More than 20,000 Etsy sellers are on strike this week, from April 11-18, protesting Etsy’s exploitative polices and the dramatic 30% increase in seller fees. Over the course of the pandemic, Etsy has made a killing in profits for its shareholders by gouging sellers and forcing more experienced sellers into their extortionate "offsite ad" scheme (you can’t opt out if you make more than $10,000 a year on the site.)
2/3 of my sales come from Etsy - the rest are from my own shop, http://www.feralstrumpet.com. I have always thought I needed Etsy to survive financially. It is my ‘day job’ and allows me to do things like eat and heat the house while I write books. (Unless you are celebrity, writing will not earn you enough to live on, even if you have a book deal and terrific agent.) But since 2017, the site has taken an increasing amount of my earnings, and every year I give them thousands of pounds. Can you imagine paying hundreds of pounds a month for something with no actual support from the service? The strike is a way to say, hey, Etsy, you need us. We are the ‘cred’ in your supposedly ‘beloved, trusted brand.’ Without us you are just another marketplace full of cheap, sweatshop made goods and drop-shipping, print-on-demand identikit items.
These fee hikes and exorbitant, non-voluntary add-ins have come during the pandemic – this is plague profiteering, disaster capitalism at its finest. Since Etsy went public, the company has patronised, gouged and ignored the needs of its sellers. Yet it knows who these sellers are, or were before it drove them out of business–the last Etsy census was in 2019. I wrote about that in a previous post where I concluded with false optimism that ‘I hope that this clear picture will enable Etsy to make better decisions supporting its sellers, while I long, quixotically, for a return to the handmade marketplace it once was.’
87% of sellers on Etsy identify as women– Etsy allows a flexible scale for new businesses, allowing women to experiment with possibilities. The census from 2019 also points out that women perform 3/4 of all unpaid care work– meaning that the flexible business model Etsy provides is well suited to women who keep the world turning with their care and kindness.
A significant number of Etsy sellers are also disabled and live in rural, impoverished communities, like myself. This exploitation of our demographic is, well, just plain evil. Seeing thousands of others stand beside me in my outrage has been empowering–and it has also revealed just how many of us are at the mercy of Etsy and this new world of the gig economy.
These are our demands:
1: Cancel the fee increase.
2: Crack down on Resellers.
1: Cancel the fee increase.
2: Crack down on Resellers
3: “Golden” Support Tickets for AI bot driven shop shut-downs.
4: End the Star Seller program
5: Let All sellers opt out of Offsite Ads
How can you help?
- Sign the petition, on Co-worker.org
- Don’t shop on Etsy from April 11-18th
- Shop at sellers indy sites, like http://www.feralstrumpet.com
- Share your favourite sellers’ social media content far and wide
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