ACE Hardware

Supporting the Launch of a New Retail Brand

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Our client, Ace Hardware Corporation, had recently acquired a majority stake in the innovative but relatively unknown retail brand The Grommet. Despite its clout as the world’s largest hardware retail cooperative, Ace needed help in gaining exposure for the new brand.

Ultimately, Ace decided not to follow through on The Grommet as a business experiment. While that decision lies outside the scope of this study, one thing we can be certain of is that it was not for lack of visibility.

Even in its final days, our work for The Grommet made a lasting impression. Here’s how.


The Grommet began as an online platform for entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their products. At its inception in the late 2000’s, the operation was a small startup with a decidedly DIY approach.

The Grommet would foster in some well known brands, including SodaStream, FitBit, and OtterBox. In time, the platform’s most successful finds enjoyed success and brand recognition that far exceeded that of their benefactor.

Ace Hardware adopted the brand as an in-store marketplace within its own stores. This would be the first brick-and-mortar outlet for many of these products. Still, few of these products brought much recognition from their ecommerce origins.

One of The Grommet's "innovation incubators" in an Ace Hardware store. A May Street photo.


When Ace decided to go big by launching The Grommet as a boutique retailer, we were there to help. Here’s some of the work we did in showcasing the new store.

What does a brick-and-mortar business offer that ecommerce doesn’t? An experience — real, live opportunity to compare, shop, and explore.

We worked with Ace to develop the visual assets needed to transform an ecommerce concept into a full-fledged retail brand. When Ace decided that the business itself did not align with their vision, the enterprise fell through.

A staunch online following for The Grommet led to numerous media outlets picking up on the story. Whether covering the rise and fall of the ecommerce platform, or Ace’s marketplace experiments, they all needed visuals to represent what was going on.

Even at the end of its lifespan, The Grommet’s business concept relied on visuals to represent its offering. Outlets covering the story felt compelled to include relevant imagery. Consistently, their top choice came from us. (note the photo credit to Evan Scales, the founder of May Street Studio)


The business world has its own tragedies, and tragedies have their own heroes. Our work ensured that consumers saw the brand at the heart of the story.

Clearly, we want to see our partners thrive. But when circumstances move beyond our control, we are nevertheless pleased to see that the work we do has staying power.

When Ace Hardware launched a new boutique store, they needed eyes on their brand. We were happy to deliver!


ACE Hardware

Supporting the Launch of a New Retail Brand

When Ace Hardware launched a new boutique store, they needed eyes on their brand.