Toy Store Owner On the Ropes Over Price-Gouging Fine: ‘I’d Never Gouge the Upper West Side’

Donna Schofield has run her store since 1986. Photograph by Joy Bergmann.

By Carol Tannenhauser

Stationery & Toy World has made it through some enormous challenges over the years, but its latest might be the most difficult. A price-gouging charge from the city has left the store in a precarious financial position, and the owner is asking for help navigating a bureaucracy she says misunderstood her actions.

Donna Schofield, who owns Stationery and Toy World on 72nd Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, prides herself on having everything her customers want. One was quoted in Manhattan Sideways as saying, “It does not matter what I am looking for, I always stop by Stationery and Toys first, certain that I will find what I need.” During the lockdown, the store was officially deemed “essential.”

“It was because of my office supplies,” Donna said, in a recent phone interview, “People were working at home. A lot of other stores had to close and I didn’t, so I really feel fortunate. I think if I had to close that would have been the breaking point.”

The store is 33 years old.

Instead, Donna pivoted. “I brought in, you know, toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizers, wipes, Lysol, all that stuff. I never sold it before. I was trying to do the neighborhood a service and make some money to pay my overhead. That was right in the middle of the lockdown and there was no hand sanitizer locally to be had. I bought some in California and had it shipped. I paid $9.00 a bottle and sold it for $12.99.

“What happened was, in May, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (now called the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection) came in and fined us for price gouging,” Donna said. “I sent them a letter explaining how much I had paid for the sanitizer.” But that wasn’t the problem. On March 16, 2020, the city had capped price increases on “any personal or household good or any service that is needed to prevent or limit the spread of or treat the new coronavirus (COVID-19),” it said in a press release. Donna had raised her prices by more than 40%.

“First of all, there was no way I even knew about the 10%!” she protested. “50% is a normal markup for this neighborhood. Second, I’d never gouge the Upper West Side!”

Thomas Drugs, on Columbus Avenue, between 67th and 68th Streets, was also fined for price gouging, in April, 2020. At that time, WSR interviewed the manager, who echoed Donna’s words. “They are not understanding,” he said. “Our primary wholesalers are completely out of stock of every single thing, so we have to go to the secondary wholesalers who are more expensive. Now, if you are buying something from the wholesaler, it’s $10 instead of $5. You have to do it. It’s a matter of getting things for the neighborhood. People are desperate. If I’m selling at a 30%-40% markup, that’s routine, that’s UWS prices.”

Donna posted the denial in her window out of desperation.

It didn’t matter; after more than a year of fighting it, a judge decided last week to deny Donna’s appeal of the charges. “Not only that, but he ended up fining me full blown,” she said. “$12,475.00 — $350.00 for every bottle I had.”

“I’m in the hole for a hundred thousand dollars,” she said, her voice quavering. “That’s how bad it is. I keep saying to myself, It’s going to turn around, you know? I bought all back-to-school stuff, because everyone felt that these kids would go back to school. Now, on Staten Island where I live, there’s such an uptick….”

We are awaiting a response from the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.

Thanks to Lese Dunton, who alerted us to this story.

Correction: Donna charged $12.99 for the hand sanitizer, not $13.99 as we originally quoted.

Update: A “Go Fund Me’ page has been set up for Donna and her store. Here’s the link:
https://www.gofundme.com/f/small-mom-and-pop-needs-your-help-in-new-york

 

NEWS | 115 comments | permalink
    1. Gilligan says:

      Outrageous! Anyone who could get Lysol a year ago and charged a reasonable markup shouldn’t be targeted like this. Plus, the truth is that price gouging is a silly concept. If you don’t want the Lysol at $13.99, don’t buy it.

      I found a can of Lysol last May at a hardware store on Broadyway in the 100s, and I was thrilled to pay what it cost (I think also about $14 or $15).

      And finally, we’re lucky to have this store in the neighborhood. I would think our beloved elected officials would like to step up and help UWS small businesses, but of course they won’t unless they can somehow finagle some big donations.

      • Jay says:

        Lysol sold at $14 a bottle, when it’s regularly something like $5 (I don’t buy it) is price gouging, BUT ONLY if the WHOLESALE PRICE hasn’t massively increased.

