News & Politics

Vermont Government Orders Big Box Retailers to Stop Selling 'Non-Essential' Goods

Empty shelves for disinfectant wipes wait for restocking, as concerns grow around COVID-19, Tuesday March 3, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The state of Vermont is ordering big box retailers such as Target and Costco to stop selling “non-essential” items in its stores. Customers will still be able to purchase them over the phone or online, but in-store purchases won’t be possible because the retailers will have taken the products off the shelves.


“Large ‘big box’ retailers generate significant shopping traffic by virtue of their size and the variety of goods offered in a single location,” Agency of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle said on Tuesday. “This volume of shopping traffic significantly increases the risk of further spread of this dangerous virus to Vermonters and the viability of Vermont’s health care system.”

What sort of goods are considered non-essential?

  • Arts and crafts
  • Beauty supplies
  • Carpet and flooring
  • Clothing
  • Consumer electronics
  • Entertainment (books, music, movies)
  • Furniture
  • Home and garden
  • Jewelry
  • Paint
  • Photo services
  • Sports equipment
  • Toys

The state says stores must restrict access to nonessential goods by close [sic] aisles, closing portions of the store or removing items from the floor. The order says “showrooms and garden sections of large home improvement centers should be closed.”

I defer to experts as to whose logic sounds reasonable in this case, but we have to remember that this is the Socialist Government of Vermont and the bureaucrats may have been itching to take control at some point.

And if it’s such a good idea, why haven’t other states and other localities done the same thing?

As I said, it makes sense and will perhaps seem even more reasonable when the number of cases of the virus begins to balloon to unimaginable heights. But there’s something about “kicking the tires” of a new TV or seeing and feeling the fabric of a new shirt that you can’t get online.

Not only that, but there’s also a morale issue involved here. Buying something new always picks us up and we’re going to need all the cheering up we can get if we have to stay cooped up for at least another month. Rather than going to several stores looking for something, the big box retailers give us the option of doing a one-stop-shop for food as well as that pair of sneakers we’ve had our eye on for a while. Those stimulus checks are going to be burning holes in people’s pockets, and going to Walmart might be just the ticket to cure a case of the virus blues.