Faire Report Finds Majority of U.S. Adults Would Rather Shop Specialty Retail over Big Box to Find Something Unique

June 28, 2023  |  By Faire

New research commissioned by Faire, the largest wholesale marketplace used by 700,000 independent retailers around the world, found that the average consumer faces a range of challenges when shopping at big box stores, and believes that the overall shopping experience has become less desirable. Nearly half of U.S. consumers reported they are likely to have trouble finding what they are looking for, or are unable to discover something unique at big box retailers.

In the survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Faire, the majority of adult consumers reported they would rather shop at specialty retail stores to find something unique. Shopping with independent retailers has even more appeal for younger generations – with the majority of Gen Z and Millennial consumers sharing that they prefer the browsing experience at specialty shops over large retailers, and choose to shop there to discover new products.

“Small stores were very much a part of our launch strategy and go-to-market strategy,” said Allen Dushi, co-founder and COO of squeeze-bottled olive oil brand, Graza. “It can be hard to trust what you see on Instagram and TikTok, we felt that working with independent retailers made our brand real. These shops are so thoughtfully curated and trusted by their clientele, so having them vouch for your product is extremely important.” Since joining Faire, Graza has been stocked in over 800 independent retailers through the platform in less than a year – representing 60% more locations than Whole Foods stores in the United States. 

When it comes to deciding where to shop, Faire’s survey revealed that the number of consumers that value the quality of products is more than double the amount of consumers that value convenience. Related research conducted in May from leading consumer venture capital firm, Forerunner Ventures, uncovered that buying locally and sustainably are pivotal factors in the purchase decision of over 60% of consumers. Younger and minority consumers place even more significance on values-based shopping, with a June report from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) revealing that 56% of Gen Z consumers are willing to spend more for sustainably sourced products and have a “proclivity for brands whose values align with their own.”

Tiny Fish Co. founder and CEO, Sara Hauman, joined Faire in January to expand her tinned fish line into independent retailers across the country, and has since averaged 50 orders per month. “Partnering with like-minded retailers who are aligned with our mission of encouraging climate-friendly food habits and understand the art of preserving ephemeral food sources, is crucial to our growth as a company,” shared the former Top Chef contestant and two-time James Beard Rising Star semi-finalist.

This reinvigorated appetite for values-driven shopping and deliberate consumerism is further demonstrated by Faire’s own platform data which reveals that the volume of products purchased that are eco-friendly, handmade, or not available on Amazon has increased nearly 4x since 2020. It’s therefore unsurprising that consumers today are seeking out specialty shops that largely focus on quality, experience, and community values, rather than big box retailers that compete on price and convenience. 

Forerunner’s survey also discovered that consumers today have a more favorable view of local, independent retailers over big box chains like Walmart and Target, online boutiques, shopping center retailers, and department stores. Between heightened focus on values-driven consumerism, increased challenges found at big box chains, and favorability towards experiences found at specialty retail shops – the future of independent retail is bright. As part of its commitment to helping the small business community grow, Faire remains focused on delivering the products and services to help independent brands and retailers grow and ultimately reach the demands of today’s consumer.

Research methodology 

The Faire Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 1,000 nationally representative US adults ages 18+ who have shopped at specialty stores in the last 12 months, between May 10th and May 14th, 2023, using an email invitation and an online survey. 

The Forerunner survey was conducted May 29-30, 2023 among 619 adults ages 18 and up living in the United States.

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