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Mon May 7 2012 12:42:02

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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The latest uproar in the online selling world is not on eBay this time, but on that haven of all things handmade, Etsy. Dubbed "Protesty," a group of Etsy sellers in support of keeping only handmade items on the site, is planning to put their Etsy stores on "vacation" mode on May 10 to show their disapproval of Etsy allowing non-handmade listings on the site.

They have their own Facebook group, "Handmade Solidarity," and there's a discussion thread on Etsy itself with sellers worrying about the repercussions if they do decide to put their shops on vacation. There have also been posts on the Etsy-goofing site regretsy ("Where DIY Meets WTF"), some here,  in the category "Not Remotely Handmade."

But Etsy sellers seem to be of two minds on the discussion thread: one that Etsy should not be looking the other way when mass-produced or non-handmade items are allowed on the site, and others that Etsy needs to do what's best for Etsy, and that its growth helps all sellers on the site. "Abitmiller," who does create handmade items, protested that "as a business that is about to expand, I worry that all the negative feedback about hiring people to work with you would equate a limitation on how much my business can grow. I sometimes do bulk orders for businesses, and I am getting more requests for these purchases. Do I have to turn business down if I hire more than two people to work with me to keep within people's terms of what should be here?" she wrote.

And Trishia Jacobs-Carney of Etsy shop FrenchKissed felt that Etsy was not being clear in communicating about what the repercussions might be for sellers who joined in the protest by putting their shops on vacation. And other sellers worried that they would actually be on vacation May 10, and how that might be misconstrued.

The foofaraw was kicked off when Etsy featured an alleged reseller, Ecologica Malibu, on its Etsy blog. Some Etsy sellers and regretsy claimed this seller was actually reselling  reclaimed wood furniture pieces imported from Malaysia, according to the dailydot.com.

Some of the brouhaha is explained in former Etsy seller Nicole Hanna's blog post about how she received an email from Etsy's Trust and Safety Team about how some of her content on Etsy was is in violation of Etsy's policies, and they were temporarily suspending her account. (Hanna had written, "Shop contents are currently unavailable while I work on re-branding and movement of merchandise. I support artisan and hand-crafted goods and, as such, believe a show of solidarity, support and praise is necessary to encourage small business owners in the continuing herculean endeavor to survive in a world of commercial mass production. I urge consumers to support the artisan marketplace and creative community in general and appreciate your interest in my work. Thank you.").

One of Etsy's policies states that "You may not use the public areas of your account to demonstrate or discuss disputes with others or with Etsy."

What do think about the protest? If you sell on Etsy, do you support it? Or would you worry if you participated in it, there would be repercussions for your shop? As a buyer, would you participate in it by not buying from Etsy on that day?

And, perhaps the biggest question in all this, should Etsy allow non-handcrafted items on the site? And where is the line between non-handcrafted and items that a handcrafter contracts out to helpers to expand her or his business? Post a comment here!





Comments (17) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in

by: Susan Averello This user has validated their user name.
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Mon May 7 13:39:57 2012

Why even bother? It's less than 3000 selers, Etsy won't notice, buyers won't notice. Even if you are bold enough to put up an announcement, buyers won't see it since you have nothing to search for.

It's real easy to put your shop in vacation mode for a day. Big woop. Etsy doesn't care one way or the other but if these sellers really don't want to sell there, there are other places to sell. None of them are perfect.

Personally I am concerned about the health of my own shop. Regardless what sellers think, most buyers or even most sellers don't read those blogs or actually care about resellers. I sell handmade myself and I've found most people just want a goog looking item at a fair price.

It sucks that Etsy featured a reseller and defended it as well by saying it's a collective but Protesty isn't going to change anything

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in

by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 7 18:52:05 2012

I sell vintage items on Etsy and have been doing well. Whats wrong with bringing traffic to Etsy ? As long as its not cheap dollar store type junk or not-so-special consumer goods. Buyers can easily choose whether they want handmade or vintage items.