        The store owner has records proving the massive wholesale price increase. If that’s the entire story behind the fine, then the fine should be dropped completely.

      • Truth and Reason says:

        It’s easy to say “don’t buy it” NOW that we know more about the disease but try to remember last March. Try to remember when our loved ones were being placed in freezer trucks and our wealthy neighbors were bailing on us and friends were telling friends not to open their windows because they didn’t want them to also die. Now imagine being laid off during that, losing all the income you had. Somebody wants to charge you the last dollar you have, you’ll pay it to stay alive. But if you don’t like the price, “don’t buy it”? As if we had a choice??

        I’m sorry but people who participated in making any disease fighting supplies unaffordable for us “peasants” who didn’t run away to Connecticut deserves to pay every fine.

        • Gilligan says:

          You’re being silly. Of course you had a choice whether to buy Lysol. There was never a single credible source that said Lysol was a necessity and that you would die or be harmed without it. The CDC didn’t recommend it. Cuomo didn’t mandate it. Fauci never mentioned it. Lysol is not life-saving medication. Of course you had a choice whether to buy it at $14. And yet you want this terrific small business to track down Lysol from her supplier, buy it at $9 and sell it to you for $5?? This store is a private enterprise and they have no responsibility to subsidize your purchases. Why don’t you start your own business and operate that way?

          • Truth and Reason says:

            Because I’ve owned two businesses already, Mr Incorrect Assumptions, which means I know exactly how social enterprise can work and that there’s a difference between social enterprise and flat out for profit. At the beginning of my original post, I asked you to remember what things were like in early March. If you’ll recall, this was before the CDC or Trump said ANYTHING. And if you read the back of a Lysol can, you’ll see it quite clearly says it kills coronaviruses. People were spraying every surface they had with the stuff. Without proper guidance from both of the sources you named, we were doing everything we could to stay alive. Weren’t you?

            • Upper west side resident says:

              I’ve been here straight through the pandemic and remember perfectly well what it was like, and OF course you didn’t have to pay $12.99 for Lysol if you didn’t want to do so. FFS. And I was grateful to local businesses who manages to source hard-to-find stuff.

              I like this store and I’m going to be really pissed off if these fines put it out of business.

            • World Peacenik says:

              FFS?

      • ben says:

        Anti-price gouging is not meant to protect those who can afford but don’t want to pay 14 bucks for Lysol. It’s for those who need but can’t afford it at this ridiculous price, as Lysol was and is essential in fighting the pandemic.

        • Josh says:

          It was much cheaper to buy a gallon of bleach, dilute it in another bottle, and then wipe surfaces down with the bleach. Killed the virus faster and of that gallon of bleach I bought for five bucks in March of 2020, I’m still using it. I agree with enforcing price gouging regulations, but I cant consider Lysol to be essential.

    2. Barzellai Lew says:

      This is insane. Does anyone have any ideas for how we can lobby to get this overturned?

      • soldier says:

        This is pure extortion: our “enlightened” elected officials do everything in their power to hurt small businesses. This is awful.

    3. ajiv says:

      i would also like to help if there is any way to do so. i bought kn95s there and they definitely did not price gouge. fantastic shop

    4. Tom Lowry says:

      Like every other chain store on the UWS hasn’t been jamming us for years on prices. Gimme a break and give this small business a break. It’s this kind of city mumbo jumbo and the greedy landlords that have hollowed out storefronts on the Upper West Side.

      • Otis says:

        Stop it with the “greedy landlord” nonsense.

        Landlords have their own expenses – ie exorbitant property taxes – and the space belongs to them.

        They are entitled to charge whatever they want for their space. If it remains empty that’s their business decision – and no, no landlord magically comes out financially ahead by keeping their space empty.

    5. Helen? Gale? says:

      We’re waiting.

      Helen? Gale? Bueller? … Bueller …?

    6. Bob Lamm says:

      If someone begins a Go Fund Me page to help this terrific store, I will donate.

      • ajiv says:

        same here! i am also more than happy to call / fill out paperwork or anything else that would be of service.

