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Mon Apr 25 2011 15:12:49

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

By: Ina Steiner

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Etsy is best known for handmade items even though it has a thriving marketplace of vintage goods, and a clash of cultures occasionally erupts on Etsy between the two types of sellers. Sellers of vintage goods feel the site needs to do more to promote them, while sellers of handmade goods say they fear Etsy will be seen as a "flea market" similar to eBay.

Mitzi Swisher of Vintage Goodness, who sells on eBay, Etsy and her own website, was reminded of the culture clash last week when she wrote a message on the Etsy forums that she'd like to see Etsy add a Best Offer feature.

"I have the Best Offer option on almost all my listings on eBay, and it works very well for me and my vintage items, I would LOVE for Etsy to add a make an offer feature, where the seller can choose if they would like to add that option to their listings."

But sellers of handmade goods vehemently opposed her suggestion. The thread spanned seven pages before a moderator reminded participants to be respectful when posting and closed the discussion.

Many of the comments from sellers revealed concerns over pricing as well as having to deal with an increase in messages from buyers making offers.

Michael of Transit Design wrote, "Although I understand the OP's motivation, I would definitely NOT care to see a "Best Offer" option. I don't want Etsy to become an auction site. It might work for vintage, but not for handmade goods. Too many sellers already under-value and under-price their items. And I would not like responding to emails with low-ball offers all day."

I checked in with eBay spokesperson Adam Brown to see if Etsy has ever considered launching category-specific features. Adam said Etsy is very interested in the different needs of Etsy's different types of sellers and it takes note of forum conversations.

"We are not currently planning a "make an offer" type of feature. But as you know, we are always making slight changes and improvements, so down the road we may explore the idea of category-specific tools in an effort to create a more sophisticated marketplace."

I checked in with Mitzi, who also publishes the Vintage List Online Directory. She said she didn't see Etsy implementing different features for the different categories anytime soon, "though it probably wouldn't be a bad idea. Each segment does have different needs, and improvements could definitely be made for all three areas."
 
Another interesting discussion started on Wednesday about Vintage versus Handmade on this forum post. Let us know what you think - can vintage and handmade items coexist side-by-side on Etsy?




Comments (30) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: anyone out there

Mon Apr 25 15:47:38 2011

They can if the people take their egos out of it.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: Robyn
Web Site

Mon Apr 25 16:53:34 2011

Etsy could make so many lives easier, I think, if they did have category-specific features. For instance, I'm almost always stumped as to how to (and why I have to) list materials for vintage items. If I had their ear for five minutes though, I think my pleas would be more about shipping calculation functionality than anything else - which is definitely one area where eBay is superior to Etsy - technologically. I'd be willing to pay more for listing fees for that. Etsy is still a much cooler place to sell, though.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: Nic
Web Site

Mon Apr 25 16:55:56 2011

It's pretty obvious that Etsy doesn't respect its vintage sellers. They barely promote vintage -- even though vintage sales bring dollars and visitors to the site. It's extremely frustrating to pay the same fees, but not get the same level of service as handmade.  

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Mon Apr 25 18:42:56 2011

We *need* a venue that really, really IS a "flea market" and isn't ashamed to say it. The net needs a place where you go to buy JUNK. Real, actual junk.

That's the good stuff.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: gary

Mon Apr 25 18:49:20 2011

I just read the responses to her post and thought people were ridiculous. All she suggested was a button for best offers, like the one Ebay has. There doesn't have to be a ton of conversations going on between buyers and sellers. Just set a price that is acceptable and if its under that price, then Etsy wouldn't accept it.  You wouldn't even have to make Best Offer a choice on your items. She was just saying it should be a choice and it should.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: woo hoo

Mon Apr 25 19:50:43 2011

I'm an eBay buyer and seller and an Etsy buyer (hopefully soon to be seller of vintage goods as I have no talent for handmade items).  Anyway, regarding the ''Best Offer'' feature, I agree with the commenters who would rather not see it on Etsy.  I found it very easy to do the equivalent of Best Offer.  I have, on several occasions, convo'd Etsy sellers with an offer to buy multiple items at a discount; sometimes, some of the items had  been listed for a long time (months!).  Most of the sellers were amenable to my offers and they ended up being a win-win for both.  As with any transaction, both buyer and seller have to go through the negotiations with eyes open and the seller should weigh the pros and cons of moving inventory with a lower margin vs. sitting on inventory that may stay there for another few months and still not be sold.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: Nociam

Mon Apr 25 20:39:53 2011

I don't sell on etsy but do buy vintage on ebay and vintage and handmade on etsy. I guess from this buyers perspective the biggest problem is shops with too much stuff and no strong curatorial decision-making. The artists make the same plea as Mitzi for greater balance of coverage in the 'etsy-window' with, they would argue, the real or perceived bias towards crafters' products.
Certainly it's a nice space to browse but I don't know if etsy have done the stats on whether sales were made spontaneously or whether shoppers knew in advance what they wanted to buy and came to hunt.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: BlackRain4
Web Site

Mon Apr 25 20:43:31 2011

I am a vintage seller on etsy. I'm a member of the Etsy Vintage Market Team. I recently participated in a  VMTeam treasury challenge, that promoted sales from both vintage and handmade shops! Both types of shops 'can' and 'do' grow on Etsy, and we can promote each other! This versus 'thing' is just as detrimental as the racial 'black' vs. 'white'! Shame on you! We need to support and promote each other! Leave the Best Offer to ebay and bonanza! That's whay I'm on Etsy in the first place!!! Also, I am a 'creative' and 'artistic person also...I'm a 'Heinz '57' and proud of it!  :O)

