Faire – Reshaping Local Retail
Initially, it seemed like 2020 would be a challenging year for Faire. The company helps connect local, independent businesses with brands and artisans to stock their shelves with the best goods. Many of these local retailers were experiencing a slow-down in foot traffic or mandatorily closed across the country as the US grappled with the pandemic.
We were surprised at first to learn that Faire was thriving despite all the unpredictability. However, as we dug deeper, we realized that we underestimated the resiliency of local businesses and what a critical role Faire played for its customers.
As a result, 2020 will be a record year for Faire. Over the past year, Faire has more than tripled its business and grown its customer base to more than 100,000 independent retailers and over 10,000 brands on the platform. Faire now represents more retail locations by door count in North America than Starbucks, Walgreens, Sephora, Target, Nordstrom and Walmart combined.
Today we’re excited to announce that Norwest is investing in Faire’s $170 million Series E round.
A Faire Tale
Max Rhodes (co-founder, CEO) decided to launch a consumer umbrella company prior to starting Faire. He had a solid grasp on the dynamics between retailers and consumers from his experience at Square, but his new umbrella company gave him a glimpse into the hidden world of wholesale. Max discovered that this massive $1.5 trillion market was still being driven by inefficient, frenzied in-person trade shows and traditional sales representatives with very little digitization.
Max saw an opportunity to reimagine the wholesale experience and offer new data-driven tools and resources to the brand and retailer communities, so he teamed up with other Square alums Marcelo Cortes (CTO), Jeff Kolovson (COO) and Daniele Perito (CDO) to start Faire. The company hit product/market fit and has expanded rapidly since its launch.
Facing the Crucible of Covid
Despite Faire’s growth this year, Covid was not a universal tailwind for wholesale platforms. Many of these platforms struggled with the uncertainty or took a step back from local businesses to minimize risk. Faire saw an opportunity to step up and provide support for its local retail customers in the face of these unpredictable conditions by continuing to offer options like net 60 payment terms, free returns on opening orders and freight caps. Major trade shows, which have historically been important events for brands and local retailers, were canceled this year. In response, Faire organized events like the online Faire Summer Market to help retailers access and buy inventory for the holiday season.
Local retailers not only adapted quickly to Covid by opening up online shops and setting up safe curbside pickup, but they also started using Faire more frequently to discover, manage and purchase new products. We spoke to a number of local retailers and brands who credited Faire with giving them the boost they needed to stay in business this year. Through Faire’s supportive actions, the company has managed to capture much of the accelerating shift of wholesale towards online buying due to Covid. The accelerating adoption of Faire by local retailers and Faire’s ongoing share of wallet expansion is indicative of the value Faire provides to its customers.
The Future is Local
We believe that small businesses are vital to our communities, and Faire is still in the early innings of modernizing and transforming wholesale for local retailers. We are excited about the vision Faire has to further improve the experience for their current customers as well as the opportunity that lies ahead for Faire to expand to serve local retailers around the world. Faire is also growing into new categories such as apparel and food.
We are optimistic about the future of local retail and genuinely believe that Faire has one of the strongest founding teams at any startup. They have had unbelievable execution to date despite the adversity they have faced and have managed to attract equally talented individuals to come join them on this journey. This new round of capital will help Faire continue to build the network and tools to empower their customers to compete against the e-commerce giants and big-box retailers.
We’re thrilled to welcome Max, Jeff, Marcelo, Daniele and the Faire team to the Norwest family.