Etsy; Rainbows & Lollipops or Anything for a buck?

I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

Since I discovered it some years ago, Etsy has been a favourite place of mine to visit. I love browsing all the handmade goodies, both for unique gifts to buy & ideas for things to make, I’ve even found some great blogs via the writer’s Etsy store, but has Etsy become just as soulless as any other business?

This post by Regretsy is a sobering reminder that we need to be vigilant when shopping handmade & cannot rely on Etsy, whether they market themselves as a handmade market place or not, to ensure that the things sold through them are indeed handmade.

It makes me sad that not only do people try to profit from the handmade movement by buying cheap crap & selling it on to unsuspecting buyers, but that the powers that be at Etsy HQ could care less.

I know personally one Etsy seller who was smacked on the hand for a perceived copyright infringement, & being a good seller & conscientious maker she removed the offending listing & carried on, even though she could see others not doing the same, yet they let blatant reselling, FRAUD, and stealing of other seller’s concepts to run rampant.

If you look at it from their point of view, of course it makes sense; the more their sellers list & sell, the more profit they make, so they have no real interest in policing their seller’s ethics; but how can genuine sellers compete on price & quantity in such a huge “marketplace”? One of their excuses for letting this sort of thing slide is that they don’t want Etsy or the Etsy forums to be a nasty place. Other sellers are not to be big meanies by pointing out that someone is ripping you off. That is not nice; they cannot enjoy their cupcakes with pink frosting & penguin shaped cakepops when you do that. So shhh. Let buyers be duped. Let buyers receive something at an inflated price that they could import for peanuts. Let the principles of buying, selling & creating handmade be walked all over.

Even before this sort of thing was brought to light I had been moving from browsing & shopping a lot on Etsy to buying directly from bloggers I know, read & trust; not only do I know that I am supporting their crafty endeavours, but I get something awesome in return that feels almost as though it were made by a friend. I can look around my house right now & point out so many things that I have because of blogging – toys, art, accessories, clothes – & looking at & using these things give me a much nicer feeling than something I bought from someone I don’t “know”, even if it is handmade. (I’m talking strictly about online purchases here – if I buy from a seller at a real market I have similar feel good connotations; the experience, the array of lovely goodies, the memories)

Do you use Etsy to sell? How has it been treating you? Do you buy from there? Is it time to move on & support handmade in other ways?


  1. Food for thought Vic. I will read the link. I have certainly browsed and hubby has asked what the loud "hmph"s are for...they are for things that are obviously not handmade or are rip offs. I haven't seen a lot but given the size of etsy and the limited types of things I browse through, I am guessing that there is a whole lot more.

  2. I saw this post on regretsy. I had pretty much made my mind up not to sell on etsy anymore but think reading these things just confirm it. I have had very little sales over there anyway, and even though the listing fees are much cheaper than ebay, at least ebay don't make grand sweeping gestures of what they want their site to be, and then disregard their own policies simply for profit. I have had people banned from ebay, but have never even had a response from etsy when flagging items or sellers. It makes it really hard to sell over there when you have to troll through all the crap to find the genuine article. Definitely think it's time to move on.


  3. Way to depress me Vic. Though I do hate that sort of thing. I do sell on Etsy (well not much lately to be sure) because I can not always afford the fees at markets 'round here, don't have the actual time needed for markets, etc. But, I do not abide ripping people off! I'm looking into alternatives. Can one sell directly from their blog? I should find out.
    I am off to my thinking spot on the swing...I'll be there awhile.

  4. I have a shop on etsy (http://SewWriteCreations.etsy.com) - shameless plug, tyvm! - and my sales & views have hit the skids this past month. Don't know why - don't even care why, just want them back up where they were in Jan & Feb!! We spent our 2nd winter in the Rio Grande Valley, in a 55+ campground, and I did ok thru person-to-person sales there, and at the craft sales we made a buck or 2, but we won't be returning next year, so I don't know where the sales will come from. EBay is cumbersome & expensive compared to etsy, so I'm beginning to seriously think of hosting my own website & shop.

    You buy from me, knowing you are helping support the pups & other charities, and at the same time, be confident that my stuff is handmade! Thanks for bringing up the topic & exposing the fraud!


  5. I sell my "genuine handmade" items on etsy and have done for years. I agree there are a lot of re-sellers and I have seen in the forums where etsy has responded by closing the shops only to have them reopen a few days later under a differnt name....? What can be done? who knows. Its like me getting a bee in my bonnet about the use of the term organic. It use to shit me to tears that people would call things organic that aren't when my fabric is 100% certified organic, but who cares? No point maoning about it, I just get on with it.

    And I know this for sure. If it wasn't for etsy i wouldnt ever have started even thinking about handmade items like I do now, or craft or making things again or blogging or anything....I wouldn't have started making those baby fisherman pants then softies etc etc etc all those years ago, the day I discoverd etsy/ handmade/ blogs it is not undestating it to say it changed my life.