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in

by: mclovebuddy This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 7 20:37:14 2012

i think sellers should do what they feel is right.

i don't plan to participate. there's too much grey area there and my read on it was that etsy had to support this person after making a boo-boo. plus, the shop did pass the muster after an initial investigation.

etsy threatens people all the time and it's not consistent so i would say it's a matter of standardizing operational procedures a little more and not letting some of the more obnoxious admin get away with too much (read - there should be repercussions for their constant screw ups and not coddling).

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

This user has validated their user name. by: TheCheapSkirt
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Tue May 8 22:56:43 2012

I would imagine someone large enough to hire staff to mass-produce their items is ready to move on to their own site at that point.

Or I'm sure eBay would love them. ;-)

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

by: WhoKnewIt This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 8 23:27:43 2012

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Etsy belongs to Etsy, not to the Merchants there.  Etsy can do whatever it wants with it's own website.  We may not like what they are doing but it is theirs to do what they want.  If you don't like what is happening there, leave.  Don't provide them with additional income coming from your shop.  But, while your shutting down your shop remember what is out there to move to!  Not much!  Who has that kind of web presence...Ebay, Bonanza etc.?  Sure, but I can guarantee you they are no picnic either.  Or maybe you'd like to land on a website like 1,000 Markets...that used the Merchants to build the site, drive traffic to it and then you wake up one morning to find you've been "sold" to a different website.

Nothing is perfect, if you want perfection build your own website, do your own advertising, drive traffic to it....and in your "spare time" you might have a minute or two to actually create something.  

I understand why people are upset but they really shouldn't be...it's business...if you can't take the heat better find somewhere else to cook!

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 9 00:33:49 2012

I have noticed lately, that a lot of Chinese and other Asian items are on Etsy, coming in via Europe and stated to be handmade. Hair decorations, wedding items, quilts, scarfs, etc. Of course, they are hand made by men and women who get a dime or nickle for their time and work. Either you sell real handcrafted items by individuals or small co-ops, or you join the ranks of other online sellers and sell imported junk. All Etsy needs to do is is make the person selling the item, give a Country of Origin and state the item is factory or mass produced. Assembling the item or ironing it, does not mean you can claim to have produced it. That way, those buyers who don't mind buying mass produced items from Asia, India or other Countries, including the U.S., can buy whatever they like  and those who want actual hand made Mom & Pop items, can buy what they want. Any other way, is Fraud on Etsy's part to claim their items are not mass produced, when clearly they are.  

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

by: Roselachapelle This user has validated their user name.
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Wed May 9 00:41:14 2012

I sell handmade rhinestone wedding jewelry.  The problem in this category - besides the fact the new Etsy Wedding site seems to have driven buyers away  - is that sellers buy wholesale cheap jewelry and jewelry components from overseas and call them handmade.  They can sell them for next to nothing, under cutting the honest seller.  It;s incredible how much of this goes on.  This stuff cheapens the site and hurts all of us.  

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

by: Solveig This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed May 9 00:53:26 2012

My etsy shop, SavonsFrais, had steady business up until a month ago and then things have practically come to a screeching halt. I figured it was because etsy is doing what ebay does: bumps smaller shops in the search for larger, more profitable shops = bigger bucks for etsy.

Also I have been seeing a LOT of vintage items. Clothing that claims to be from the '50's but looks like someone bought a 1950's sewing pattern and sewn the item up with new fabric and claims it is over 50 years old. Weathered redwood planters, claiming to be ''vintage'' which probably is only 10-15 years old, not the required 20, to name a few.

In fact, everyday, there is predominantly ''vintage'' items on the site's home page. I wrote them to say is etsy the place for ''all things handmade'', ''I have taken the handmade pledge'' or is it now the place for ''all things vintage''.

Incidentally, I have read somewhere about a year or so ago that Meg Whitman had been given a position as one of etsy's board of
directors. Hmm....  

