Markwort Sporting Goods is a third-generation family business in St. Louis, Missouri that sells sports equipment to retailers and distributors throughout the United States and internationally to approximately 50 nations on six continents, but it had a modest start in The Great Depression. In 1931, 14-year-old tennis player Herb Markwort – who learned to restring his rackets because he couldn’t afford to pay to have someone else do it – earned a dollar by restringing a fellow player’s racket. He soon started doing this for others on his parents’ back porch in St. Louis, prompting a nosy neighbor to ask if he had a license. Herb went downtown the next day to get one and Markwort Sporting Goods was born.
Herb was the top-ranked high school tennis player in St. Louis and went on to play the sport at Washington University in St. Louis, where he was undefeated in his first two years. At the same time, he opened a sporting goods store on Grand Avenue and a couple years later got the tennis shop concession while serving as the youngest athletic director at Triple A Tennis Club in Forest Park. Herb helped organize and put on tennis tournaments that drew stars like Bobby Riggs (of Battle of the Sexes fame) and convinced the club to let him hold free clinics, which attracted up to 400 people.
After his sophomore year, he left Washington University to focus on his growing retail business and Markwort line of products, starting out with tennis rackets, including the Markwort Green Flash and Markwort Pro Line. When Herb tried to stock the store with products from other companies, he wasn’t able to get the main brands, which often didn’t even return his calls.
At the time, there was a big sporting goods store in downtown St. Louis that carried the big four brands – Rawlings, Wilson, Spalding, and MacGregor – so Herb got the word out to secondary brands and stocked up on their goods. He was open to new products and was one of the first stores in the area to sell snow skis. In 1944, the year of the only all-St. Louis World Series, Herb opened a larger retail store.
After World War II, when soldiers came back and were looking for work, some asked if they could buy Herb’s products wholesale, and then sell them in the surrounding towns where they lived. That’s how Herb got into wholesale. The company’s first wholesale warehouse was on 9th Street downtown, then relocated a year later to what is now the site of Ballpark Village and Busch Stadium. The company had to move again in 1960, to make way for downtown redevelopment that included construction of the old Busch Stadium, this time to the Central West End, where it remained for 44 years. Markwort Sporting Goods then moved to Creve Coeur, which it still calls home today.
Meanwhile, the company’s two retail stores were sold in the early 1970s, and as the business grew, Herb concentrated on wholesaling a broader line of sporting goods. At one point the Markwort catalog grew to over 800 pages.
The company began exhibiting at trade shows, first in the U.S., and then internationally, beginning with the 1980 Munich ISPO, helping the company to grow into a company with sales worldwide.
Herb died in 1989, and his son, Herb Markwort Jr., took over the company, which he runs with his two adult sons, Herbie Markwort III and Brett Markwort, continuing the vision started by the entrepreneurial patriarch almost 90 years ago.
Sporting Goods Dealers who qualify can enjoy special volume disounts through Markwort Sporting Goods Company. If you are a Dealer and would like to set up an account with us, please contact Customer Service at: 314.942.1199 or Toll Free 1.800.280.5555. You can also email sales: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please review our PURCHASING TERMS page for a summary of Markwort's dealer terms.
Dealers can see all the products we offer by visiting our CATALOGS LINK. There you will be able to conveniently browse our on-line flip catalogs. You can also download any page of our catalogs or entire catalogs in PDF form.
Most items seen in our catalogs are available for purchase through our website (online sales only). You may also contact us in anyway and we will be happy to direct you to a dealer near you or provide other product and purchase information.