Etsy, the place to "buy and sell handmade," announced some major policy changes. Starting now, sellers are allowed to have their items manufactured by outside companies. They have to be clear about this in their shops, and they have to be the ones creating the initial design, but at the end of the day, it's okay to go find yourself a factory to produce your items. In fact, they also announced that drop-shipping can be part of the equation, so the finished items can go directly from said factory to the customer. The shop owner might not touch them at all.
Does that sound like a handmade item to you?
I certainly don't think so.
The powers that be at Etsy are claiming that as long as a shop owner creates the original design before sending it to the manufacturer, it's still a handmade product. Um, what? Everything at the mall is there because a person, or a team of people, designed it. If those items aren't handmade, neither is anything manufactured on behalf of an Etsy seller. The leaders claim (among other things) that the new policy is to keep bigger sellers from leaving the site when they grow too large to handle business on their own. It's great that people can use Etsy as a springboard, but when you have to start manufacturing to keep up with orders, then I think you're ready to strike out on your own. Leave the handmade items to the handmade site.
A lot of people, including me, shop on Etsy because we want to support an actual person. We want the unique items that are made with real hands. We've gotten to know each other, and that makes the appreciation for everyone's items that much deeper. That's not to say that manufactured products are inherently bad--we all buy stuff made in factories--but it's a problem when you try to involve mass-production in the handmade system. It doesn't compute.
There's also the looming issue of prices. Handmade goods are more expensive by nature because there aren't any short cuts. How are we supposed to compete with Bob Factory and his $7 necklaces? By allowing large-scale manufacturing, Etsy is hurting the people who make everything by hand; the very people who got their site to where it is today.
If I weren't already transitioning into a different career, I would be thinking long and hard about whether Etsy is worth my time going forward.
This is so, so disappointing.
How do you feel? (I can probably guess, but I thought I'd ask anyway.) Who needs a virtual hug?
If you want to read more, here's the announcement and here's a thread on the forums were admin are answering questions. One of mine got a reply, but it was just a canned response. Sigh.