03 May 2011

Etsy, Regretsy and Resellers

I've had my Etsy store for a few years now, and when I first joined I thought the company and community were fantastic. Handmade goodies everywhere, the admins and crafters were happy and nice, and I felt like I had a fighting chance at selling some of my stuff.

Now, my sales could be much better if I put some more effort into it (and I intend to), but I've noticed a startling trend of late - resellers are taking over. April Winchell aka Helen Killer over at Regretsy brought my attention to it in her fabulously snarky way. It's tough to compete with resellers. They buy cheap stuff from China, Tibet, etc. and jack up the prices until they're similar to (yet slightly lower than) many of the gorgeous handmade products that Etsy has to offer.

For the first time in months, I took a look at the front page Featured Treasury and noticed a familiar pocket watch. Last year I went shopping for Steampunk fob watches on eBay and discovered a multitude of cheap, mass-produced watches. I snatched one up for $5 and planned to someday spruce it up with a Knitted Steel watch chain and sell it as a complete piece on Etsy - focusing on the chain and using the watch as an accent. When I saw the watch in the Featured Treasury (April noticed it too) I decided to explore the seller.

Lo and Behold, I found my $5 fob watch... and again. Look at the prices. Look at the other watches in that shop. There are a LOT of shops like this. Buying cheap bulk items that look handmade and vintage, and reselling them, is against Etsy's terms of use. So why are they promoting this crap on the front page? Why aren't these shops being shut down? Why does Etsy punish those who notice rather than exile those who blatantly ignore the Terms? This community doesn't look so friendly anymore.

Image Credit: Helen Killer, Regretsy.com

Thank you, April, for bringing this to light in such a hilarious and simultaneously serious way. I was nervous to participate in the forums when I first joined Etsy. Now, I'm afraid. I love constructive criticism. I love having a sense of humor. Neither of those seem welcome in that community.

I do like my watch. It's nice, durable, and an excellent addition to any steampunk costume. But you can't have it; it's unique! If you'd like an identical, unique, handmade pocket watch, I've put together this lovely Treasury of my own for you to peruse. Please enjoy. I'll let you know if something happens to my store because of this.

If any of you dear readers out there know someone who knows how to make and maintain a secure online store, please contact me at jules (at) knittedsteel -dot- net. I can't offer much compensation other than product and promotions; perhaps some graphic design?


Self Rescuing Princess Society said...

So frustrating. And you're the second person in my network TODAY to create a treasury filled with the same "unique" items.

I don't consider myself an artist, but I do take pride that every thing I sell was made BY me, from components I culled from various sources, none of which is a warehouse in China.

I have been toying with the idea of finding other places to sell my stuff, but it has already been a hard battle to educate regular people about etsy. (Seriously, there are people out there who have never heard of it, still.)

I have joined a couple of forums and teams on etsy, or related to etsy, and I have to say that each one has a strong rah-rah-our-side-is-always-right vibe (this includes Regretsy, to a point, sadly), which turns me off. I went looking for a sense of crafting community, which they all are for the most part, but not at the cost of me being able to have an honest opinion.

Not everything on Etsy is the Best Thing Ever. Some of it kinda sucks. And far too much of it isn't even real arts and crafts.

Tyson J. Hayes said...

I've been meaning to look into an online store, I'll add it to my to do list. If I find good prices, and cheap start up costs etc. I'll let you know and we can look into spinning off another store front with you.