fists (Licensed)

Why Etsy sellers are on strike—and asking you to boycott this week (updated)

More than 5,000 sellers are participating.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Apr 11, 2022   Updated on Apr 13, 2022, 2:56 pm CDT

Starting on April 11, Etsy is raising its transaction fees from 5 to 6.5%—a hike that many Etsy sellers find too much to bear. Coupled with with other complaints about the platform, it’s enough to inspire a strike.

The plan is for Etsy sellers to temporarily deactivate their stores from April 11-18, or just April 11 if they can’t manage a full week. More than 5,000 sellers have reportedly signed up to participate. Meanwhile customers are encouraged to boycott Etsy this week, with people pledging their support on the #EtsyStrike hashtag.

Etsy’s brand is all about supporting independent creators, but according to this protest, the platform is failing to live up to its own image. Independent creators are struggling to make ends meet, while Etsy itself announces record profits.

Among other issues, many Etsy creators are frustrated by the site’s unwillingness to crack down on drop shippers and print-on-demand stores. In recent years, Etsy has seen an influx of accounts selling mass-produced items rather than handmade crafts or vintage goods. A petition supporting the strike (now with more than 40,000 signatures) complains about Etsy bots shutting down “legitimate sellers” at random, while ignoring the existence of resellers offering “sweatshop-produced junk.”

Basically, there’s a prevailing sense that Etsy doesn’t care about the small, independent creators that made the site successful in the first place. This month’s transaction fee hike was the last straw.

The strike’s website lists five demands including cancelling the fee increase, cracking down on resellers, and ending the Star Seller program. Star Seller is notoriously unpopular among small Etsy businesses—a system where sellers are rewarded for maintaining five-star customer ratings and a rapid turnaround on order shipment.

For many creators, these metrics are an impossibly high goal that can easily be sabotaged by random happenstance. During the pandemic, or during high-pressure periods like the holiday season, creators often receive lower star-ratings due to supply line issues. That makes it much harder to earn a Star Seller badge and the accompanying rewards.

Between this kind of pressure and additional costs like transaction and advertising fees, independent Etsy sellers are finding it harder and harder to stay afloat. The question now is whether Etsy’s owners actually care about those small businesses staying on the platform.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Etsy for comment via email.

Update 2:12pm CT, April 11: An Etsy spokesperson tells the Daily Dot: “Our sellers’ success is a top priority for Etsy. We are always receptive to seller feedback and, in fact, the new fee structure will enable us to increase our investments in areas outlined in the petition, including marketing, customer support, and removing listings that don’t meet our policies. We are committed to providing great value for our 5.3 million sellers so they are able to grow their businesses while keeping Etsy a beloved, trusted, and thriving marketplace.”

Share this article
*First Published: Apr 11, 2022, 7:30 am CDT