Ace Hardware acquires The Grommet

After a year-long relationship, the co-op takes ownership of the new-product incubator

A Grommet display at the recent Ace Hardware Convention in Chicago.

Ace Hardware Corp. has been dating The Grommet for about a year. Now, the two are getting married.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based hardware co-op announced an acquisition of the new-product platform that originated as The Daily Grommet. Ace Hardware and The Grommet first began working together in 2016 as part of a collaboration to bring new, unique and otherwise undiscovered products from independent “makers” – creative, independent entrepreneurs -- into select Ace stores.

The marriage is based on the concepts of product innovation and retail differentiation, as The Grommet will continue to find and develop products, and the co-op will continue its efforts to make them available to its dealers.

Financial terms of the deal were not revealed

“We both stand as strong advocates for the underdog,” said Ace Hardware CEO John Venhuizen. “From the very beginning we have appreciated our alignment in support for and advancement of the independent maker. 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.”

The Grommet operates an e-commerce website that markets and sells new and innovative products. Among its success stories are products such as FitBit, IdeaPaint, OtterBox, SimpliSafe and SodaStream. So far, The Grommet has launched more than 2,500 innovative consumer products and amassed a community of more than three million early adopters and supporters, the company said.

Ace Hardware is now the majority, controlling owner of The Grommet. However, both of the company’s original founders, Joanne Domeniconi and Jules Pieri, and their employees, will continue to have some equity ownership of the company. Ace intends to provide considerable autonomy to The Grommet and 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 said. 

[Watch the slide show of Ace's Innovation display at its recent Chicago convention here.]

Retail analytics from Ace Hardware stores point to the value in aligning both physical stores with a digital discovery platform. Current customers of The Grommet visit Ace over 50% more times than the average Ace Rewards customer and spend 2.8 times as much, the co-op said.

“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,” said Jules Pieri, co-founder and CEO of The Grommet.

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