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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ways to still shop for handmade on Etsy

Since I wrote my post about why I'm leaving Etsy, I've gotten many messages of support from both sellers and buyers on the site. It involves people's livelihoods, so I want to be clear that while I don't believe Etsy is a fit for my business anymore, the handmade artists that are there still need your support. They are getting harder to find among the place that used to be known for handmade items, and is know known for unique items, however they may be made.  With this level of fogginess on Etsy, there are some ways to still search what you are looking for, and support a small scale, independent artist of unique, and quality, handmade goods.

It's important to be just as diligent searching for legitimate sellers as it is anywhere else on the internet. Take the time to fully read the item descriptions, seller information and policies, shop owner 'info', and shop 'about' sections. Get a feel for things. Does the listing describe the making process, materials, or inspiration? Does the item description look more like a suspicious website catalog copy and paste than a summary of a process and materials? Are you getting a strong sense of an individual behind the scenes or someone trying to disguise as one? Follow your gut. If you don't believe it is actually handmade, but love it and want to confirm before you decide to skip the purchase, write the seller a note. Ask about the item and feel it out. Some sellers are simply less descriptive in the item listings, and guard themselves a bit more with what they are willing to share, so do some more detective work before you dismiss, or accept, something as the handmade item you are looking for. And above all else, do not trust the 'handmade' filter in your search to be definitive.

Shopping handmade is great, but you know what's even better? Shopping local handmade! Use the feature within Etsy (or course using the tips above) to find nearby crafted items. Search out local events where artists are selling and showing their work. You can even seek artists through their supply shops in your area. Thinking a lovely quilt would be nice but can't figure out where to start? Head to the local fabric shop and ask the staff. They'll be the first ones to know who in the area is making and selling quilts, where a market to find one is, or of another artist somewhere else that is a good fit. A little detective work can leave you with the item you wanted, and a good feeling from knowing you bought directly from a handmade artist.

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