Thousands of Etsy sellers to strike over rising transaction fees

Thousands of Etsy sellers are shutting up shop this week to protest against a rise in fees made by the online marketplace for independent artists, vintage sellers and craftspeople.

The move is a response to Etsy, which hosts more than 5.3m businesses, from Monday increasing the fees it charges sellers from 5% to 6.5% – a 30% increase.

More than 20,000 Etsy sellers have joined the strike after organizing via Reddit, with many putting their online shops in to “vacation mode” for the whole week and some just for Monday. Other Etsy vendors are keeping their stores open but have added imagery explaining their opposition to the fee hike to customers.

In a letter sent on Monday to Etsy’s chief executive, Josh Silverman, the strike organizer, Kristi Cassidy from Rhode Island, called the move “nothing short of pandemic profiteering.” Etsy has yet to respond.

Speaking to the Guardian, Cassidy said: “We gave people multiple options for how to participate, depending on their financial situation.”

Cassidy said more than 22,500 Etsy sellers had joined the protest.

As well as anger about the increased fees, Etsy vendors are also opposing other changes, which they argue have cheapened the brand and eaten into their profits. Sellers with an Etsy turnover of more than $ 10,000 a year are charged an extra mandatory 12% fee for offsite marketing.

Noemie Kenyon, a British seller, said: “I’m unhappy about the forced marketing – or what they call ‘offsite ads’. I find that quite outrageous as the seller does not have a say on what will be advertised. ”

As well as asking for the fee increase to be canceled, the strike organizers want sellers to be able to opt out of offsite ads.

Etsy dropped its B-corp certification – a US legal designation under which companies undertake to maintain certain standards relating to employee benefits, charitable giving and supply chain practices – in 2017 and went on to report record profits in 2020 and 2021.

A spokesperson told Marketwatch: “Sellers have consistently told us they want us to expand our efforts around marketing, customer support and removing listings that do not meet our policies. Our revised fee structure will enable us to increase our investments in each of these key areas so we can better serve our community and keep Etsy a beloved, trusted and thriving marketplace. ”

In a blog to Etsy sellers published before the strike, Cassidy wrote: “As individual crafters, makers and small businesspeople, we may be easy for a giant corporation like Etsy to take advantage of. But as an organized front of people, determined to use our diverse skills and boundless creativity to win ourselves a fairer deal, Etsy will not have such an easy time shoving us around. ”

After Amazon workers’ historic win last week in establishing its first union in Staten Island, New York City, Cassidy said she believed this could be the start of a new labor movement for the gig economy.

“That’s what we wanted to do from the beginning,” she said, adding that more than 500 sellers had committed to working together to grow an Etsy activist campaign.

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