International access to game pieces via the "Secret Distribution Partner"?

Over in a thread about “The brushes of the loading station”, a comment caught my eye:

When FIRST announced they wouldn’t do an International Game Piece FIRST Choice Option this year, they said they had a “Secret Distribution Partner” which should make things much easier for international teams. Some of us in that thread had some random guesses, but since that time I don’t remember hearing anything more about this. Though to be fair, it’s worth noting that (1) I’m in the US, and (2) I’m just a volunteer and not even on a team, so it’s entirely likely I just missed it.

Who is the “Secret Distribution Partner”? For international teams, is getting access to game pieces (whether in price, shipping time, or availability) any easier or harder this season than in past years? Have there been communications to international teams on how they can get the game pieces this year?

Vex id assume from this thread

Which is great, except they don’t have an international watehouse in or near Israel, the second largest non-North American team population. We ordered our hatch covers on kickoff day and I’d be surprised if they’re here before weeks end. Vex does have an Israeli distributor but they are woefully ill equipped. Their items are often delayed without warning, they don’t deliver (you have to pick up in person), and the website is practically unusable. This forces teams to handle import and customs individually, which is a slow process and expensive if you want game pieces before bag and tag. I love Vex, and I’m sure they’re trying their best to service the community. But after switching from 1-day shipping with my team in the US to 1-week (if you’re lucky) shipping internationally, I have a hard time sitting idly by accepting this disparity.

For the record, I still haven’t seen any way to buy the field brushes here. Home Depot, though convienient for US teams, is not an international company. From what I can see, they don’t have locations in Canada or Mexico either. This is exactly the same problem we had with McMaster’s springs just two years ago. We simply can’t get them here. You would hope with the lip service FIRST is giving to international growth they would better consider the struggles those teams face, especially when we have been complaining about the same problems for years.

We’re not much better off in Michigan… the door sweeps aren’t available at our local Home Depot, or any Home Depot within several hours drive. They just became available for ship to your store today, but wont arrive at the store until 1/21/19. I knew about the brush early, but figured it wouldn’t be an issue, I live ten minutes from two home depot stores. Each store only stocked 1-2 door brushes…

2370 (Up here in Vermont) has a ton in stock at our local stores. We would be willing to get them and send them USPS priority mail, you would probably have them early next week if we shipped tomorrow. We would pre-cut them to save on shipping. If my math is right it would be ~$15 including shipping anywhere in the US. If you are interested, let me know in a PM.

I’m not sure how this would work for international teams, but I’ll ask at the post office the best options and check on pricing.

I don’t think we could do hundreds of these, but the local stores have ~15-20 in stock at each of our 5 or so local locations.

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We actually ordered one on Amazon to have one, It should be here tomorrow. Thanks for the offer!

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