Ace Hardware Corp. announced Tuesday that it has purchased the majority stake in e-commerce startup The Grommet.
The Grommet operates an e-commerce website that markets and sells new and innovative products created by independent entrepreneurs, also known as makers, according to Ace. The Grommet has launched dozens of popular brand names, including Fitbit, IdeaPaint, OtterBox, SimpliSafe and SodaStream. To date, the company has launched more than 2,500 consumer products and amassed a community of more than 3 million early adopters and supporters.
“We both stand as strong advocates for the underdog. From the very beginning we have appreciated our alignment in support for and advancement of the independent maker,” Ace president and CEO John Venhuizen says. “Under Ace’s ownership, I believe The Grommet can offer our customers more of that which fuels global economies and makes America special—the unbridled creativity of the local entrepreneur.”
Ace Hardware and The Grommet first began working together in 2016 as part of a collaboration to bring new, unique and previously undiscovered products from independent makers into Ace stores.
“The Grommet has often been called a general store for innovation, and Ace is a trusted destination for the goods and services homeowners need to take care of their homes. That is a powerful combination,” says Jules Pieri, co-founder and CEO of The Grommet. “Both companies have a deep heritage of helping local businesses thrive, so our values are uncannily compatible. And how fitting is it that our company is named after a humble piece of hardware?”
Ace Hardware is now the majority controlling owner of The Grommet, but the company’s original founders, Joanne Domeniconi and Jules Pieri, and their employees will continue to have some equity ownership of the company. Ace has no plans to change the company’s strategic direction.
“Ace’s expansive supply chain and network of 5,034 stores coupled with The Grommet’s innovative product discovery platform combine to give dreamers, inventors, innovators and makers a sustainable, high-quality path to meaningful growth, without having to bow down to the altar of Amazon,” Venhuizen says.
Retail analytics from Ace Hardware stores demonstrate significant value in aligning physical stores with a digital discovery platform. Current customers of The Grommet visit Ace over 50 percent more times than the average Ace Rewards customer and spend 2.8 times as much money, according to the co-op.
The Grommet began in 2008 and is headquartered in Somerville, Massachusetts. Ace Hardware is based in Oak Brook, Illinois, and its co-op members own and operate more than 5,000 stores in the U.S. and about 55 countries.