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Wed Sept 2 2015 21:46:28

Is Etsy Too Lax or Too Strict over Handmade vs Resellers?

By: Ina Steiner

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A seller who runs Three Bird Nest was an Etsy success story, touted by the media as an example of how an entrepreneurial mother of three could create a million-dollar business. But as she gained publicity, Alicia Shaffer also gained notoriety among her fellow artisan sellers on Etsy.

The issue is a familiar one to anyone who sells on the marketplace known for its handmade goods where accusations of reselling are rampant.

Did Shaffer make her items? She told Fast Company in February that she imported items such as knitted legwarmers and socks from India and "We finish them here, adding lace trimmings and buttons." That outraged some fellow Etsians.

In August, Shaffer told Yahoo Makers she was leaving the site. "Things came to a head last month when Etsy suspended Three Bird Nest," according to the article. "Shaffer says it was over an Etsy customer complaint about an undelivered $20 order - a complaint, she says, that Etsy neither told her about nor gave her the chance to make right."

Shaffer called it the "final straw." "I can't wrap my head around why we've essentially been targeted by them," she says of Etsy. "I just feel that a lot of sellers are at that point where they're just really fed up and wanting to move away from that."

Yahoo Makers added Etsy's side of the story in an update:

"At Etsy, we work with our sellers to help them grow their businesses and uphold our policies, which are vital to the integrity of our marketplace. If an Etsy seller still cannot live up to her responsibilities, provide the level of customer service our buyers expect or comply with our handmade policy, we may take appropriate action. While we generally don't comment on specific sellers, Three Bird Nest was unable to demonstrate sufficient compliance with our policies."

Take a look at Thursday's Newsflash article and let us know what you think of how Etsy handled the issue and whether it's too lax or too strict when it comes to resellers on its marketplace.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Siobhan

Fri Sep 4 00:51:58 2015

I have an etsy shop since 2011 that I worked hard to make modest sales, with regular, repeat customers all along until early 2015, it's been crickets. So I have put the shop on ''permanent'' vacation mode until I decide what I want to do with the account. All handmade in my studio. But when you have an etsy seller making the same type of products as you, having 10 of 1000's of sales, no. I don't think she's doing it all, except packing and labeling. She is having a company doing what they call ''private label'' marketing for you: where they do everything for you and send it to your door and all you have to pack, label and ship. How can one compete with a seller like that? But, the legal definition of hand made is everything can be factory made and if all you do is pack it in a box, then, legally, it can be considered ''handmade''.Maybe that is why etsy allows all this.

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by: Watching the Wheels This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 4 06:20:37 2015

Personally, I don't blame her for being mad. Three Bird nest isn't the first "ETSY POSTER CHILD", who was selling very thinly disguised manufactured imports.

I'd feel fairly safe to bet that it was Etsy who approached her, to utilize her sales to try to up the IPO price, and to lure new sellers to their very poorly run site.

The staff running Etsy are just NOT TOP SHELF. It is what it is, and has always been that way.

It's a pity, but indicative of the declining self confidence and declining accountability of American businesses, that has been devolving ever since the late 70's early 80's.

The money changers are firmly entrenched, and is the main reason why Trump is doing as well as he is with his political bid.

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 4 06:59:12 2015

As I buyer, and not a crafter or artist, I appreciate the action Etsy took and I have no doubt that the sale of identical items mass produced in China was well-verified. The shop owner got the exposure & growth she needed to launch her own site and very cheaply got it at that. I don't think that is fair to buyers or handmade crafters, but nothing fuels complaints like a million dollars in sales. The reason I appreciate Etsy's action is that I don't WANT to buy cheap Chinese mass-produced junk. I don't want my US dollars to go to China because of my own "policy" concerns. So good for Etsy.

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by: GraceBritt This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 4 09:42:45 2015

I wrote the controversial blog How Etsy Raped America, the blog focused on two issues. One was Three Bird Nest, their wretched reviews, availability of 200+ of each item and obvious reselling of first made in China, then made in India.
The second issue, and one that continues to tank sales for all Etsy sellers was the IPO and Chad Dickersons decision to plump up his company's attractiveness by putting the brakes on marketing expenses. Suddenly my sales, and other Etsyan's sales plummeted, and have never recovered. I am at 25% of what I used to sell, so much so that I don't list new items, I'm just trying to get rid of what I've got.
Grace and Lace, another company operating EXACTLY the way TBN ran its business, got smart and skittered over to Amazon's new "handmade" marketplace, which will soon be tainted exactly like Etsy's handmade because they too do not seem to care about the authenticity of their sites products.
Etsy is slowly dying.  Marketing and search engine visibility has slowed to a crawl. Once the company decided to abandon its principles, go public with their IPO and mute any seller who raised concerns, it sealed its own fate.
I'm back in corporate America earning a living the soulless 9-5 way. Not bitter, just very disappointed in how a once booming and authentic site destroyed itself.  

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 4 11:40:44 2015

I know Etsy has mucked things up plenty--I sell there too. But we need to remember that Etsy probably has a million more sellers than a year ago. Of course your sales will suffer.  

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by: DingDong This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 4 13:49:18 2015

I was looking at the BBB.org on the TBN. I was looking at the complaints and that she had some responses that referred to the confusion at the warehouseS.

I keep my crafts in my house, but not a warehouse or warehouseS.

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by: Owen This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 4 18:56:07 2015

Let's never forget that Etsy went public, and now must satisfy shareholders. It's a whole new ball game for them.

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sat Sep 5 08:10:20 2015

Let me get this straight :
People were buying (TONS of) what she was selling.
So Etsy put her out of business.
There's a rash of this cancer happening all across the country.
We need yet another Brand New Online Market Place that caters STRICTLY to entrepreneurs.
That will put Etsy (and Ebay) in its place.
Power to the People.

Also : Ebay has destroyed / chased off the sellers that had my favorite things to buy. Now I can't get the things anywhere.
Stupid Ebay.

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sat Sep 5 10:16:02 2015

And STAY AWAY FROM "WALL STREET INVESTORS".

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