Etsy Pros and Cons

Are you thinking about having an off-the-beaten-path shopping experience with Etsy?  We've compiled a list of points that people have given for and against the website.

Pros

  • Join for free -- It's free to join Etsy.  As a buyer, you don't have to pay money to do anything on Etsy until you complete an order for an item.

  • A friendly neighborhood shop -- Most sellers on Etsy are people just like you, perhaps wanting to move some unused relics out of the house, perhaps crafting what they sell in their spare time as a hobby, or perhaps using Etsy to make a living as a platform for their small business.  In any case, there are no big corporate interests here.

  • Rustic or retro? -- Choose which of Etsy's two classes of merchandise you want to browse.  If you want to find something that's a little out of the ordinary in order to complement your fashion or home decor style, or to give to someone as a unique gift, try the "Handmade" class.  Conversely, if you're a collector looking for treasures from 20 or more years ago, check out the "Vintage" class.

  • More than what you'd expect -- In either class of merchandise, you can find numerous categories of different items: clothing, accessories, art, home decor, jewellery, toys, craft supplies, and more!

  • Let the recipient decide -- Don't know what would make a good gift for someone?  You can buy them an Etsy Gift Card instead, and let them pick out what they want themselves!

Cons

  • Curiosities are costly -- Like many online ordering websites, buying from Etsy can get expensive when you consider that sellers can set whatever price they want for an item, and that shipping costs and taxes can cause the price of an item to inflate a bit.  However, that's probably a small trade-off for having a convenient way to purchase things that are difficult or impossible to find anywhere else, and support small businesses and independent artists and craftspeople in the process.

  • Poor organization of reviews -- Etsy groups reviews for every product in a store together, and sorts them all by date.  So when you see that an item has 127 reviews, in reality, this means that people have left 127 reviews spread across all items in a particular store.  This can make it difficult to search for what people are saying about the specific item that you want to buy.

  • Well, SOMEBODY had a "hand" in making it... -- Certain people don't like the fact that Etsy has begun allowing wholesale businesses to partner with sellers on Etsy, in order to help them create their items faster and in greater quantities.  They feel that it goes against Etsy's principles of being about individual connections and handmade creativity, as opposed to corporate mass production.  In the end, though, it's an aesthetic issue that will come down to how much you like what you see on Etsy versus how far you're willing to let the definition of "handmade" be stretched.

The Bottom Line: 8.5/10

Etsy's appeal lies in the fact that there aren't many services out there like it.  Sure, there are well-known websites like Amazon, eBay, and Rakuten.com (a.k.a. Buy.com) that allow people to buy and sell all manner of goods.  But there are relatively few well-known services besides Etsy that have a specific inventory of vintage and handmade items, sold by people like you and their small businesses.  You can look for either "vintage" or "handmade" items (or both), and search by categories including toys, clothing, jewellery, home decor, fine art, accessories, and more.  If you don't know what you want (or what to give someone else) at the moment, you can look into getting an Etsy Gift Card, and then decide later (or let the gift recipient decide for themselves).  And all of it is free until you actually complete an order.  If you're an artist or craftsperson, you can even open a store on Etsy, and sell your wares to the world!

But Etsy isn't perfect.  Besides being a tad pricey (for both buyers and sellers), the way its review system is organized makes it difficult to find out whether people have liked or disliked a particular item that you may want.  In addition, some people feel that, by allowing wholesale companies to help sellers make their products, Etsy has lost its credibility in terms of standing for individual creativity and community connections in the face of big business.  Still, Etsy's a convenient place to find unique items that you can't get anywhere else, or collect rare memorabilia that's hard to come by anymore.

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