So does it really matter where you buy your handmade goods? Isn’t purchasing a stunning original handbag on one online venue pretty much the same as buying it on another?
That may depend in part on your motivation for buying handmade work in the first place. If you’re just purchasing the work because you like it (a great reason!) then you’d be fine choosing to purchase from the venue that you happen to prefer. Maybe you’re already a member of Etsy and like to keep all of your purchases organized in one place, or you want to pay with Amazon Payments in which case you’d favor a venue that accepts it. Or you just want to get through the process as quickly as possible, so you’re a fan of venues with “Guest Checkout”. All of those are great reasons to stick with the status quo.
But if part of your motivation is to promote handmade goods as a whole, and encourage others to do the same, then you might want to dig a little deeper into your chosen venue’s commitment to the handmade movement. Is your venue a serious proponent of handmade, or do they seem more interested in the bottom line? It’s a question you’ll want to consider if you’re concerned with the bigger picture of supporting independent artists.
Many artists have outposts at several different venues, so you do have a choice when deciding where to purchase a particular product. Few artists would reject a call to list a specific item at another of their shops if a customer requested it. So why would you want to do that?
Venues vary in their commitment to their mission statement of selling goods that are handmade and not manufactured (with the exception of vintage and supplies, which are allowed on most sites but are categorized separately). On any given day, dozens of new “resellers” sign on to venues like Etsy and list hundreds, maybe thousands, of products as handmade goods. As you might imagine, policing this is a huge challenge that requires a significant investment in manpower to accomplish. The different venues deal with this in various ways.
Etsy deletes reseller accounts when they find them, but seems to have a hard time keeping up despite continuous “flagging” of items by members to bring them to the attention of the venue. ArtFire has a flagging system in place that removes an item automatically if it receives a proscribed number of flags from different members and puts it up for the venue’s review. This seems to do a good job of keeping manufactured goods from staying on the site for long and discourages resellers who might otherwise continue to create new accounts to list manufactured items. Zibbet also utilizes a member flagging system, and reviews items as flags occur. 1000Markets has a shop approval process in place that virtually eliminates any manufactured goods, but they do allow artisan pieces to be sold by someone other than the artist who made them.
So how do you think the handmade venues are doing at combating the problem of resellers setting up shop within their domains? As a buyer, do expect them to police and remove resellers or are you just as happy to work around them yourself? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.