        WSR — thank you for your service in alerting us to the story as well as the outreach to the govt agency

      • Ali Lesch says:

        Ditto

    7. Frank Grimes says:

      Ahh yes….the same government that spent $350/per night to house homeless in hotels, when there were hotels freely offered at $100/night everywhere in NYC. The same government that gave Thrive NYC $2Billion w/ no accountability whatsoever….these are the people telling us what accounts for “gouging”. Such fine stewards of our finances they are.

      • Karen Bruno says:

        Yep, it’s almost like they are trying to put small businesses out of business! Oh wait, maybe that’s the plan all along!

    8. lynn says:

      It’s so distressing to find out that Donna has been fighting this battle for over a year. I remember walking to S&T during the height of Covid and it was desolate out there. Yet she still made the trip into work and provided everyone in the neighborhood with the goods they needed. Surely there must be someone in the area who can help with this. Please keep us updated!

    9. Carlos says:

      What a gigantic waste of resources. Doesn’t the government have bigger problems to worry about? Or go after her supplier who raised its prices? The entire supply chain was broken so prices were bound to go up for some items.

      How about the price gouging by the owners of the UWS hotels that housed the homeless?

    10. Otis says:

      This is absolute garbage. The city should not be micromanaging prices small businesses are charging their customers. This is bureaucratic overreach at its worst.

    11. Robyn says:

      If she was truly trying to fulfill a service she wouldn’t have marked up the items over 50% from what SHE PAID. Yes, I get that the suppliers had jacked up the prices. But then, she turned around and jacked them up even higher. That’s not a service, that’s a profit!

      • EdNY says:

        Actually, it’s primarily overhead. If she brings in an item and pays $9.00, and sells it for $9.00, she loses money. She’s entitled to make her overhead, which is probably the bulk of her markup. Whether or not she is was justified in making a profit on the items is another story.

        • Josh says:

          Of course she would lose money if she charged cost. But the issue is the fact that she is using a percentage markup. If she bought the can for $2 and marked it up 40%, she would be selling it for $2.80, gaining 80 cents per can. Let’s say her overhead costs took 60 cents of that, so 20 cents would be pure profit. Now she buys the same can for $9, and marks it up 40%. She is now selling the can for $13. 60 cents from that can goes to overhead, just like before. Let’s even say her overhead costs increased because of the pandemic and give her 150% of the original overhead. So her overhead costs are 90 cents per can. But her profit, instead of 20 cents per can is now $3.10, meaning her profit jumped 1,550%. So this is, by definition, price gouging. Yes, her suppliers raised the price, but she inflated the price that much higher by marking it up by percentage rather than what she needed to pay overhead and make a profit. If the suppliers raised the price by $4, she should just raise the price of the can $4 and that would not be price gouging.

          • Huh says:

            Retail markup is almost always a percentage rather than a set amount. For one thing the more money you have to lay outin advance,the less you earn (potentially) in bank interest and the more you put at risk in case you don’t sell all items. What’s a debate seems to be the percentage that is reasonable or legal.
            By the way, do you tip a set amount at restaurants or do you tip a percentage? That actually makes less sense since there’s no more work involved in serving a steak than in serving pasta.

          • MeInWhySee says:

            Josh, I think you’re the only commenter who seems to understand the concept of gouging & why this store owner might have been fined.

            The issue is not that she raised the price in order to cover the increased supplier cost & (potentially) increased overhead cost; it’s that the raised price ALSO included a raised profit (because the mark-up was calculated as a percentage of the item’s wholesale cost).

            To avoid this fine, the item’s increased price would have needed to = cost to get the item in the store + margin for overhead + PRE-COVID PROFIT MARGIN. It’s that the store’s profit per item increased manyfold (as a function of marking up a straight percentage per item) that constituted price gouging. If the store could prove they didn’t make additional profit on the product, the case would be easily resolvable.

            In fairness, it’s easy to imagine that the city, in instituting the cap, failed to provide any actionable guidance to businesses about how to avoid unwittingly pricing in a way that could be deemed gouging, since so many businesses apply a standard mark-up to every item they sell.

