This is an editorial. It is pure, unfiltered opinion. Please understand this before continuing.

I got a little disillusioned with Etsy this week when I discovered that apparently their claim of being “Your place to buy & sell all things handmade” isn’t entirely true. Particularly the “all” part as a large percentage of the items on Etsy are not handmade in the least but rather your garden variety used items.

For example, did they hand-stitch this lot of He-Man action figures?

What pottery class student created this detailed Knight Rider Board game?

I guess I experienced some pretty hard disappointment when I realized that not everything on Etsy was homemade, particularly when they claim that is the whole point of the site. I am happy to pay extra to support an independent artist for an original creation, but when I find out that the necklace I was admiring in your store is actually not handmade at all but instead was mass produced factory costume jewelry from 20 years ago, the credibility of everything on the entire site takes a hit. Especially since not every seller is very upfront about this.

Apparently, there is a loop-hole in their site terms that states that you can sell vintage items of over 20 years old. People are taking advantage of this to sell items of any age, even ones with no relation to Etsy whatsoever. I can understand selling vintage jewelry for others to use for spare parts. But I am having a hard time applying that logic to a lot of what is up there (toasters? “vintage” cell phone cases?)

If Etsy’s fees are cheaper or you prefer the experience to eBay or Amazon, then I cannot fault you as a seller for taking your vintage toys, movie posters, video games, etc to Etsy and taking advantage of this loop-hole. I am all for following the profit and the best deal. But I cannot help but fault the marketplace for misrepresenting itself and for letting people who sell “vintage” items dilute the marketplace for the people who are legitimately selling homemade items.

I’m sure people will disagree, but to me, this feels very underhanded. To call yourself the place for “all things handmade” and not have all your things handmade is dishonest, in my opinion. As a buyer, I feel a little bit distrustful now whenever I see an item I like because I can’t be sure that its actually handmade which seems counterproductive to the point of the site. The only thing that is there to help you is if the item is tagged vintage but this is shaky ground because a lot of honestly handmade items are tagged vintage as well because they have a vintage look or vintage parts.

Understand that I am not angry at the Etsy sellers. I am angry FOR them. I feel like this vintage stuff casts an unwanted aspersion on the real handmade merchandise. It just feels, to me, that it has no business being in a marketplace of artists and is just a ploy by Etsy to catch the leftover eBay crowd.

I have to pose these questions to the Etsy using community because I honestly have no idea. I have never sold on Etsy (silly me, I assumed I needed to have something handmade!) so I’m not well versed on its history.

  • Was it always like this? Did it start out as a marketplace only for the handmade and then, in an effort to compete with eBay et al, they let the other items in? Or has it always been this way? (ie, a marketplace for everything but with an emphasis on handmade)
  • To what extend does Etsy enforce the rules?
  • There are a lot of copyrighted images on items on Etsy, do they do anything about those or is it informal?
  • Do they seem to be moving to more of a free-for-all eBay-like format and getting away from the handmade?

I’m not trying to upset anyone with this post, but I would like to know what other people think, especially people who have bought and sold on Etsy before. To me, I just feel like someone just told me the doughnut I was eating is made of clay so I am a little thrown off balance.

Does the fact that the marketplace for everything handmade sell so much non-handmade things bother you?

Were you even aware this was the case?

Am I just over analyzing this?

Note: I have a friend of mine who is an Etsy seller who will be guest blogging within the next few weeks all about Etsy. Please understand that my opinions are not hers in anyway. I was just doing so shopping on Etsy today, discovered this and was upset enough to write a blog post about it. Understand that I have nothing against Etsy sellers and love a lot of great stuff on that site. I just wanted to get a feel for what people thought about this.

If you all tell me this is fine, normal and doesn’t bother you at all, heck I will even do a post on how to sell your vintage toys, toasters, cell phones, etc on Etsy. I just wanted to know what the general perception of this is.