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: BlackRain4
Web Site

Mon Apr 25 21:02:22 2011

I just finished reading all of the comments, and just had to add another 2ΒΆ to the mix! In my opinion...some vintage sellers that 'low ball' prices, help to devalue vintage as a whole...but the true collectors, and appreciators of really good quality vintage items, will go to quality shops! I will continue to price my items moderately, unless I have an extremely rare item!
As to the 'flea market' idea...if you wish to have that type of venue...create one...'If you build it they will come...'!  LOL
Let's keep Etsy growing and evolving, into a reputable quality site, for vintage sellers, handcrafters, and artisans, alike!  :O)
P.S. Yes, I have my own blog! LOL

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: taylorsdreams
Web Site

Mon Apr 25 21:38:13 2011

Hello

we sell vintage; artist designed and made; and artist purchased (on other sites).

I don't comprehend why handmade should object to a best offer. we add that in all of our lisitings for artist designed. If an option were to be added it could be set to reject offers below a certian percentage or amount

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: Hilary Eklund
Web Site

Mon Apr 25 23:46:20 2011

I am a full-time antique dealer, and my etsy shop is one of the venues I utilize to sell. I have had mixed feelings about the etsy vintage scene, and wrote about it recently on my blog.
Personally I have no interest in seeing a ''best offer'' function on etsy. I find that buyers communicate with offers or inquiries if they want to. But a ''best offer'' option might really bring out the lowballers.
Etsy really is marrying two different cultures, with overlapping values and interests, but also with big differences. There's no way to do that without a little friction.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: CL
Web Site

Mon Apr 25 23:56:36 2011

Permacrisis, there IS an online flea market! It's called Craigs List.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: Digby

Tue Apr 26 00:09:18 2011

Etsy must be doing something right.
Its listings are going up steadily by far more than than the other top 3 alts.
And their sales figures according to the chart on this Website the other day are very impressive.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: Watching the Wheels

Tue Apr 26 00:25:48 2011

Well, I'll be! I see that Etsy's Adam has given you the same stock and trade answer, as is constantly "fed" to the sellers, Ina. "He's made a note, of it."

That's about as far as it will get.

I'd settle for search parity, for all sellers, and the shoring up of the numerous exits from any of the given shops.

Etsy concerns itself with Etsy, the sellers, not so much.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: STOP IMPOSING YOUR FAILED INNOVATION ON US JD

Tue Apr 26 07:16:45 2011

So many people putting new stuff on Etsy as vintage, when in reality it is not 20+ years old

And in the tradition of eBay Goon Squad, I have seen Etsy remove some sellers vintage listings with not really one shred of proof that the item is not 20+ years old but they let others stand that are new but craftily worded as vintage

Is Etsy trying to become eBay JR. ?

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: anon1

Tue Apr 26 09:14:08 2011

The culture of hatefulness by some of the sellers on etsy is precisely why I closed my shop and account and will never open another one.

Note to the hateful twits who think their opinions are the only ones that have any validity:  you are the ones who suffer when you act like a 3-year-old throwing a temper tantrum because someone has an opinion differing from yours.

I don't normally ''punish'' an entire venue in this fashion but management did nothing to stop it until page after page after page of filthy hate messages were posted because I asked a simple question.  When I stated that I felt that filthy language was inappropriate, one of them said something to the effect ''We're artists.  This is how we talk.  Get over it.''

I know my customers.  They are mature adults and they don't think that gutter-style and downright filthy language is appropriate in any venue and they are not going to spend their money if they are treated like that.

The childishness there is echoed by the management team.  They need to grow up.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: Money

Tue Apr 26 09:27:28 2011

Arts and crafts is what made Etsy what it is today - just as auctions is what made ebay. Forget your roots, and you're just another Amazon or Craigslist.

The power of Etsy is ART.

If they start focusing on "growth" instead of their market niche, they will fail.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: JMHO

Tue Apr 26 09:37:14 2011

My personal feeling is that handmade and vintage are strange bedfellows and that either
1) Etsy should make vintage a totally seperate division of their site or
2) that someone innovative comes up with a similar website that is totally vintage and that has the same basic format - low cost listing, hooked in to paypal, ability to leave feedback etc... - a site that actually caters to nothing but vintage sellers. Obviously there is a HUGE market for this without involving the ''culture clash'' of handmade vs vintage.

I've often wondered why someone hasnt started a website like that before now....

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Tue Apr 26 10:26:37 2011

Not sure what is so wrong with best offer. Best offers CAN be higher than asking price- isn't that what auctions are?

If you make the highest best offer visible (at sellers discretion of course) you've started a whole new ballgame.

And "best" of all, it doesn't violate the MercXchange Ebay patent.

Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade   Etsy Culture Clash: Vintage versus Handmade

by: taylorsdreams

Tue Apr 26 11:50:45 2011

Etsy could care less about artists either. we reported one person who buys on ebay, sells on etsy as she made the items, charges 10 times or more what she paid for the item, and even uses the pictures from ebay, several times without one response. money is all that matters to most large corporations

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