Manhattan hardware store fined for price gouging coronavirus necessities

The store sold $10-bottles of Purell for $80 and a pack of masks valued at under $23 for $60.

Fans use hand sanitizer as they enter Staples Center in California amid the coronavirus outbreak (photo credit: JAYNE KAMIN-ONCEA-USA TODAY SPORTS/REUTERS)
Fans use hand sanitizer as they enter Staples Center in California amid the coronavirus outbreak
(photo credit: JAYNE KAMIN-ONCEA-USA TODAY SPORTS/REUTERS)
A hardware store in Manhattan's Garden District was hit with a fine for drastically raising prices of coronavirus products, The New York Post reported.
The Scheman & Grant Hardware at Eighth Avenue and 38th Street, a franchisee of Ace Hardware, has been charging around $80 for 1200-mililiter (40.57 oz) bottles of Purell hand sanitizer.
For context, Ace Hardware markets the same product online at just under $10.
The store also sold packs of 10 respirator masks at the price of $60. Online competitor Home Depot, meanwhile, marketed the same product at $22.97.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took to Twitter to slam the hardware store for what he saw as price gouging.
“We have ZERO tolerance for anyone taking advantage of an epidemic to gouge prices,” he tweeted. “Violations have already been issued to businesses and there will be consequences if this continues.”
The state of New York recently declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak.
At a coronavirus-update press conference in Albany on Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that New York State Police will investigate all price gouging reports going forward, and revoking licenses when warranted.
“I want businesses to be aware that you could lose your license for price gouging. This is serious. It’s not just price gouging, it’s price gouging in an emergency situation where you are being exploitive of the public,” Cuomo said at a press conference.
“Not only is it disrespectful, it’s also illegal, and you will be caught,” the governor said, adding that a special toll-free hotline (1-800-697-1220) was established for any suspected price-gouging cases.
A similar event happened in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in China, where a drugstore in Beijing was fined 3 million yuan ($434,530) for hiking the price of masks by almost six times the online rate.
Nonetheless, the general manager at Scheman & Grant Hardware remains defiant, insisting that the shop is not gouging prices, and will not lower them.
Reuters contributed to this report.


Tags Manhattan