Etsy sellers start a week-long strike over fee hike, other terms: NPR

Etsy raised its 5% transaction fee for sellers to 6.5%.

Mark Linehan/AFP

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Mark Linehan/AFP

Etsy raised its 5% transaction fee for sellers to 6.5%.

Mark Linehan/AFP

Thousands of Etsy sellers – artists who make money selling their handmade goods on the site – are closing their (online) stores all week and striking.

Earlier this year, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman announce That, effective April 11, the company will increase transaction fees 5% for sellers to 6.5%. Silverman said this was done to fund improvements in marketing and vendor tools, among other changes.

Sellers are tired of new transaction fees and other costs charged by Etsy. Many sellers feel that Etsy is intent on putting pressure on independent artists on the platform with these new policies.

In response, Etsy sellers banded together and launch a campaignHe urged other craftsmen and their clients to leave the site for a week in protest. Organizers said more than 5,000 stores have pledged to participate this week.

In a letter sent to Silverman on Monday, the Etsy strikers said, “Etsy has become an absolutely hostile place for real small businesses to operate. On the brink of financial collapse.”

“After giving Etsy two years of record earnings under the toughest conditions imaginable, we are tired, frustrated and ready to fight for our seat at the table,” they added.

This is not a strike in the legal or traditional term. So, there won’t be any actual picket lines. Sellers are not workers, Etsy is not their employer, and they are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act.

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But for Laurie Peterson, a saleswoman on Etsy, the setup feels very similar to the traditional employer-employee relationship.

“Technically, we’re just customers of Etsy because they have a platform and we’re on it,” she told NPR. “But we are also workers to them and they make money directly from our work.”

The teamwork of Etsy sellers is part of a broader wave of workers pushing companies to improve conditions and wages. He. She Comes after days of workers At an Amazon facility on Staten Island, employees at some Starbucks locations voted to join a union.

Sellers say off-site ads and other fees have been hurt

Christy Cassidy has sold Victorian, Gothic, and Steampunk wedding dresses and costumes on the online Etsy marketplace since 2007.

Her product is a niche, but Cassidy found a home on Etsy, which specializes in selling handmade or vintage items. She has been able to make a living making custom dresses for her clients.

That is, until Etsy started making big changes, she told NPR. This latest fee increase comes just two years after there was another spike in transaction fees for sellers.

“It was like feeling like I’m putting more and more work into my shop, and less use of it as I go along,” she said.

Cassidy helped organize the Etsy strike campaign after finding other sellers on social media who were feeling the same way.

Sellers report seeing more distributors on the site and some stores stealing other artists’ designs. Several people who spoke to NPR said they felt Etsy was doing nothing about the complaints they made to the company about these issues.

These independent stores also want to be able to opt out of off-site advertising. These are promotions created by Etsy for specific listings posted online; The cost is paid to sellers once a sale is made based on these ads.

Cassidy said these ads make it hard to know from custom orders what she’ll eventually take home.

“Off-site advertising makes my business completely unsustainable,” she said.

Regulators say more work may be needed

According to EtsyIts site has 5.3 million active sellers and over 90 million active buyers. The company defended the fee structure.

“The success of our sellers is a top priority for Etsy. We are always receptive to seller feedback, and in fact, the new fee structure will enable us to increase our investment in the areas outlined in the petition, including marketing, customer support and the removal of listings that do not conform to our listings,” an Etsy spokesperson said. our policies.”

Nicole Lewis, who runs her own shop on Etsy, has defended the company. She called on artists to raise prices and do other things to cut costs rather than attack the company.

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“If this fee increase is making you nervous, your pricing is incorrect,” she told NPR. “There are a lot of things that sellers can do behind the scenes on their end…that can cut costs dramatically.”

Peterson doesn’t want to do that.

“I don’t want to milk my clients as much as I can get out of them. I feel I owe my clients a reasonable price for them. I want to see my art in the world,” she said. “That’s what it is for me as an artist.”

Sellers who spoke to NPR said this might not be the last of this type of activity by artists on Etsy.

Cassidy said the main organizers behind the Etsy strike are considering turning the effort into a kind of labor organization for independent sellers.

“I’m not sure what to call it,” she said, “but we’re all definitely in common in making that a reality.” “We are all in it for the long haul.”

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