            This business might consider investigating the specifics of what the city communicated about implementing the cap—if profit as a percentage of mark-up on cost in relation to jacked-up wholesale cost (due to low supply/high demand) vs. typical cost wasn’t specifically addressed, that might perhaps be an avenue worth exploring further…

      • UWSSR says:

        You’d run an ice cream stand into the ground in about 45 minutes if that’s all you understand about retail.

      • blacklikeu says:

        Robyn,
        Calm down, relax and think – think again.
        You buy a pair of shoes. You pay $100.
        The store paid maybe $50.
        That’s a 50% mark up.
        Standard procedure business. Done this way since the first store opened in Babel, 5,000 years ago.
        So please, keep your (hidden) anger in check.
        This lady deserves our thanks, not our scolding.
        Relax, please.

        • Boris says:

          That’s a 100% markup

          • babrarus says:

            Corrected, thank you.
            Some outlets work on 30, 40, 50%.
            Some work on 100%, and more.
            Such is life in any country, regardless of its economic vision.

        • LM says:

          People, she’s running a BUSINESS….she has to pay rent, real estate taxes, electricity, internet, credit card fees, payroll, insurance, inventory, taxes etc etc….EVEN A CHARITY NEEDS TO PAY OVERHEAD!

          If she can find sanitizers for $9 out west, pay for shipping to get it here, and YOU do not want to pay for that markup….then YOU GET YOUR ASS OVER AND ORDER IT YOURSELF FROM OUT WEST FOR $9.

          Do you guys have any idea what is the mark up on pharmaceutical drugs, over the counter items?? If you have a friend who works in a pharmacy….go ask and see for yourself. Ask them what the buy in price is for metformin and something simple like Tylenol…..

        • nemo paradise says:

          I used to shop in Babel, but switched when they opened the new mall in Nineveh. Better selection, nicer people and much fewer falling chunks of masonry.

    12. Okay says:

      “I’d never gouge the Upper West Side,” says the lady with the 40% markup on life saving supplies, “No more at least that is than everybody else who was doing it.”

      • Steen says:

        40% markup is literally bare bones. When I sold jewelry the markup was 700%. Shoes were 150% and appliances were 300%. What you are failing to do is price out all of her other costs: electricity, taxes, rent, water, etc.. All of those cut into the 40% markup.
        I say this as someone who does not live close to this store and therefore rarely shops there, but from my perspective, she was doing the best she could without going under.

        • Regular Customer says:

          Add wages to her employees to the list of overhead costs. The employees are knowledgeable about the store’s merchandise and eager to help customers. They’re African-American, to boot. Stationery and Toys is an exemplary small business.

    13. LivableCity says:

      Could WSR do an update if there is any progress on legal or financial paths readers can help with?? Would a community petition persuade the judge? Is it time for a goFundMe? This is such a beloved store, with such a long and positive neighborhood history, and so many people appreciate what small businesses had to go through. At least the fine should be reduced, and in a reasonable world (which is often not possible in the law of city regulations) dropped.

    14. Nelson says:

      I hope this gets the attention of one of the local TV Consumer Affairs reporters. Nonsensical and unnecessarily stressful for this wonderful, tax paying, much loved neighbor.

    15. soldier says:

      West Side Rag, please publicize – in huge letters – the address of this great store so every one goes there: I guarantee everyone will find something to buy.
      The city’s powers that be are vicious, anti-business drolls ruining everything. They literally extort small businesses – and our elected useless figurines do nothing.

      • Carter says:

        Stationary and Toy is located at 125 W 72nd, between Amsterdam & Columbus, on the north side of the block.

        It’s a great spot – just in the last few months we’ve purchased tennis balls, highlighters, kids birthday party presents (great selection of playmobil), scotch tape, packaging tape, a puzzle, stickers, and probably more…

        • Lisa says:

          They truly have everything, including helium balloons. Anything you need for a party. Art supplies! Toys galore! Sleds in the winter! Balls in the summer! And my favorite item: Trump toilet paper.

        • Regular Customer says:

          Resonably priced greeting cards

    16. Ian Alterman says:

      This is outrageous, and a perfect example of a less-than-well-functioning bureaucracy that ends up hurting the “little guy” (or gal).

      Donna has been an integral part and supporter of the UWS for decades. Superstorm Sandy destroyed her warehouse on S.I., ruining almost all of her inventory. Yet she continued serving the community faithfully every day.

