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I Am Handmade May 1, 2012

Posted by J. in Genius.
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Of course, hot on the heels of opening my new Etsy shop, I’m participating today in a small protest, which, like most small protests will probably go unnoticed and do nothing. Today, and again on the 10th, I’ll be deactivating my Etsy listings in both shops.

Etsy recently featured a reseller on their front page. That’s prime real estate, and it can boost a shop’s sales and artistic reputation BIG TIME.  A reseller, for those not in the know, is a retailer.  Someone who buys a bunch of mass-produced stuff at wholesale prices–say, a case of steampunk owl pocket watches–and turns around and resells them at a profit.

It’s not illegal by any stretch.  But it is against Etsy’s terms of use.  It’s supposed to be against everything they stand for as a site. And whether they simply didn’t vet their choice thoroughly or if they just turned a blind eye, in any event, a reseller made it to the front page.  She described her process of hand-making furniture from wood reclaimed from Balinese boats.  Only she didn’t mention that they come in from Bali as furniture. They’re handmade, but not by her.  She then claimed to have four carpenters building what she designs.  So she’s a “collective”.

Blah, blah, fucking BLAH.

We’ve seen the proof. We’ve seen bills of lading and letters from her suppliers. We’ve seen the hundreds of pieces she has listed for sale on Overstock.com. This isn’t a case of things not appearing to be what they seem.  This is Etsy behaving dishonestly. Those of us who have been around for awhile have seen them close shops for a whole lot less.

Etsy screwed up, and rather than close her shop and apologize, they said she fits the TOU and now y’all just be quiet about it. So some few thousand of us are being quiet. We’re closing shop and putting up a banner for the day.  Mine say:

All we want is a place to sell the things we make with our hands. Where we don’t have to compete with factory-made goods and cheap items made by sweatshop labor.  If Etsy won’t be that for us, we will be moving. I believe the tide is turning and stores that mass-produce their products will be the norm, rather than the exception.

Already, lots of shops are closing and trying new venues that are cropping up, and some are opening their own websites. I don’t know which direction I’m going. When evenbadgers.com turned out to be less that I’d hoped, I’ve hesitated to move.

So I stay with Etsy for now and hope our combined silence says something.