Etsy vendors form a union after the strike

Illustrator Alex Kittle puts his Etsy store in “holiday mode” as part of a week-long strike backed by thousands of vendors.

Alex Kittle

In late February, Kristi Cassidy signed into Reddit and called for action against individuals selling their products on Etsy.

A day earlier, Etsy had announced a 30% tariff hike. For Cassidy, who has been selling gothic wedding dresses on the e-commerce site since 2006, the decision was seen as an insult to small businesses.

“On April 11th, I wondered what would happen if many sellers started their stores on holiday Etc. [freaking out]”Cassidy wrote.” Then they had no choice but to negotiate To us. “

Cassidy’s Reddit Post began a week – long Etsy vendor strike on Monday. Thousands of Etsy vendors have been putting their digital stores in “holiday mode” in protest of the tariff hike. The online petition outlining their demands had more than 77,000 signatures as of Thursday evening.

According to the company’s website, Etsy has 5.3 million active sellers on its site.

The tariff hike comes after a period of tremendous growth for ETC. The company was a huge success during the Govt epidemics as consumers flocked to online retailers to reduce store trips. Etsy sellers have generated $ 12.2 billion in total sales in 2021, compared to $ 5 billion in 2019.

Etsy, known for its handmade and customized products, initially saw the arrival of shoppers looking for masks. Now, while competing with e-commerce players like Amazon and eBay, Etsy is trying to get them back on the site.

Etsy told investors in February that additional revenue from the tariff hike would be reinvested in various initiatives in the company.

Raina Moskovitz, CEO of ETC, said the company was “determined” to support retailers and grow their businesses.

“We always accept the seller’s views. In fact, the new tariff structure will enable us to increase our investment in the areas outlined in the petition, including marketing, customer support and removal of lists that do not meet our policies,” Moskowitz said in a statement.

Investors and analysts overseeing the company praised the tariff hike and other recent changes. Cugenheim analyst Seth Sigman acknowledged that sellers may incur higher costs, but that changes should ultimately benefit “everyone on the platform” in the long run.

“We appreciate the concerns of the sellers. This is their livelihood,” said Sigman, who recommends buying Etsy shares. “But Offset is using this as a lever to reinvest in the business. Our view is that this will ultimately lead to strong market share gains.”

Rising rates and resellers

Cassidy and other Etsy vendors interviewed by CNBC said they were skeptical about whether the tariff hike platform would translate to improvements. The company last raised the transaction fee from 3.5% to 5% in 2018, and the pay is very low, Cassidy said.

In addition to transaction fees, Etsy sellers must pay listing fees, payment processing fees, and shipping fees. As part of the company’s offsite advertising program, ETC vendors will be charged an additional 12% to 15%.

“With the latest transaction fee hike [other fees]It makes it harder for small creators to make a profit and make their business sustainable, ”said Mary Hart, who sells needles, beauty and the arts at her Etsy store.

As part of the weekly strike, Etsy vendors are urging the company to cancel the tariff hike, exit from offsite advertising and end a recently launched program called Star Seller.

Soudabeh Rouhandeh, an Etsy seller

Southape Rahante

“As a small indie creator who designs and hand-makes my products and clothing, I lose hours and money using ETC,” said Soudabeh Rouhandeh, who runs the art and clothing store Sudibear.

Some senior Etsy sellers are calling on the company to take action against resellers, which they say could hurt the market.

Alex Kittle said he has been noticing the arrival of mass market products and dropshippers since he became an ETC dealer in 2010. This change feels detached from the look of the ATC, which is often ordered as a platform to showcase a variety of handicrafts, he said.

“Mostly, I found this to be a great place to reach out to a fun and select community, friendly sellers and buyers and customers of my type (often a little nerdy or alternative in their tastes),” Kittle said in the email. “Over the past few years, it has expanded to include large businesses, drophippers, resellers and fraud stores.”

Etsy CEO Josh Silverman told sellers in February that the company expects to dedicate more resources this year to removing lists that violate its policies. In 2021, the company announced that Etsy would spend $ 40 million to expand teams and technology focused on market security.

Nicole Lewis, who has been selling handcrafted crayons at ETC for 15 years, said she did not agree with the strike’s prototype. Etsy merged CNBC with vendors not participating in the strike.

Lewis did not blame ETC for raising transaction fees, but said the recent changes were necessary for many markets to grow.

“Many OG vendors who are upset with Etsy see it as the Etsy of 2004, 2005, 2006,” Lewis said. “It’s not that, it’s not possible anymore. In the world we live in today, when so many people are looking to sell their jobs, we are competing with Amazon.”

Etsy Vendors Association

Cassidy said he did not expect the vendor strike to start like that.

But after contacting vendors through the strike and realizing that they shared many similar concerns, she and other Etsy vendors began to think about whether to form a union.

“The crazy thing is, I don’t realize how many people out there who agree with me,” Cassidy said. “It’s this tremendous, eye – opening experience to see how much everyone else on this platform agrees and tries to live with me and how much my clients support me.”

Etsy sellers are not employees of the company, but they believe that by coming together, they can better advocate changes in the online marketplace. Many ETC vendors have joined the Discord server, where they plan to streamline plans, Cassidy said.

Although Louis did not participate in the strike, he said he supported the vendors’ idea. “I honestly think this is a brilliant idea because people want to be heard and recognized,” he said.

Etsy’s representatives did not respond to a request for comment on vendors’ union plans.

Cassidy said he was encouraged to streamline ATC vendors after seeing recent union successes at Starbucks baristas and the Amazon warehouse.

Labor activity has increased across the country since the onset of the epidemic. Tightening of the labor market in the United States further boosted support for unionization, and workers seized the opportunity to demand higher wages and better returns from their employers.

Cassidy said he had been in contact with labor groups since the strike began, raising the issue of organizing vendors. Any next steps will reduce what the sales community wants, he added.

“We don’t know what to call this,” Cassidy said. “Is this a union? Is it a handmade slash vintage resemblance? What do we call this? We do not really know what it is like, because we are navigating unnamed territory.”

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