I’ve heard from friends at two different companies in the past week that are getting pandemic supplies for their staff. There are large, national business supply companies out there who have started reaching out to other businesses, offering to be their supplier for pandemic items like gloves, masks, sanitizer, etc., in addition to the usual office supplies.
I just want anyone reading this to know, you are very likely getting severely price-gouged right now if you are ordering from that kind of company. I do not have a solution for it, or advice on how to avoid it (I mean, if you didn’t buy what you needed in January, what choice do you have now?), but my thought is, more information can’t hurt, when you’re shopping for a few hundred of these items at a time, and contemplating spending thousands to do it.
I bought each of these items in the last week of January and the first week of February 2020, and here’s what I paid. I bought online, and in person at retail stores or big box membership stores.
Disposable, earloop surgical masks aka “doctor’s masks” were 3 cents each. Price rose to 9 cents each in Feb. Plenty of companies now charging over one dollar each now. A box of 150 masks was worth $5. This week I saw an ad for 100 masks for $133.
Disposable, paper N95s with elastic straps – the price depended on quantity, but I paid $1.33 up to $2.50 per mask. You could find some for $7.50 for a 2-pack ($3.75 each) but for the same brand and style, I also found a 15-pack for about $20. There are companies now that will gladly take your order for $10 per mask.
Hand Sanitizer was $4 per half-gallon at bulk goods stores in January. If you bought smaller containers, you might pay $1 to $2 for a cup-holder sized bottle, or $1 for a mini bottle that could fit in the palm of your hand (for travel, or school, etc.). I saw an ad this week for hand sanitizer for $100 a gallon.
Nitrile gloves Blue or clear, a box of 100 gloves cost me $5 to $10 depending on the store.
By the way, I’m not a hoarder or reseller. I bought just enough for my large household to use, in case one of us ended up getting sick, or in case we ended up needing to wear masks to go to the grocery store (both of which happened).