Prairie Grit is a new online antique, vintage, and collector’s marketplace created by Shawn Herrick. As a proud North Dakotan, Herrick desires for Prairie Grit to be a company that continues to build on the positive momentum of the Midwest. “I want Prairie Grit to compete on an international level with big-box retailers from our headquarters here in North Dakota… The Midwest has hard working people that are driven to make things happen, and our brand reflects that fact,” said Herrick.
“Self-taught and unorthodox” are words that Herrick uses to describe his entrepreneurial journey. Herrick’s education includes a GED and a love for anything to do with the internet. This love opened the door for the idea behind Prairie Grit. “I taught myself how to type, how to code, and how to make money online… I was driven by the excitement of learning anything about the internet,” explained Herrick.
As a single parent with a full-time job, Herrick began flipping products on eBay for profit. Over the course of a few years, Herrick’s profits exceeded $25,000. “I would go to garage sells and auctions to buy things for cheap and then sell them on eBay… but then the algorithm behind eBay hindered my future growth on the platform,” said Herrick. Over the course of a few months, Herrick had made refunds to unsatisfied customers on eBay in an effort to provide a high-level of customer service. This kindness was the tipping point for the eBay algorithm and Herrick’s future.
“I was applying exceptional customer service that I learned from my time with Real Truck, and eBay was limiting my account because of it,” said Herrick. After spending thirty minutes on the phone with an eBay representative, Herrick learned that there was nothing that could be done about his limited account. From that point, Herrick told the representative that his mission was to “compete with eBay by creating a marketplace with a human touch.”
In 2012, he walked into his web developer’s office in Jamestown, North Dakota fueled with resentment and a passion to create a better online marketplace. Over the course of five years, Herrick worked with developers to create what is today PrairieGrit.com. The website currently offers an Etsy style platform for users to post vintage, antiques, and handmade items for sale. “Our site has been live for three weeks now and I am really excited about customers using our platform,” explained Herrick. Users can choose between three subscription tiers that allow for a range of listings on the website.
In 2017, Herrick raised capital to launch the official Prairie Grit website in February of 2018. Thus far, the market response has been positive and Herrick has personally sold $1,000 of merchandise through the site in the past three weeks. “The last five years has been worth it… I hope that my journey and Prairie Grit will inspire others to follow their own thinking and trust their gut instinct in their own entrepreneurial endeavors,” said Herrick.
Learn more from Shawn Herrick and Prairie Grit as he speaks at 1 Million Cups Fargo on Wednesday, March 14th, 2018 at 9:15 a.m. at The Stage in Island Park.