    Etsy has enabled people like me who work in "serious" jobs to pursue their creative side when they are not at work and because it is all online i can do it when I find the time- unlike markets where I have to be at a certain place at a certain time with loads of stock. I also have a husband that works lots of weekends.
    Etsy is a business first and foremost. I think they do there best. I think it is not perfect but i think it is perfect for me. I still do pretty much all my shopping on etsy- for gifts or just for cool stuff for our house etc... I still am amazed at the high quality of things that come up on there, i think you just have to look at the shop , read the profile and decide for yourself if you think the seller is genuine.

    I see the forums full of people moaning about etsy and it just annoys me- I have always had emails answered within 48 hours and I have found all the satff really nice. I love the lovely messages people send to me when they buy something and that we end up following each others blogs and stuff simple from buying from each other or doing a trade.
    Sorry I have written a blog post in your comment section Vic but Etsy is close to my heart and I am watching a long held dream of mine come true because of etsy- making a real proper actual living from what I make. It would never have happened without etsy and I am sure I am not the only one that thinks so. xx
    Thanks Vic.

  6. I love that Cath; "...not perfect but perfect for me..."

    I guess it's like anything else: it has it's good points & it's bad points, but I really think they could manage things like this reselling business better - why can't resellers be called out in the forums, for example?

    As another commenter mentioned, if they are going to make grand statements about being a handmade marketplace, they should at least make some effort to ensure that what is being sold as handmade actually is. When shops & sellers are flagged, they should be looked into & closed if necessary. If they reopen, they should be closed again.

    I still enjoy browsing Etsy & if I found something amazing I would still buy it, although now I am more likely to want/buy within my bloggy circle.

    I still have pipe dreams of an Etsy store myself (..just as I have dreams of playing the guitar, being a size 10 & learning German..), which may go some of the way to explaining why their attitude, or percieced attitude, frustrates me. I want them to be the great place I always thought they were & help their sellers to help them make Etsy a pleasant experience for everyone involved; buyers & sellers alike.

  7. I tend to buy from bloggers/businesses that I know, and usually buy direct to that the seller can save on listing fees.

    I opened a big cartel shop recently because it feels a little more individual to me.

    I don't know what the answer is, but it's definitely buyer beware!

    BTW those notebooks on regretsy were really ugly!

  8. I'm not a great buyer anywhere except the op shop but I totally agree with a site that markets itself as handmade should be just that. While forums may not be the way to go for pointing out the nasties the big bosses should still deal with the ethical problems. Deleting accounts of wrongdoers would definitely teach others to be more honest. Cherrie

  9. I've been having your exact dilemma lately, and for the same reason (regresty pointing out the not so nice side of things). I really struggle with this, because I have loved etsy for such a long time.

    I can remember 4 years ago wanting to sell some old stock from a friends defunct shop, and realising it didn't fit the etsy definition of "vintage" or "supplies" and so not listing it. Only to realise there was masses of the same stuff on there from other sellers.

    I really feel that with etsy's growing success comes an increased responsibility for the etsy team to actually police its stores vigilantly for shops that don't comply with the rules. I suspect that their failure to do this is going to be their own downfall. There was a time when search results would turn up a reasonable percentage of items of interest. As that percentage drops and the number of uninteresting, unoriginal, rip off and resale items outweigh the good, people's desire to shop will fall. Combined with the every increasing number of items competing for attention, I don't know how sellers get their items found these days.

    I really hope etsy lift their game, I'd be sorry to have to move on from it.

  10. Thanks for this Vic. I hadn't heard of this before and had wondered how they kept track of what was 'handmade' or not. A lot to think about and be aware when purchasing. xo m.

  11. Like Curlypops, I try to buy from makers directly to help them save on fees. I especially make an effort to look up a maker if I see their stuff in a shop, because if they're selling directly at the same price as their goods are selling in shops I know they're making twice as much from direct sales.

    I browse Etsy sometimes for inspiration, not only for things to make (personal use only) but also if I'm looking for gift ideas to buy locally. I prefer to buy from madeit.com.au as it's local or browse market webpages to find a maker selling exactly what I want.

    What was my point? I haven't had much to do with Etsy but wanted to hear the sound of my own voice.

  12. I like buying from bloggers too - and being able to say "I bought it from a friend"... but I hadn't thought about all these issues before. Thanks, Vic x

  13. I've been selling on Etsy for 3 years and it has really changed, mainly because it's so huge now. It's really impossible to compete and this has been my worst year so far even though I've spent heaps of time promoting. It used to be like a great little handmade community of friendly people - it's really different now and I'm thinking of just closing up rather than pay money to stay there.

  14. i'm over etsy. i've let my shop run out and i don't want to re stock it. think i'll move over to made it (and it's aussie, so that's cool). there is So Much definitely-not-handmade stuff on etsy, i just can't believe it! makes me want to throw up.
    thanks for the link, and good to see i'm not the only one peeved off by this.


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