The world knows Etsy as a hub for handcrafted and unique vintage items. From clothing and jewelry, to arts and crafts. Behind the products are 5.3 million people who create and sell them — generating billions of dollars in sales. But over the years, entrepreneurs say the e-commerce company has changed…and not for the better.
That’s why thousands of creatives are taking a stand: On April 11, they’re going on “Vacation Mode” for a week. Aka going on strike by suspending their online sales through April 18. And they want buyers to join them. Here’s what you need to know…
Why Etsy Sellers Are Striking
Etsy has lauded its mission to “keep commerce human.” And help a community of entrepreneurs build successful businesses. But in February, Etsy said it would raise transaction fees by 30% amid record sales. Meaning, individual sellers have to pay Etsy more money when they sell an item. The change goes into effect on (you guessed it) April 11. Etsy has said the increased fee is to help the company provide better marketing, customer service support, and tech. But sellers don’t see it that way. Jess Schweitzer of “happylilcanvases” sells custom art prints, stickers, and magnets on Etsy. She said the fee would mean rethinking her product pricing.
“In addition to transaction fees, sellers also incur listing fees, processing fees, and then add on the inflated price to produce each piece — it's a nightmare to figure out how to make a decent profit while remaining competitive,” Schweitzer said.
Creatives are also protesting earlier pandemic changes. Kristi Cassidy, who’s been selling gothic and Victorian costumes on Etsy since 2007, said the Star Seller program has been a point of contention. It was intro’d last year and gives sellers a digital badge for doing things like responding to customers’ messages within 24 hours and providing fast shipping.
“I make a lot of custom-to-order items, and it's sewing,” Cassidy said. “I usually run a backlog of at least four weeks. [It’s] hard for artisan sellers to qualify [as a Star Seller]."
"Then, also just the feeling of having a 24-hour response requirement and no way to set regular off times on the weekend," she said.
Cassidy said she discovered an entire community of Etsy sellers on a subreddit that was fed up with the changes. And decided to organize this strike.
5 Changes Etsy Sellers Want To See
More than 13,000 sellers are getting their 'on strike' signs ready. And are demanding…
Scrapping the transaction fee increase
Ending the Star Seller program
A transparent plan to crack down on resellers (aka people who sell goods they don’t create themselves on Etsy)
Getting faster support service. Sellers say they've been waiting months to get support for computer problems that impact people from “accessing their own earnings, or running their business entirely.”
The option to opt out of offsite ads. Creatives want more control of which listings are advertised, how much of their money is spent on ads, and “whether to advertise at all.” And right now, many say they don’t have that input.
Cassidy said Etsy hasn’t reached out to her directly about addressing their demands. And that what happens next will depend on how the strike goes. But sellers like Schweitzer said even though she hopes to stay on Etsy, she’s exploring her options.
“I am now considering new platforms to take my small business,” she said. “If there's no major change, I don't think I can stay with Etsy and be competitive in the market.”
3 Ways Shoppers Can Show Support
Schweitzer said her customers have been very supportive of the strike. And that it makes her feel like sellers can “make a difference.” Here's how you can show solidarity with the sellers:
Sign the petition. It’s got over 36,000 signatures.
Check out Etsy sellers’ websites. “If you've got a shop on Etsy that you like, just Google their shop name,” Cassidy noted. “If they have a website, it will pop right up.” You can also visit the Etsy Strike website or its Instagram for updates.
Put down the credit card. The Etsy strike petition notes that you can show support by not purchasing anything from the platform between April 11-18.
The Etsy strike is part of a larger wave of workers banding together to demand better treatment and conditions (see: Starbucks and Amazon union wins). And a reminder that there’s always a real person’s time, energy, and creativity behind the product you ‘add to cart.’
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