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We Joined the Etsy Strike – This Is What Happened

UPDATED 10/11/22.

On April 11th, we joined the ✊ #EtsyStrike ✊ by suspending our product listings from the Etsy marketplace in “vacation mode” for one week. In vacation mode, our products can’t be searched, can’t be discovered, can’t be bookmarked, and can’t be bought. For a small mom-and-pop crafter that got started on Etsy in 2009, this is like shooting ourselves in the foot. In this post, we’ll talk about why we joined the strike and what happened.

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What Was the Etsy Strike?

On February 24, 2022, Etsy simultaneously announced both record profits to investors and yet another fee increase to sellers, a perverse combination of announcements that seems rather tone-deaf in this day and age.

The seller community reaction was, understandably, negative, because this 30% increase doubled transaction fees since 2018 — and brought Etsy’s cumulative fees (of which there are several) up to just under 25% while not providing anything new of value. The fee increase was purportedly for Etsy to better perform functions it was already supposed to be performing, in seeming recognition that they have been deficient on the basics already: more customer service support for sellers and more enforcement of resellers who are flooding the site with non-handmade goods.

One seller, Kristi Cassidy, a maker of Gothic, steampunk and Victorian wedding dresses, posted a call to action on reddit, which quickly turned into an organized movement. The first order of business was to create a petition articulating seller concerns, followed by a seller strike and customer boycott the week new fees took effect, April 11-18.

During the week, as many as 28,000 Etsy sellers put their livelihoods in jeopardy and their shops on strike. It’s a small percentage of the 5.3 million shops cited in their press release (a figure which includes inactive shops and non-compliant resellers), but it’s noteworthy that the striking shops were most likely to be the real, genuine, authentic and creative handmade crafters Etsy is known for, and the 5 million figure represents a virally-increasing wave of inauthentic dropshippers and resellers (one of the striker’s complaints). The impact was quantifiable, a drop of about 1% of listings available (in the US at least), as documented in graphs of available listings created by Twitter user @CindyLouWho2:

In response to the strike, Etsy issued a bland prepared statement to the media, which was quoted in all the articles. But that week, at a Wall Street Journal event, Etsy’s CEO seemingly defended his strategy of making Etsy more generic, sharing his intention to make it “an online shopping destination that can compete with Amazon” (which would be antithetical to a small, human-scale marketplace of handcrafted goods in our opinion). Etsy did not respond at all to strike organizers, neither the letter nor petition.

And yet: in 17 days, 30,000 angry Etsy sellers were propelled. They self-organized into an anti-platform activist movement, presented a petition with over 80,000 signatures to the Etsy board, had our stories told by major (and minor) media from around the globe, and brought global awareness of our issues to buyers at whiplash-inducing speeds. Notably, even the original founder of Etsy broke his 7+ years of silence to share his support of the strike:

But was it worth it for us?

Why We Joined the Strike

In order to decide whether it was worth it, we have to look at what our goals were, and whether any of those goals were met. The following were our reasons for joining the strike, posted before the strike began and edited for clarity:

We launched our business on Etsy way back in 2009, and it was a terrific place for a small handcrafter like us to get started selling their wares. But Etsy’s changed, man. They went public with an IPO, dropped their B-Corp certification in 2017, and since 2018 they have: raised fees, laid off hundreds of employees, implemented punitive and unpopular forced advertising and customer service programs, and now — they’re raising fees again, by a breathtaking 30%.

We, along with other strikers, wanted Etsy to make changes to the demands listed in the petition. These issues are our most pressing:

Even if Etsy turns a deaf ear to our demands, we hope that this strike will raise awareness and attention to these problems:

Did We Get Everything We Wanted?

Of course not!

Ideally, there were many things we wanted from a lot of different people and organizations:

In Conclusion

The strike is over, but the movement for artisan livelihoods is not. Since the strike, the leaders of the Etsy Strike decided to form a “union” of sorts, a non-profit advocacy organization called the Indie Sellers Guild. But we don’t want to fight Etsy or try to take on Big Tech or Wall Street. We just want a better option.

That’s why a group of us have banded together to build a cooperative alternative to Etsy, which we’ll talk about more in our next post: a better marketplace for artisans and customers alike.

Media Coverage of the Etsy Strike

Google News stories in aggregate.
(In alphabetical order):

Important Tweets/Social Media Shares

About Walnut Studiolo

Walnut Studiolo crafts original modern designs by hand in our Oregon workshop using only natural materials. We are a family-run company located on the North Oregon Coast. Learn more about us on our website:

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