      I hope the local electeds are on this, and that Donna will quickly be released from bureaucracy hell.

    17. Bill Wiliiams says:

      The entire idea of price gouging is absurd and makes no sense. Forcing the prices to remain low when there is a shortage actually causes a run on products as people hoard them which they would be less likely to do if prices were high.

    18. EC says:

      I would also contribute to a crowd sourced fundraiser.

    19. Zirconia Jim says:

      The bottom line of this story, which everyone is missing. When a major crisis arise, you can always count on your fellow man to show you that GREED is the only thing that matters in the end.

    20. Robert Teitelbaum says:

      DiBlasio may be the worst mayor ever. We new this after the first term. But he was still voted in for a second term. Cuomo was praised and lauded for a full year after unnecessarily causing between 5,000 to 15,000 nursing home deaths. Time for people to look at the candidates, and not the parties they are affiliated with when voting. It cleatly is a matter of life, death and fairness.

    21. sam seibert says:

      This is insane. Donna is good people, just like her father was, an asset to the community. Consumer Affairs needs to do more homework.

    22. Fred DuBose says:

      Let’s hope an Upper West Sider with money to spare will pay Donna’s ridiculous fine. S&T is a neighborhood treasure, and Donna and her Dad made it so with blood, sweat and tears.

    23. Zimmerman Al says:

      Sad. A very ethical shop keeper

    24. Andy says:

      This is all despicable on the part of NYC…the city that creates an endless lack of accountability to how our tax dollars are SPENT!…trying to fine a neighborhood stationary store…jesus h. chr1st!

    25. Music Man says:

      As a Democrat, I hate the Democrats in power: they are greedy they are too progressive they are anti-business.

      • Jen says:

        Thank you. Every time I mention something like that I get attacked by far-left, woke and pc-correct – “You are not a democrat!”

    26. Sarah says:

      This is peculiar. I know that the state anti-gouging regulations do in fact permit the retailer to demonstrate as a defense that a change in the wholesale price was driving an unusual retail price increase. And it looks like DCWP has a similar provision. So I wonder what’s going on.

      • World Peacenik says:

        You will not find out from the WSR. These articles are reports from the owner. The links take you to previous reports from owners.

        PR to stir the commentariat.

      • Boris says:

        I, too, think there’s more to this story.

    27. Brian says:

      I’d contribute to a GoFundMe; please create one.

      Many of us complain about the sameness of all the CVS & Duane Reade stores, but we’re driving out independent stores with all these fines & regulations.

      • Boris says:

        You don’t know anything substantial about the details of this complaint yet you seize the opportunity to bash CVS and Duane Reade simply because they’re chain stores. This kneejerk reaction to giving some businesses a pass when they do wrong is obnoxious. Just because one likes a certain store or restaurant doesn’t mean they should turn a blind eye to their skirting the law.

        There is no dispute that this store violated the anti-price gouging law in effect at the time. You can debate whether the law is reasonable but gouging did happen. I don’t buy her excuse about not knowing the law. Even if that were true, ignorance of the law is never an excuse.

        • Peter says:

          You have got to be joking. Have you read all the books in the law library? Even judges and lawyers don’t know the law which is why they pay huge account of money for specialized internet services so they can find the answers to their legal question.

    28. Christine Rising says:

      Donna did NOTHING wrong! On the contrary! She was doing her best to serve the UWS residents as she has always done for years and years. You would think that the Dept. of Consumer and Worker Protection could grasp this and understand. Apparently not. I hope they start actually thinking and turn this around. NOW….

    29. James says:

      Welcome to NYC, the last centrally planned economy outside Cuba.

    30. Frank Bigelow says:

      Outrageous. How about all the street vendors buying their produce for cash,selling their fruits and vegetables and not paying sales tax or rent. City agencies only go after legitimize businesses. The neighborhood loves small legitimate businesses like this.I’d pay triple to keep them going…..

      • Joe Han says:

        Thank you for mentioning the street vendors. It’s been a struggle for my store that’s been going on since Rudy was mayor.

