of hand sanitizer – and selling it to someone desperate to protect their family from COVID-19.

And one of the Colvins suggested, according to the Times, that he was actually performing a “public service.”

To the Colvins and the Nameless Gouger and all the others who hoarded, and are now stuck with their hoard instead of wads of cash…

I call that…

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