Monday, May 16, 2011

Etsy 101

A few friends/readers have shared with me that Etsy sort of confuses them so I wanted to give you a little primer on how to shop Etsy.

Etsy 101

The motto for is "Buy, Sell and Live Handmade." It's a website that allows the makers of handmade items to sell their goods in specialty shops to buyers who want a quality, handmade product and who want to support an economy that allows artists, artisans and crafters to make a living utilizing their talents. 

To elaborate, I'll quote my primary source for all e-Information- Wikipedia:

"Etsy is an e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items as well as art and craft supplies. These items cover a wide range including Indie Art, photography, clothing, jewelry, edibles, bath & beauty products, quilts, knick-knacks and toys. Many individuals also sell craft supplies like beads, wire, and jewelry-making tools. The vintage items on the site have only one rule to follow: they must be 20 years or older. These items range from old boots and ice skates, to dresses, hats and scarves. The site follows in the tradition of open craft fairs, giving sellers personal storefronts where they list their goods for a fee of $0.20. It has been compared to 'a crafty cross between Amazon and eBay,' and to 'your grandma's basement.'"

Shopping Etsy

Before spending too much time window shopping, I suggest you set up an account. It's very easy and will allow you to save favorite items or shops into a Favorites Folders. To save an item (after signing into your account) just hover over the top left corner of the item thumbnail until a pink heart appears and click on the heart. That will automatically save an item into your Favorites Folder.

If you have a specific item you want to buy, for example, a wallet, simply search for "wallet" on the search bar. You can use the category listings on the right of the page to narrow your search and can sort by price from low-high or high-low. 

If you aren't sure what you want, or are just browsing you can do so from the homepage by selecting a category and a series of subcategories. For example: Housewares, Bowl, Ceramic. 

If this is your first time playing around on Etsy, I suggest using the Pounce feature, listed on the right under "Ways to Shop." Pounce will pull up a list of just sold items or recently listed items. I like to Pounce on the "just sold items." I have found some really cool things pouncing this way. Remember that the item shown just sold, but chances are another similar or even identical item will be available in the sellers shop. Pounce will show you a few other items still available in that shop as well.

I am not a fan of the "just listed" items because anything can come up here, whether or not it's an item that will ever sell. There are some truly odd things for sale on, as proven by the website Regretsy: Where DIY meets WTF.

A Regretsy Listing

The Etsy homepage offers other ways to shop, such as by color and by zip code to find local Etsy shops/sellers. I like the Gift Ideas feature which will allow you to select a Facebook friend to shop for. The program will read information from that friend's page and make gift recommendations based on information about them. I picked my soon-to-be sister-in-law who apparently likes Abe Lincoln as well as the color hot pink, because here is what it selected for her:

Hot Pink Abe Lincoln from JohnnyVintage

Buying on Etsy 

Buying from a seller on Etsy is very easy. Each seller selects the payment methods they will accept so be sure to read all the information list in the description below the item you want to buy but the easiest method to pay is through Paypal. Shipping charges are always listed on the product description and you will pay for the item & shipping in one transaction.

You can easily email a seller if you have a question about a product or want to request a custom piece. I have found sellers to be very flexible. If you like the item but want a different size or color or personalization just email and ask if the seller can make that happen. 

Things to Remember

These items are handmade, which means they won't be like an item sold in a department store. That could be good or bad, depending on your expectations. When an item has come not exactly how I was expecting I have found sellers to be very reasonable when it comes to find a resolution. I have returned an item before and even received a partial refund when an item didn't hold up after use. Just remember that these are people who are trying to make a living and who want to provide good products and make their customers happy, so they keep coming back for more! 

Just like on Ebay, you can leave feedback for sellers and you can check previous feedback. I suggest looking at their last few feedback responses before purchasing from a seller. You will be taking a risk if a sellers hasn't sold many items before or if their feedback is lower than 100%. (Number of past sales and feedback ratings are listed on each shops' homepage.)

If you have any questions or can think of something I missed that would be a good tip for a new Etsy shopper please feel free to email me at or leave a comment below. Happy Shopping!

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