The gray market is normal in just about all goods. Not so much with Domestically produced products (such as high dollar instruments), because there isn't a way to import these at a lessor cost. Where we see this the most , is with things like Camera gear. You will see highly discounted prices on what appear to be identical models. The differnece is usually that these discounted versions are from other countries. It is often the identical product in different packaging, maybe without US instructions, and may need some settings changed. Of course buying like this, there is no warranty.
So how do mandolins end up on the gray market?
Buying inventory from an authorized dealer is the most common reason this comes about. Most dealer agreements specifically state that the "authorized" dealer cannot sell to other dealers, but when a retailer goes out of business, or otherwise wants to dump inventory, it happens. It is also a common tactic to be able to break the suppliers terms as far as sales and advertising. When you get into the better brands such as Weber Mandolins, the terms are strict. You have to accurately represent the brand, keep instruments in good order, provide great follow up service, etc.. The dealer is limited in how they can advertise and where they can sell. All of this is important to protect the brand. One bad dealer can do major damage to a brand. Of course less scrupulous dealers can get into gray market and pass the instruments off to another seller that does not abide by the rules. This isn't as prolific with something like a Weber Mandolin, due to low production and serialized inventory that can be traced.
Again, this is not a major concern with something like mandolins and especially the US made instruments. It is a common question that comes up and we thought it should be explained.
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