SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — On Monday, April, 11, thousands of Etsy sellers closed their shops and asked customers to boycott Etsy stores to kick off a weeklong strike against higher transaction fees.
Etsy has served as a marketplace for artisanal and vintage wares since 2005. However, the company has come under fire for cutting into sellers’ profits by increasing fees while it’s already thriving. While the COVID-19 pandemic impacted businesses in a negative way, the pandemic actually did the opposite for Etsy.
In 2020, Etsy more than doubled its gross marketplace sales and in 2021, the company kept that trend and broke its 2020 record by $3.2 billion, according to NPR.
A petition was created by Kristi Cassidy, an Etsy dress seller. More than 60,000 people have signed the petition in protest of the transaction fee that gives Etsy 6.5% of each customer purchase. Etsy proposed the increase in February stating the incremental revenue would ultimately benefit sellers. However, sellers stated Etsy already pocketed sizable chunks of their profit margins through mandatory fees and accused Etsy of pandemic profiteering.
Abby McGrath lives in Springfield and opened her Etsy shop two years ago. McGrath makes abstract statement earrings and started making earrings as a quarantine activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said Etsy in theory is great for creators.
“I know for a fact I wouldn’t be where a was if I didn’t open my Etsy shop,” said McGrath. “I know I wouldn’t have the following or the customer base that I have if it hadn’t been for them. However, in terms of promotion, it is very money hungry.”
If someone searches for Statement Handmade through Etsy, McGrath’s shop doesn’t even show up.
“You have to scroll through pages and pages if you search for my product,” said McGrath. “It’s all based on whether or not you pay to have that extra advertising.”
McGrath is participating in the week-long strike and expressed her frustration with the company’s decision to increase the transaction fee.
“The thing that is so frustrating for me is that they don’t really do anything,” said McGrath. “We pay to ship, I pay 20 cents every time I upload a pair of earrings, every time I make a sale they take a fee which has jumped 30%. I don’t understand why this platform is taking the money and taking advantage of us when they are at their best.”
During the month of November 2020, McGrath made $44, however, Etsy took $28 from that profit. She stated she sees no logical reason for the company to be taking so much of a seller’s profit.
“They aren’t producing the product, they aren’t providing us anything,” said McGrath. “We pay for shipping, we pay to upload everything. I don’t understand why we are having to pay for that in addition to taxes.”
She hopes the strike will help Etsy realize that creators can find other places to go and those creators don’t have to stay on this platform. She said Etsy was probably the only business that benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic and sees no reason for the price increase.
“I don’t get why they are becoming more money hungry and why [fees] won’t go down or stay the same. It’s not like they are employing people to run our stuff. It’s not like they have to pay people. We are the ones who are suffering from it.
McGrath suggests artists and creators who don’t want to support the platform can start promoting their products through farmer’s markets and different festivals. It’s a way to connect with people who enjoy handmade items and a way for customers to meet the person behind the product.
“It’s the fact that someone is there and is excited to see your art and is interested to talk to you,” said McGrath. “It means so much more than when someone buys something from you [through the internet], in my opinion.”