    31. Joe Han says:

      The city should gice those tickets out to the landlords. High rent for the store equals higher prices. Sinple math.
      I run a store in the UWS, pay one of the highest commercial rent anywhere. The past year year and half has been hard enough, but now the City wants to do a Commercial Rent Tax audit on me. Then they wonder why we have so many empty store fronts on Broadway.

    32. Leon says:

      Just curious – how did this city agency even find out about this issue. Don’t they have better things to do than monitor the price of every item sold by a small business? Perhaps if she was selling it for $5,000 it might have triggered something but you would have to be paying really close attention to notice this.

      Or did someone rat her out?

    33. Charlie Anteby says:

      One more reason we don’t want our kids and grandkids to go into retail. It’s a bad idea. I come from retailers on my mom’s side. My Uncle Hardy had stores in the Statler Hilton Hotel. My grandfather Ralph had a linen shop on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Not the way to go these days. The landlords got too greedy and the e-commerce is too appealing to consumers. Help is impossible to find and shoplifters have more rights than store owners.

    34. Me says:

      Nearly everything in the big pharmacy chains is price gouging. (including the drugs).It’s their business model.
      Ordinary things like candy bars can be a dollar or two more expensive. Insulin, $400 a bottle without insurance.
      Since they are corporate, they can ride out any fines easily, and didn’t even have to resort to ordering and selling in-demand items at a mark-up in order to keep afloat.

      The judge knows this will probably kill her business. And the lawmakers who created this gem of a regulation knew what it would enable them to do: Target small business owners for bankruptcy so that the chain stores and corporate giants can have the pick of real estate and turn New York into a corporate “your favorite expletive” hole.

      • lynn says:

        DR and CVS didn’t ‘resort to,’ anything, much less ordering/selling paper goods and cleaning supplies during Covid. If you go back to the earlier threads you can see that readers were helping each other out by posting the names/locations of the smaller stores that were carrying much needed items. When I asked a DR manager about the lack of supplies he asked me if I’d heard about Covid. I told him that right around the corner there were trucks of supplies being unloaded at Joseph’s and the Superette and he walked away laughing. All of these places that went the extra mile, including S&T, should be applauded for what they did to help the neighborhood!

      • Boris says:

        What you describe is not price gouging. Just because something is high-priced doesn’t make it an example of gouging. It’s just too expensive for you.

        • Me says:

          Boris, my bringing in several different kinds of high prices is the clue that I’m not sticking to the literal or legal definition of price gouging. In spirit though, they are gouging us. If you walk into one of these chain pharmacy/general stores, they are filled with items that can be bought for cheaper elsewhere, often a lot cheaper. It’s as if they applied the pharmaceutical giant’s mantra “We charge what we want, because we can.” and applied it to everything in the store. As for $400 a bottle insulin, for the uninsured, now that’s price gouging. Diabetics will die without insulin, and they know it. So they charge what they want.

    35. Joanne Live Free or Die says:

      Our progressive government doesn’t favor self sufficient business owners who do what they need to do to survive. They would have preferred that she close shop and stay home and collect as much unemployment as she could for as long as she could.

      • World Peacenik says:

        Non of your comment is true. Is this a “Live Free or Die” thing?

      • Brandon says:

        This is a nonsensical comment. There is also no shame in collecting unemployment, despite your attempt to portray it as the refuge of the lazy and dependent.

    36. Hambone says:

      I bought wine from a restaurant. Given that wine has a 100% mark up and can easily command 400% in certain instances I would like the restaurant fined, shuttered and my money back.

    37. Jim Cash says:

      Please spare me. Everyone in the supply chain discussed nothing but this issue for weeks when the cap came in. Every vendor who had stock knew it doubled in value that week.

      • Boris says:

        Not only that, but according to the summons, the store was cited for 5 violations of not posting prices conspicuously and 5 violations of price gouging. It’s kind of hard to defend making a mistake by pricing 5 products incorrectly. It apparently wasn’t just about hand sanitizer flown in from California.

      • Brandon says:

        I’m not quite clear—are you saying that the store owner must have known about the pricing restrictions because they were widely discussed at the time? (Not disagreeing, just trying to clarify.)

