John Venhuizen, president and CEO of Ace Hardware, and Jules Pieri, CEO and co-founder of e-commerce start-up The Grommet, joined Cheddar to discuss the major stake Ace Hardware recently took in the online retailer. According to The Grommet's CEO Jules Pieri, the partnership with Ace Hardware is going to provide entrepreneurs who sell products on The Grommet greater access to capital. The Grommet currently brands itself as a company that "launch undiscovered products and helps them succeed." It is known for launching companies such as Otterbox, SodaStream, and Fitbit on its platform. The deal with Ace is projected to help The Grommet expand its audience and grow its base of 3 million subscribers, according to Pieri. To make that possible, selected products from The Grommet are set to hit in-store and online shelves at Ace Hardware locations across the U.S. The Grommet and Ace Hardware alliance comes at a time when entrepreneurs are gravitating towards locally-sourced products. Companies such as Amazon, and recently Wal-Mart, are competing in the field. Wal-Mart recently launched "Uniquely J" an independent label to rival Amazon. Jules said that she believes locally-sourced products have piqued consumer's interest because people have a natural drive to create, and technology offers a platform for this creativity to flourish. Venhuizen adds that Ace Hardware's brick and mortar stores offer independent entrepreneurs another platform to sell products beyond Amazon. "We can now bring these makers what we think is a real clear path and a meaningful path to growth without always having to bow down to the altar of Amazon," he said.

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