Etsy Handmade, Vintage, Supplies: One & The Same

This blog post is not going to gain me any popularity, but at Rusetsy popularity ain’t what it’s about. Today’s Etsy secret has been pulled from the Supply Category.  Now, I have nothing against suppliers – they are what keep the creator… well… supplied.  But shouldn’t supplies sold on Etsy, with its maker ethos, be an adjunct to artists, not a replacement to artists And shouldn’t those supply shops also be small businesses, not manufacturing and distributing, or large import companies? Or have I totally misunderstood the Supply Category? I don’t know. 

But I do know. I have little patience for those suppliers who so cleverly sneak non-supplies into their supply shops, and definitely no patience for the maker venue that allows this. And make no mistake about it, there are plenty of these non-supply suppliers hitting a range of categories. Perhaps one of the hardest hit are the miniature artists – those amazing artists that skillfully and lovingly handmake everything from books, to rugs, to art, to furniture, to pottery – all in miniature form.

So what is the Etsy stance on supplies?

From What Items Can I Sell on Etsy?  “Supplies. Craft Supplies are raw materials and tools that may be used to create things sold on Etsy. “Ready to use” items do not qualify as supplies.”

From the new watered-down, loosey-goosey guidelines:  “Craft Supplies are materials and tools intended for use in the creation of a new handmade item. ”

Conveniently left out are the word “commercial”, and particular examples from the now defunct Do’s & Don’ts (in part, emphasis added): “A craft supply is not a commercial item that, although it may be used in crafting, is ready to use as is (for example: mass-produced clothing, dollhouse furniture and clothing).” What was once an (almost ) clear policy on supplies has now become obviously and purposely vague and ambiguous.

In any event, from these three sources, Etsy would have you believe its policy is that anything that can be used as is does not qualify as a supply; yet…. one glance at the supply category is evidence enough that this just ain’t so. This is more of the Etsy hypocrisy that says you can’t do this, but we know you are doing it, and we are making money off your deception, so go ahead and do it anyway, until you do something we don’t like, then we have a glaring reason to shut down your shop… and as for those you (and we) are screwing, to hell with them because you, darling supplier, are our top selling category, and we love you much more than those little folks using your supplies… you outsell them a million to 1…

So where does that leave the miniature artists? They must compete with mass-produced miniatures posing as “supplies.” Sounds familiar, does it not? What makes this so egregious is that the supplies are coming from fellow Etsy sellers who are knowingly screwing the artists who would be their customers, but whom they are now replacing.

Well… we are going to call out some of those suppliers screwing the miniature artists. Right here. Right now… let’s talk about some of those supply sellers.

The White Azalea makes no bones about the fact that her miniatures are not handmade; they are in the supply category. Take a look at her supplies. Are those raw materials? Could they not be used as is? So what about the miniature artist who spends hours and hours creating miniatures for the fairy garden?

Fairies Fly By Night, whose products are similar to those of The White Azalea, also lists products in the supply category. Not raw materials, but as is products.

I ask, why waste money in either of these shops, when you can buy much cheaper from a non-Etsy seller?  Or better yet, just clip your coupon and run on down to the local Hobby Lobby, where you will find some of the same items as in this Etsy supply shop, both obviously buying wholesale from this international company.  So, is this Etsy supply shop just a small business? You bet your butt it isn’t; the supply shop directs you to its website, that of Meyer Imports, LLC, “importer and manufacturer.” Interestingly enough, this supply shop has been around since 2008 evidence enough of Etsy’s knowledge of the supply shenanigans.

The supply category has become nothing more than an unsecure border for illegal aliens of handmade; and instead of a Don’t Cross the Border sign, the sign reads Welcome. Didn’t design it? Didn’t make it? Don’t want to get manufacturing approval? Well then, just cross the border and call it a supply. We won’t shoot you. Hell, we’ll sign up you for welfare!

As the artists continue to be pushed out, and the lines between mass-produced handmade, supplies, and vintage blur, there really is no reason for any categories on Etsy. They should just call it all what it is. Mass-produced Junk.


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