Hardware Retailing

APR 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | April 2018 74 What Makes a Maker? With The Grommet, everyday innovators have a more significant opportunity to get their products in front of consumers. It also means supporting small businesses in communities across the country. "When we hear talk of revitalizing small businesses and preserving Main Street, there are actions that need to take place on the national level to help, but there are so many actions we can take every day to influence change," Pieri says. "Systemic change takes time, but one way to influence it is by supporting makers and maker communities. Investing in them supports entrepreneurship and innovation—probably right in your own community." When selecting a product to feature on The Grommet platform, the company evaluates the item based on 10 values, such as products Made in the U.S., which shoppers can sort by on the website. The most recent value, Made for a Lifetime, is about providing products with lifetime guarantees and was inspired by consumer campaigns on social media. The Discovery team at The Grommet attends trade shows, researches online and meets makers in their communities to find striking new products. "We're always on the lookout for a product that solves a distinctive problem," says Meredith Doherty, vice president of discovery for The Grommet. "Along with that, it's also important that all of the products we support have at least one of our values represented." Doherty says it takes about eight to 10 weeks for a new product to be launched on the site. While that timeline is fast, sometimes the conversation happens over the course of several years before a product is ready to go to market. "We do work with a lot of people who are in the concept or prototyping phase," Doherty says. "If we think it's a fit, we keep in touch. It's important that the makers we work with have inventory on hand." Products also come to The Grommet through creator submissions on the website and through recommendations from other makers. The Caring Consumer Consumers are driving the market for products made by values-focused entrepreneurs, and The Grommet offers them a place to know exactly what they're getting with its platform. "People are caring more about where their products are made, and they're more deliberate with how they spend their money," Pieri says. "We wanted to give people the opportunity to shop for values they already want to support." Along with having a passion for creating innovative products, Pieri says it's important that the people who sell their products through The Grommet are those the company is proud to partner with. "We've been lucky to work with more than 2,500 makers who are inspiring and pushing boundaries, and we can't wait to meet, work with, and support thousands of others who are out there," she says. Ace Hardware Corp. acquired a majority stake in The Grommet in October. The partnership puts innovative products discovered by The Grommet on Ace Hardware store shelves throughout the country.

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