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

by: marcellina This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 9 01:18:29 2012

I'm so sick of hearing about vintage vs handmade and the mass produced item accusations on Etsy! I don't know why Etsy doesn't make a category for the things that are not vintage or handmade and be done with this tiresome argument.  Snitching, policing, outing sellers, discrimination, threats, unjust closing of shops and all the cruelty and general unkindness that goes on over there would finally be put to an end.  

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

by: Solveig This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 9 04:44:56 2012

@marcellina,

Amen to that.

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

by: go-figure This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 9 06:24:11 2012

@marcellina - Hear, Hear!!!!

I find the "vintage" category to be laughable at times. There is a ton of contemporary, mass-made items being sold as vintage there when it's plainly obvious that they are not.

Looking at it from Etsy's perspective, they have the opportunity to become the 2nd Largest site behind Amazon (bypassing eBay) assuming that they can find a way to split handmade from non-handmade items and quit doing the things that piss off their sellers (ala eBay). Sadly, Etsy seems to struggle though with that. They allow some non-handmade shops to thrive yet boot others off without much of an explanation (drop shippers abound on there even though they're not supposed to). Look at their new CC payment program (hey, I'm all for anything that gives me another option than PreyPal). They don't price it competitively (3%, really???) plus they sit a 10 day hold on new customers (claiming that it's for the sellers safety (again, ala eBay)), plus a 3 day hold on every transaction. And just where does one suppose that all of this money is being held? In interest bearing accounts of course (hmmm, sounds just like PreyPal doesn't it).

So face the facts here people. If you want to sell on Etsy, you've got to bend over and accept what happens. If Etsy was smart, they could expand their business and surpass eBay. Sadly though, they seem to be following way too much of eBay's strategy of "sellers be damned".

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Wed May 9 08:53:13 2012

I think the biggest problem on Etsy is the imported/drop-shipped junk masquerading as handmade or vintage. If Etsy could fix this, it would go a long way. Not sure how they could do that effectively, though.

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

by: mrsc5inla This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 9 09:28:11 2012

I think Etsy needs to clarify on mass produced.  For years I was listing blank onesies wholesale to Etsy sellers.  One day out of the blue, I got an email to remove my listing even though they were listed as supplies.  

I have to admit I was a bit confused as to why but removed it.
Many sellers were purchasing the item, customizing it and reselling on Etsy.  I guess this is one case of them shooting themselves in the foot, but after all it is their site.

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 9 14:16:12 2012

I shop at Etsy and have over 1000 purchases. I have stopped buying there because I like vintage jewelry and the category is just full of new Czech pieces, among many others. But I will say that Etsy sellers are wonderful about allowing returns. It used to be a super place for the unusual and STILL has wonderful crafts.

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 9 14:29:14 2012

One other thought--agreeing with Marcellina--sites like eBay and Etsy need to understand that one size will never fit all. Instead of categories, they need different venues for different sellers. A bulk reseller (say, with colorful odd  Malaysian furniture made by ''4 carpenters'') should be able to sell, but not sell as unique and handmade. I don't believe designed equals hand-crafted. Small sellers of unique items should not have to live by rules that are intended to control/police large sellers...and so forth. I have a feeling this management is going to try a Netflix strategy any month now :)

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

by: indent This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 10 10:55:50 2012

someone mentioned that it was a boycott on the forums and the protestors completely denied it. why are they boycotting their own business on a platform where often times, sales comes directly from google search or other social media sites.  

they're all competing on the wide open internet, anyway.

etsy can be etsy.  they have some long running problems with practicing what they preach on a quite a few fronts... so... why take them personally and then hurt your own business.

every other selling venue that these "protestors" want to go to is about as bad or worse. dumb, dumb, dumb.

Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?   Should Etsy Sellers Close Shops in 'Protesty' over Non-Handmade?

This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Fri May 11 11:04:33 2012

They named their thing 'Trust And Safety' too? Really guys, after all that happened to those poor people...?

Do they have a ministry of joy too.



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