Etsy is one of my favorite online shops for unique handmade gifts that you can’t get anywhere else. From candles to clothing, skincare products to Yaki wigs, housewares, you can spend hours searching through items created by independent Black sellers from every corner of the globe who showcase their creations on the site. Check out some of my favorite Black-owned shops here. But this week, some of the artists who sell their goods on the site are asking you to put your purchases on pause.
On April 11, Etsy announced that it would be increasing its transaction fees from 5 percent to 6.5 percent. That same day, nearly 14,000 sellers on the online marketplace announced that they were going on strike. For one week, the sellers will place their shops in “vacation mode,” which puts a hold on transactions during the period.
Etsy CEO Josh Silverman said in a statement announcing the increase that the additional revenue from the transaction fees will be used to “make significant investments in marketing, seller tools, and creating a world-class customer experience so we can continue this tremendous growth.” Etsy’s transaction fees are based on the total order amount and applied to shipping and gift wrapping, if the seller charges for them.
“We’re hoping to get Etsy’s attention that we are fed up,” Kristi Cassidy, one of the strike organizers, told Yahoo! Finance. She knows that 14,000 strikers are just a drop in the bucket compared to the more than five million active sellers on the platform. But she believes that the strikers are doing a great job of spreading their message organically.
Cassidy, a Rhode Island-based Etsy seller, started a petition on coworker.org asking Etsy’s CEO to work with sellers by getting rid of the fee and other costs the company is passing on to sellers. She argues that the costs hurt sellers, many of whom are independent artists. Meanwhile, the petition notes that business has been good for Etsy lately. For the past few years, the site has had record sales gains and acquired two other companies in the process. That petition now has over 62,000 signatures.
Etsy says their sellers are their top priority. They say they are open to feedback and have launched a survey to collect feedback on the best ways to support the artists who depend on them to keep their businesses going. “We are committed to providing great value for our 5.3 million sellers so they are able to grow their businesses while keeping Etsy a beloved, trusted, and thriving marketplace,” an Etsy spokesperson told TechCrunch.
But Cassidy’s petition says the company’s talk is cheap. “Etsy can’t bill itself as a folksy, handmade utopia while AI bots terrorize sellers whose livelihood depends on reaching buyers on the platform,” the petition reads.
The sellers plan to be on strike through April 18.