why the shutters are drawn

May 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm Leave a comment

i want to tell you about why my etsy shop is closed today. to read about the protest, click here. to read the funny version of how this all started, click here then read the update here, then read the continuing “legal” silliness here {all at regretsy and worth every hilarious minute of your time}. to read my version of events, keep going.

first, a little history: etsy was started as a marketplace for handmade items, distinguishing itself as a way to connect buyers to makers–not resellers. they later added vintage and supply categories. the goal was to be different than ebay or amazon, offering items that were not mass-produced {unless they were clearly marked as supplies}.

fast forward to today: etsy has become a lucrative business and a well-known name, even getting its own spot on the martha stewart show. who wouldn’t want in on that? but etsy has some staff that–with the assistance of people who flag items as violating the etsy do’s and don’ts–crack down on this behavior. unless of course they condone it, which in a nutshell is why i–along with other like-minded shop owners–am currently upset. {i even wrote a carefully crafted letter to etsy, only to receive a pat reply that they are “continually working to improve [their] clarity on shop policies”.}

so let’s pretend: imagine that there are two people selling purses. both are handmade because hands were actually used to produce them {much as my iphone is apparently largely made by hand}. one shop owner works out of a corner of her living room while her small children nap. she answers emails herself, packages and ships items herself, and sells her goods at a few local fairs. another shop owner runs a small factory and employs twenty people. she designs the bags herself, sources the materials, and hands over the sketches to be made into the final product by her workers.

so who should be able to sell on etsy? i’ve always envisioned it being that first person, or even a small group of people {which etsy would designate a collective} who work together to design, source, and create. but technically, the purses coming out of the factory are handmade. just not my version of handmade, even if –and that’s a big if–the owner is upfront about being a collective, giving credit to each person who helps create the finished product.

the reason my shop is closed today is that i don’t think that the second owner should be able to sell on etsy. because she doesn’t do all the work herself–and pays her workers wages as opposed to them having a share in the company, which is my understanding of a collective–she is better able to compete in this global marketplace and doesn’t need a unique venue like etsy. many of us crafters work another job, or live precariously close to the financial edge to be able to make our wares. we burn our fingers on glue guns, prick them with needles, get them stuck on packing tape. we have small profit margins, we can’t always buy in bulk and keep costs down, and when we take a business risk we take a huge personal risk. i’m sure the factory owner works hard but the fact is that it’s just not the same. i want etsy to honor that.

etsy is a special place. a community for crafters. i’d like it to stay that way.



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