Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

Seller Handbook

In Case of Emergency

Educate yourself on ways to protect your business when unexpected disasters strike.

By Nickey Skarstad Oct 30, 2012
Photo by Cookstah

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012. We've updated the information and links below with information for protecting your business in case of emergency.

When disaster strikes, often routine gives way to necessity as communities band together. With such a geographically-diverse Etsy community, there's no clear-cut formula for how to put the pieces back together, but (as usual) it pays to have a plan. No matter where you run your business, take a moment to read through disaster protocol, including steps to take to help keep you and your business safe and sound.


Most small businesses don’t have extra capital to recover from a devastating situation like a fire, natural disaster, or even a break-in. Educate yourself on how you can protect your business because your "just in case" can quickly become a lifeline. Here are a few resources to check out:

  • CERF+ Did you know that homeowners insurance rarely covers business property? Read on for a wealth of info and strategies for covering a home business and studio here.
  • SBA Check out the Small Business Association's articles on getting insurance for your business, which include helpful points about commercial property insurance. More info here.


If your business was directly affected by disaster, there are a number of organizations out there to help. Check out:

  • CERF+ The Craft Emergency Relief Fund offers emergency resources, grants, low interest loans, and assistance to artists. Learn more or email

  • Small Business Association The Small Business Association offers low interest loans to businesses that are damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster. Learn more.

  • IRS If you’re in a major disaster area, the IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes to help your business financially recover. Learn more.

  • FEMA The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides access to disaster help and resources. Learn more.

Shop Maintenance

Hurricane, blizzard, broken leg — you name it — sometimes real life situations stand in the way of your business. If something happens, stay knowledgeable and keep customers in the loop.

  • Communication  If you’re affected by a storm or sell something in an area where shipping might be slow, let buyers know. You can do this in your shop announcement, message to buyer, simply by sending a Convo, or you can edit processing times to reflect delays.
  • Shipping Stay up to date on shipping delays where you’re shipping to and from. Here’s a handy resource from the USPS with more information.
  • Mobile Even if your router goes down, your shop doesn't have to. Download the Etsy app, and you can edit your shop's messaging or manage orders straight from your phone.
  • Vacation Mode  Putting your shop on Vacation Mode will remove items from the public view of your shop. In this mode buyers will not be able to purchase from your shop, will receive an auto-reply to convos, and can sign up to get a message when you return. This is a good option if you have limited or no access to your shop. Learn more.
  • Seller Protection If a buyer reports a problem with a transaction (for example, the item didn't arrive) Etsy Seller Protection has your back. Follow our simple requirements outlined here to make sure you’re covered.

Please share your tips, best practices and resources for sellers dealing with a disaster in the comments below. More importantly, stay safe out there!


Nickey Skarstad

Nickey Skarstad is a senior product manager on the Shop Management team at Etsy — the team that builds the tools sellers use to manage and run their shops. During her tenure at Etsy, Nickey has managed more than ten prototype teams, and is a long-time Etsy seller and community member.


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