Bettinardi Golf sells high-end putters in nearly 50 countries around the world, but despite the company’s best efforts, South America has always represented a glaring gap in its distribution list. Extremely high import taxes in countries like Brazil made it difficult to access this economy.
“With the likes of Joaquin Niemann, who is from Chile, this golf market has exploded,” company president Sam Pettinardi told GOLF.com on Tuesday. “Argentina is another strong market for golf. We have been looking for a real distributor to get our products in the right accounts in South America as in Japan, Korea, Thailand and the UK. We have been doing this for 10 years.”
As Bettinardi continues to search for a suitable distributor, one has finally come out on top and seems to tick all the boxes. The contact had all the right connections in South America and shared with Bettinardi a long-term business plan that eventually led to a distribution deal.
Everything seemed to be running smoothly until three months ago when Bettinardi started hearing the gurgling of her Studio Stock rackets, which retail for $449, and sell on Costco for $359. Several weeks ago, Bettinardi Queen B rackets also appeared on the wholesaler’s website, and a video went viral on Instagram highlighting the discounted rackets.
“It was concerning to me because we don’t have an account with Costco,” Pettinardi said. “I was going to let it go, but there was talk on social media as well as video and some retailers calling me. I felt it was in our brand’s best interest to let our partners and customers know this wasn’t intended.”
After some research, Bettinardi was able to determine who was selling her rackets wholesale: the distributor in South America. Pettinardi said that when Pettinardi confronted him, the dealer called out ignorance and blamed his network of sellers who were only supposed to sell specs in other South American countries.
“They blamed the person they sold the product to, which I don’t think is what happened,” Pettinardi said. “I think they went straight to Costco instead of trying to grow our brand in South America, which was a challenging market to begin with.”
Last week, Pettinardi issued a statement About the situation that received negative feedback from many commentators on social media who wondered why the racket maker had a problem with the wholesaler selling their rackets.
“I didn’t think this would explode like it did,” Pettinardi said. “I didn’t believe all the comments on social media, but I guess this is the internet, so you should expect everything, right?”
While the statement might read as if Bettinardi has beef with Costco (which didn’t immediately respond to GOLF.com’s request for comment), Bettinardi said the real problem lay with the distributor, who broke the agreement that he would sell Bettinardi’s rackets. Only in South America.
Eventually, Pettinardi said, the distributor sold the dryers to the same country where they were initially made.
“The reason for the statement is that we have a lot of retailers across the country selling our MSRP products, which is $430 for Queen B and $449 for Studio Stock,” Pettinardi said. “All distributors sign contracts where they are only supposed to sell in this country. We already have retailers selling our rackets in America. That was not part of the agreement with this distributor.
“Maybe we could have done more research, but the person we sold to looked legitimate and had the right connections. He shared his business plan with us, but it was probably all fake. So we were duped.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Costco no longer sells Bettinardi rackets on its website, and Bettinardi has confirmed that it is actively working with the wholesaler to find a solution to the remaining rackets.
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