Stop encouraging people to discount and undervalue their work

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Original Post

skully says

Dear Etsy,

The handmade movement is already up against so many problems. We as sellers already have so much competition from bargain basement, mass produced items. We already have to fight against the mentality of "stack it high, sell it cheap" that the western world seems to rate so highly. I really don't need Etsy to add to the burden by encouraging us to cut prices, offer free shipping and asking us what offers we are running.

Most of us are so aware of pricing issues and the attitude of the market we are selling in being hostile to paying for quality when they can buy disposable and cheap. Many of us are already pricing within a gnats whisker of not making a profit from our work. We really can't afford to offer free shipping because that shipping price IS our profit.

I don't like you having a "Limited Time Promotions" Gift Guide. I want you to have a "High Quality, worth every penny" Gift Guide. It disheartens me to see you coming in the forum encouraging people to offer free shipping, in the hope they might get featured in said "Limited Time Promotions" Gift Guide. All that is doing is encouraging people to devalue their work and many of them are so desperate for sales that they do it, but they really can't afford to.

The credit crunch and the uncertainty of the money world at the moment are stressing out lots of sellers already. They are ready to panic and do almost anything for a sale.

The fact resellers are not being policed off this site fast enough and even get featured on the front page, the encouraging people to have sales and special offers, the Storque articles about Black Friday Deals that feature people lowering their prices... can you not see that you are encouraging people to lowering their prices so they feel they can get much needed promotion.

Please stop it! Instead of falling into the trap of promoting and celebrating people discounting their goods by offering freebie publicity to them, please push forward the idea of quality, uniqueness, beauty, and attention to detail that handmade sellers here offer. Handmade is not really ever going to compete with mass produced prices and it’s crazy to try and pretend we are, so we need to find sales by promoting and celebrate all that is fabulous about handmade. Sweep away this discount culture from this site and inspire people to move away from the mass produced goods to buying handmade.

I don't want to stack it high, sell it cheap! If I did I'd become an importer of sweatshop goods and sell a couple of thousand units a day, off the back of some poor person paid 1/2 a cent an hour, and probably make a shed load more money. My morality won’t let me do that, so I’ll to stick to selling handmade quality items, and selling them at a fair price for the materials and work put into them.

Thank you for reading
Lynne

Posted at 5:52am Nov 29, 2008 EST

Responses

niftyknits says

Brilliant post skully :-)

Posted at 6:04am Nov 29, 2008 EST

AwShucks says

I think this is a fantastic post, though I have to admit I hadn't yet seen most of the things you're calling Etsy out on. It's true though, the ONLY thing a handmade item can never compete with a mass-produced item on is price. I believe the kind of people who stick around Etsy to shop are the kind of people who understand that, and value the fact that handmade beats carbon-copied in every other way I can think of.

Posted at 6:09am Nov 29, 2008 EST

Even though I sell vintage and supplies, I agree with you! I felt like if I didn't have a sale this week, I'd lose momentum again.

Handmade is so worth every penny.

Posted at 6:15am Nov 29, 2008 EST

Blondheart says

I read this and had to sit and think about it for a while. I am surprised that people are that influenced by the idea of getting into the gift guides.

But then again, I am frequently surprised by people who ask others if their prices are ok because only we know how much supplies and time went into our work.

I did choose to do a sale this weekend, but it wasn't with the goal of getting into any type of promotional thing Etsy has going on. I posted in their thread, but I had already long before decided to do it. I am offering the same sale on my website. I didn't feel that 4 days would cut into my profit margin that much. But I will admit it's my first sale in 28 years. Etsy isn't really aimed at my target audience anyway.

I have kind of come to have mixed emotions about Etsy to be honest. When I first found it I was enthralled that there was a site that was only for artists to sell their work. I thought it was amazing that they would promote handmade items and offer this venue. I still feel that way to a degree, but as time has gone on, I realize that they don't promote all handmade items. There are certain types of items that I run across all the time on here that never see the light of promotional day while other types of items are always being promoted. I think to myself wow, I had no idea there were people selling this or that on here.

But I do agree with you Skully, a lot of people are really underpricing their work. I think a many sellers are new to the world of handmade and do it as a sideline to compliment their day jobs, so they don't realize that they aren't making much if anything. They are just happy to have a few extra dollars. In my case this IS my day job, and I am never going to cut prices too much because I couldn't do it and stay in business. I use German mohair which is over 100.00 a yard, and there is a lot of time spent in making a bear. On the other hand, I don't rely on Etsy for much in the way of sales. So I guess people who do, think they need to cut those prices and offer deals to stay competitive.

Posted at 6:19am Nov 29, 2008 EST

quirke says

This same issue was raised back when admin started the Weekend Deals Storque articles. Some people complained about the particular language used and what it represented. Admin asked for suggestions to make it sounds better (I think "limited time promotion" was one of my suggestions, actually). I didn't even know there was a new Gift Guide called that, I'll have to check it out.

But yes, I agree with your sentiments. Particularly in light of the tragedy that happened yesterday, "discount culture" (an excellent phrase, btw) is not something I want to see promoted here.

Posted at 6:31am Nov 29, 2008 EST

Blondheart says

You know Quirke, you touched on something important there. After what happened yesterday I really lost my enthusiasm for even having a sale. I realize it had nothing to do with me or selling online, but somehow it made the whole idea of sales right now seem almost tainted.

For about five years now I have always made it a point to NOT go shopping on Black Friday and when I decided to do a sale it was in the spirit that people could stay home and stay safe and shop from there and still be treated to a good price. But it seems as if every year now people are injured or killed and it did put a black cloud over Black Friday for me. =/

Posted at 6:43am Nov 29, 2008 EST

Kate Seavey avatar
stuffbykate says

this thread makes me really happy. thanks guys. :)

Posted at 6:45am Nov 29, 2008 EST

I agree. I emailed the Storque asking why they started a "weekend deals" feature.
I'm so happy that the EtsyFAST (Fiber Arts Street Team) challenge for November was to create a "big ticket item." It's been an inspiring challenge.

Posted at 6:51am Nov 29, 2008 EST

TheSilverHand avatar
TheSilverHand says

I love this post. And I'm really kicking myself for participating in the sales and free shipping. Nobody is buying my stuff anyways, and now that the sales thread is published in the Storque, I can't back out of it.
My jewelry is worth the price I lay out for it. I put thought into my prices. And I kicked my worth to the wayside for the mere thought that I would somehow be featured among all of the other talented people on Etsy. And I wasn't featured! Now I'm feeling like an idiot. And to tell the truth, I'm kind of irritated about it.

Thanks skully, for posting this and reminding me of my worth as an artist and a person. I won't forget again.

Posted at 6:56am Nov 29, 2008 EST