One Virus-Related Shortage That Has Been Restocked

The New York Times reports that, weeks ago, some self-styled American “entrepreneurs,” in a practice called “retail arbitrage,” drove around the country buying up all the hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes they could find because they realized there would soon be high demand for these products due to the impending coronavirus outbreak.

What were these clever dealers planning? Why, to sell these goods on Amazon, Ebay, and other platforms, of course, often at jacked-up prices meant to gouge consumers who were willing to pay the price.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Crazy Claus, and he just came down the chimney. Ask anyone who has been to a grocery store in recent days. You go to buy not only hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes, but toilet paper, water, flour, sugar, vitamins, cold medicine, rubbing alcohol, thermometers, peanut butter, liquor (!), etc., and all you find are shiny shelves.

Was it just last month that we were all joyful and that our lives seemed so normal? Yet here we are—in another place entirely—trying to find our ways again, yearning to summit our challenges, looking high and low for guidance from our lost sherpas of happiness.

Which reminds me. My editor informed me that there has been some “retail arbitrage” going on with poetry books—another high-demand item when people are in their cabins practicing antisocial distancing. “Lots of poetry titles,” she said, “not least of which is your last, Lost Sherpa of Happiness.”

Seems it went out of stock at Amazon when no one was looking. Seems some independent sellers were offering it at marked-up prices (sans Purell).

Scoundrels were barnstorming the brick and mortars, too, raiding Barnes & Nobles and independent bookstores. Savvy sorts realizing in advance that home-bound folks, hiding from the virus, would be seeking its happy succor in nostalgic fits of literary desire.

Well, good news at last. Working in concert with my publisher, we have ordered another printing run and won ironclad assurances from the Amazons-that-be that this collection of poems will not be sold above its retail price, despite the run on supplies, despite any laws of supply and demand, and despite the conspicuous lack of a surprise inside (I may be many things, but Cracker Jack isn’t one of them).

That’s right. No one but no one will be gouged on my watch. And the supply should hold through the rest of March at the very least (he says with fingers crossed).

So, please. If you are still suffering from the sting of other shortages and are feeling a bit blue, know that I have stayed one step ahead of the buyers, gougers, and retail arbitragers for you.

No sell-outs! No virtual shiny shelves! Just poetry books aplenty, free from panic and where you most need them, one click east of cart.

Thank you, and God bless America.


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