    38. Mike72 says:

      Donna runs a great shop and offers a great selection of goods!
      An administrative judge in a very one sided setting made an example of her.
      Shame on the City of NY!
      Where is the local council member and Borough President?
      She needs help!!!

    39. LongtimeNYer says:

      If this article presents the facts accurately, the anti-price gouging law must be extremely poorly written.

      • Lynn M says:

        Donna even showed the judge proof of invoice for the price + shipping that she paid for the items….
        People, common sense, she’s not going to buy it at $9 +S/H and sell at $7-10 for the sole purpose of “serving the neighborhood”….not with all her overhead as a small business owner. Gauging should mean she bought it for pennies and sell it hundreds….like insulin or certain medications….

    40. r. brink says:

      I’ve been in the store many times over the years. This woman is the last person in the world to “gouge” anyone. Shame on the authorities for not checking more closely.

    41. S says:

      Pricing has always been ridiculous here. I looked at a toy once which was priced at $50. Other vendors were selling the same toy for $15. It’s insulting. No tears over this story at all.

      • lynn says:

        Could you be more specific about which toy it was? I’ve been shopping for toys for 30+ years and I always compare prices so I find it difficult to believe that the price for one item was ever marked up that high.

    42. The city should be ashamed of itself. This shop is a West Side Institution and has helped me over 25 years of school and work projects for myself, and then my kids. They are always helpful, provide steady good employment to their wonderful staff and are friendly and honest. Can we please find someone else to pick on?!

    43. Lise Stone says:

      What is the name of the judge who decided against Stationery & Toy? I would like to write her/him to make sure it’s clear how unjust this ruling is. S&T and Thomas pharmacy are both outstanding civic members of our neighborhood and were serving customer demand in an emergency, with a normal markup. If that isn’t fair, tell me what is.

    44. Steven says:

      This is outrageous.

      I’ve known Donna Schofield as a customer for over 20 years. Donna is one of the nicest, most generous people I’ve ever met. Her store is a treasure on the UWS.

      And while NYC gets more out of control everyday, this is what the department of consumers wastes it time on?

    45. Lori says:

      Idk, it seems to me making a 50% profit off a neighborhood in normal times, is price gouging already.

    46. Gail says:

      How can we protest the fines? This is a fabulous store and neighborhood resource and center.

    47. Patricia Gilman says:

      THIS IS TERRIBLE – Stationary and Toy is a vital part of the UWS – I doubt Donna would do this deliberately and the judge was wrong in finingher.

    48. LD says:

      Good news – a GoFundMe has been started for Donna and her store. Here’s the address –

      https://www.gofundme.com/f/small-mom-and-pop-needs-your-help-in-new-york

      If we all pitch in, this story will have such a positive ending.

    49. Ami Kantawala says:

      This is a neighborhood shop, convenient and I feel comfortable sending my kids there. Yes- some items have a mark up but so what? Donna is so nice and so is the staff, and the proximity of the store saves me all the hassle so I am more than happy to pay and support a local business. Mom and pop stores are the heart and soul of NYC and woven in the fabric of our city. Why are we supporting chain stores like Target and Marshalls?
      Ridiculous and the stupid judge needs to understand what a neighborhood means.

    50. Upper West Sider says:

      I wonder how many of our chain stores were inspected in this raid of our local stores. The city should know that almost every store in the UWS was out of thee products early on in the pandemic.

      Let’s not punish the small stores that don’t have large corporate offices that can review and follow such government restrictions on pricing. This seems very unfair to put a small business into bankruptcy. A fine of $350/unit is in itself price gouging, let the judge be fined.

    51. Cynthia says:

      This is a great store, important to the community of the Upper West Side. The City and Consumer Affairs are unfair to target small independent businesses struggling to survive, for a reasonable, documented price increase, because it’s easier, than to pursue big powerful companies for any of their many abuses .

    52. SaveTheUWS says:

      If she has documentation to prove the pricing is consistent with normal practice, she shouldn’t be forced to pay the fine! I was dependent on neighborhood shops last year to get me through COVID as packages were being stolen left and right.

