Etsy, the handmade and vintage e-commerce site that has nearly a million sellers of everything from wool scarves to soap, has struggled with its identity as a mecca for small-scale artisans for its nearly decade-long existence. The struggle was captured in a terms of a service policy that grew to 14,000 words in an attempt to enumerate all of the gray areas in what qualified as “handmade.” Then, in September, Etsy changed its guidelines, allowing sellers to hire help for production or shipping, and even to forge partnerships with manufacturers.
The change has generated some anxiety among artisans who want to preserve the site’s small-scale, human-driven provenance and raised fears that larger sellers would infiltrate, taking a cut of these crafters’ livelihood.
But many sellers, including a number of north country merchants, believe the changes will help creative businesses grow and will perhaps change little about the site, which is expected to exceed $1 billion in total annual transactions this year.
“I think if it’s handmade it’s not going to be an issue,” said Thelma L. Hamilton, who has been hand-crafting holiday ornaments from her Watertown home for more than 20 years. “We’re already competing with worldwide merchants.” [Read more...]