EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3120 - July 31, 2013     2 of 4

Vintage Sellers Worry over New Etsy Policy

By Julia Wilkinson

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Etsy shoppers will likely see fewer products made with animal parts such as feathers, bone, and fur going forward on the site. Etsy recently announced changes to its Prohibited Items policy to include items made from certain animals, including those designated as threatened or endangered.

"The new policy includes but is not limited to items or materials such as fur, pelts, ivory, teeth, bones, and taxidermied specimens from those protected animals," wrote Lauren Engelhardt in an Etsy Announcement.

Etsy explained the changes as part of their "lasting commitment to lead by our values and use the power of business to help solve social and environmental problems in our world." The company said it believes itís important for it and its community to "minimize our impact on the depletion of scarce natural resources," and with this update it takes a "step forward to help protect the diverse species of wildlife with which we share our planet."

The policy changes include both new and vintage items. Etsy noted that vintage items are often referred to as "pre-ban" or "antique," and they are prohibited "even if the seller has documentation of rights to sell the items under applicable law." The risk that the legal status of these items may be unknown or mislabeled is too great, explained Etsy in its policy update, "and continued sale of these items, though potentially legal, stands to perpetuate market demand and further jeopardize the existence of these species."

In a discussion thread opened up about the change, seller reaction was mixed. Many sellers applauded the changes as humane and/or beneficial to the environment. A seller whose Etsy handle is "wickedmagpie" wrote about chinchillas being on the list of prohibited items, "I was reading where they are endangered, on the verge of becoming extinct. Poor little fellas. They are really cute! They are from Peru and Chile and are still being hunted illegally."

But some sellers worried this might lead to the banning of the non-endangered species-related items that they sell: "I make my living off of non-endangered animal parts," said one seller. "I'm glad to see they prohibited the endangered animal parts, but please let's not ban all of them."

Marilyn Souza, whose Etsy shop, TheUltimateTreasure, sells porcupine quills for use in craft projects, agreed: "I also sell animal parts...let's hope that porcupines don't become endangered!!"

And other sellers who sold vintage items were not happy with the change. "Hazel," whose shop is Pinguim, wrote, "I support Etsy's decision to do this for new pieces. However, it is so completely inappropriate for items that are vintage." She pointed out that shops selling such items are "now out on all funds invested in such pieces." And "banning a vintage item does nothing whatsoever to help an endangered species. Nothing."

Sellers can review the Prohibited Items policy in the DOs & DON'Ts here, and also check out a new FAQ about the policy.

Etsy has, however, made an exception to its prohibited species policy "for authentic articles of Native Alaskan crafts that are exempt under US law," explaining that "Etsy values the preservation of traditional Native Alaskan cultures." Therefore, Native Alaskans are exempt from some of these restrictions under Section 10e of the US Endangered Species Act.

Another seller noted that the list of prohibited animal products on the FAQ page was not the whole list of all threatened or endangered species which cannot legally be sold; for that list, you must click the link to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Environmental Conservation Online System, provided on the FAQ page.

Sellers who are not sure if their item is prohibited may contact the Etsy Marketplace Integrity Team directly with any questions.

Comment about the new policy on the AuctionBytes Blog.

About the author:

Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.

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