    53. Isabella says:

      Nothing short of an assault on small retail businesses. Why aren’t they going after big box stores who gauge instead of the little shop owner trying mightily to get by! How completely upside down this city is!! This should go immediately to the Mayor’s office-and let’s see if Bill dB actually cares about small business owners or if he’s just blown’ smoke. As for the rest of us we can go into Donna’s shop, bypass all the big corporate chains and spend in her place instead. Increasingly I I find NY a more and more hostile city that’s just not worth it anymore.

    54. Naomi Sheiner says:

      I support Donna and her store which always has what I am looking for in stationery and is always helpful. They do not overcharge. Drop by and patronize the store if you can.

    55. UWS Dad says:

      All you people complaining about this being “price gouging” when it’s just reflective of increased supply chain costs: I bet loads of you happily buy iPhones for $1,000 when those cost Apple about $400 to make and are scheduled to break every 2 years.

    56. Aneesa says:

      I love that shop, and that woman is so very nice. When my child was little and he needed birthday presents for his friends I bought them there because I love supporting neighborhood stores. She supplied all the balloons at all his birthday parties and had great selection of Bey blades. She always has rubber cement in stock for putting together school projects! Her things always cost a little more but, it’s a little shop, so that’s what you expect. I believe her when she says she was not gouging. I wish there was a way to protest this or overturn this ruling! The guy at the corner newsstand was selling those tiny sized hand sanitizers for $15 during the pandemic but I was just glad to be able to get something at that point. It was just a tough time and there is always a lot of grey area in those times. We all are lucky to have made it through that awful and strange time.

    57. Kittty says:

      Outrageous! Donna is the best. We need her. Stop the stupid bureaucracy, NYC, and get to work on things that matter: bring back ‘disappeared’ bus stops, for starters.

    58. Save the neighborhood says:

      If you by a 158 oz container of Tide at Target on the UWS it is over $25.
      On Long Island, the same container costs $19.99.
      Why pick on a wonderful business owner whose “profit “ is not all “profit”. It includes all her expenses such as rent, taxes, utilities, etc.
      Love that I have taken my children and now my grandchildren to this store to pick out a treat here and there. Slightly more pricey For some items but worth the in-person shopping experience.

    59. MARCIA says:

      HOW CAN I HELP?

    60. arnold says:

      Oh this is just so wrong. I did see outrageous prices for hydrogen peroxide and N95 masks in the neighborhood and I avoided them. In addition, no one needs hand sanitizer to begin with. Hydrogen peroxinde and plain old rubbing alcohol, are inexpensive and they work. Once again, beuracratic over reach, when you don’t look at the details. Donna would never intrentionally do such a thing and put herself and her business in such jeopardy. Makes no sense. The agency needs to take another look at what happened and make the necessary adjustments. She has already wrestled with her landlord over skyrocketing rents.

    61. Dr. Michael C. Wolf says:

      This is terrible! Bureaucracy gone wild! I’ve bought many items in this store, and they are the NICEST people!!!

    62. Susan Shennon says:

      Beautiful store and beautiful people. A true west side tradition of local caring. During the pandemic stores were just trying to survive and how can the city make this store suffer while at the same time giving money to support other small businesses? These actions can put our stores out of business and the entire neighborhood loses.

    63. Jo Baldwin says:

      Hey, this is New York, I guess Donna Schofield didn’t have an “envelope” for the inspector.

    64. BBB says:

      They have to go after independent stores. It’s disgraceful.

    65. Dan Hammer says:

      Oh my. 113 comments. I just wanted to say thank you to all those that have donated to the GoFundMe page that I set up. It’s truly inspirational to know that so many people care about Donna at Stationery and Toy World.

      Thank you. The page is still up if you’d like to contribute.

      What really irks me is that Big Pharma can charge $1000 for a $2.00 pill, and yet the mom and pop store gets hit with a big fine. Leaves me scratching my head.

    66. I own West Side Kids and am honored to call Donna my friend and colleague. I was so happy she was able ro stay open when most of us had to close. She’s a resourceful, honest, caring and all round wonderful human being! We were all lucky she had supplies no one else had for her community. It’s the wholesalers that we’re gauging her! All she was thinking about was how she could stay afloat and service her neighborhood. Someone please help her! Business is hard enough already for small businesses right now. We are all really struggling. The last thing she can afford is a fine!!!