Why Your Etsy Findings Are Slim This Week

Not all sellers support the ongoing revolt

  • Etsy sellers are protesting a hike in fees imposed by the e-commerce site. 
  • The protest organizers said in an online letter that the increase is hurting small businesses. 
  • But some Etsy sellers say that the fee increase should be expected and criticism of the company is unfair.
A crafter looking at a smartphone.

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Thousands of Etsy sellers recently closed their shops temporarily to protest a hike in fees imposed by the e-commerce site, but some sellers say the criticism is unfair. 

The move is a response to Etsy increasing the fees it charges sellers from 5 percent to 6.5 percent. In an online letter, the protest organizers said that the increase is hurting small businesses. However, Etsy seller Naomi Morris told Lifewire in an email interview that she thinks the condemnation of the company is unwarranted. 

"During these times of high inflation, we should expect price increases on everything,” Morris said. “The price increase isn't all that significant, and there is nothing stopping sellers from raising their own prices to offset the added cost. In fact, that's what many sellers have chosen to do.”

Fee Protest

In the letter sent to Etsy, the strike organizer, Kristi Cassidy, called the fee hike "nothing short of pandemic profiteering.”

Cassidy is also taking aim at Etsy's advertising policy implemented early in 2020. The new policy requires sellers making at least $10,000 a year on Etsy and who have their products advertised on Etsy's offsite social media and search-engine partners to pay a 12% advertising fee on sales made through the ads. 

"Thanks to Offsite Ads, Etsy fees are an unpredictable expense that can take more than 20% of each transaction,” Cassidy wrote. “We have no control over how these ads are administered or how much of our money is spent.”

Cassidy is seeking more control over Etsy’s policies. "Unlike employees or tenants in traditional retail marketplace settings, Etsy can fire or evict us at any time, for any reason, with no recourse,” Cassidy wrote. “Our fees (the rent we pay as tenants of Etsy's marketplace) can be unilaterally raised any time Etsy feels like it.”

Etsy did not return a request from Lifewire seeking comment.

Many Etsy resellers Lifewire spoke to agreed with the sentiments raised in Cassidy’s letter. For example, Mariana Leung-Weinstein, who owns and operates Wicked Finch Farm on Etsy, which sells jams, said she initially signed up with Etsy because it felt more like a cooperative than a corporation.  

During these times of high inflation, we should expect price increases on everything.”

"Original policies stated it was a community only for those who made things themselves to sell,” Leung-Weinstein said. “It was the anti-Amazon and offered independent artists an outlet online specifically for those who did not have alternatives. Most artists put too small a markup on their work compared to the hours they put in. Etsy's small percentage fee in the beginning was palatable.”

Seller’s Remorse

Hannah M. Le told Lifewire in an email interview that she used to sell on Etsy. She started with her own embroidered patches, then switched to t-shirts she made. 

"They were really hard on sellers who upcycle because the keywords would raise copyright infringement issues, which is just one of many reasons why so many sellers don't like Etsy and feel forced to use it," Le said. “After a few years, I never ended up selling that much from Etsy. Barely enough to just get by, and I never completely sold every single item I had on there."

Etsy sellers are already struggling to make the sales they need in an oversaturated market, Le said. "Most new sellers take at least three months to sell their first item, which already incurs a listing fee from the get-go," Le added. 

After her frustration with trying to sell on Etsy, Le sensed a business opportunity, She founded RE.STATEMENT, an online marketplace for small businesses or independent designers to sell their upcycled clothing.

Someone browsing an online handmade craft shop on a tablet computer.

grinvalds / Getty Images

"We are proving that consolidated, high demand will give sellers higher margins, the rising prices won't affect their sales," Le said. 

Morris also decided to diversify her sales after spending time on Etsy. She created her own website that sells homeschooling supplies. "You do need to put in a bit more work to start getting traffic and build an audience, but then at least you control your business to a greater extent," Morris said. 

On the other hand, Morris said she’s had a "great" experience on Etsy. "The sales roll in without any effort, and I get paid," she added.

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