The Craigslist Covid testing market was good (for the gougers) for its duration

Photo: Yaroslav Sabitov/Shutterstock

Last December, Tim pulled off the impossible: He found two packs of QuickVue rapid COVID-19 tests at a family pharmacy in Bushwick — for $60 each. He bought them both, and after testing himself (negative), he turned into a pinball machine, obsessively scanning his neighborhood drugstores for tests, buying four or five each time they came up. were restocking and selling them for a $10 markup on Craigslist and eBay.

At the time, the underground market for COVID testing was booming: The guys at Weed were offering testing; the children resold those distributed by the schools; pharmacy chain staffers also resold theirs. Upon learning that the Department of Education would provide staff and students with testing after exposure, a New York City public high school secretary said her doctor told her she “could just sell the extras,” which she quickly did. Online, sellers range from Little Leaguers to wholesalers who sell full cases, usually for over $1,000. But between falling cases and the promise of four free tests for every American (who does not live in a multifamily dwellingthat is), the resale market collapsed.

There are “definitely more sellers than buyers,” according to J, who sells tests on Craigslist. As a result, the market is not only in disarray, but has also become more competitive. An anonymous wholesaler on a case-by-case basis said he was buying tests “by truckloads”, but when I spoke to him earlier this week he told me business was slower than usual and that he still had 600 left to sell. On Thursday, another seller said my interview request was the first response he received to an ad he posted more than a week ago.

There are still buyers. Tyrin, a 24-year-old waiter, said his boss won’t pay to have him tested every week, and because he’s uninsured he can’t be reimbursed for any rapid tests he buys. At this rate, he said he would “definitely be more willing to buy from a friend.”

Recently, Tim has had trouble with listings being removed, despite the fact that they aren’t actively violating Craigslist’s terms of service — at least, neither are the other test sellers on the site. He told me he suspected other sellers had flagged his posts, targeting him because of his relatively low margins. To date, he has only sold six tests, for a profit of $70.

It’s not out of the game yet. Instead, Tim now offers delivery.

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