Exclusive: Why Glenn Beck is selling pillows, salsa and survival kits

Glenn Beck marketplace

Glenn Beck’s multimedia company Mercury Radio Arts is launching an online marketplace that sells goods from carefully selected small businesses and describes its business model as “real-world trickle-down economics.”

“As a small business owner myself, I strongly believe in the power of small businesses. Their stories, their products and their passion is what makes America great,” Beck said.

The Marketplace is the new iteration of Markdown.com, Beck’s flash-sale site. The site has about 50 partners at launch, selling 1,500 products across categories like food and drink, camping and outdoors, toys and games and education.

The Marketplace by Markdown.com will be promoted across Mercury’s platforms, including Beck’s radio program, which has 10 million weekly listeners, and his Facebook page, which has over 2 million fans.

Keith Ferry, president of Markdown.com, becomes president of Marketplace. “We are handpicking and curating [small businesses] for our audience,” Ferry told GigaOM. “They all met the rigorous criteria we set up,” including tests of samples and customer service reviews.

Each business had to have “a story to tell,” Ferry said. For example, maybe “they suffered a layoff and picked themselves back up off the mat to support their family. That’s probably the biggest requirement. Each company has a story to tell about why they’re doing what they’re doing. Our audience connects very well with that.”

Ferry says that the companies are not required to share Beck’s politics and political stance was “not one of the requirements,” though “many of them do follow Glenn and are fans of Glenn.” Many of the launch partners sell products that relate to themes on Beck’s show. MyPatriotSupply.com and EmergencyGoBags.com sell emergency preparedness supplies, for example; Simple Schooling and Creative Learning Connection sell homeschooling materials; and Sent For Him sells Christian greeting cards. Other partners — BaconFreak, Nuts For You, The Charleston Soap Chef — sell more general products.

The site features the small business owners prominently, including stories and pictures. “First and foremost it’s the stories, being able to connect with a small business in a way that [shoppers] ordinarily cannot do online,” Ferry said. “It harkens back to the days when you could walk down Main Street in your own town and do business with a handshake. That’s the kind of environment we want to create.”

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