Thousands of Etsy retailers are closing stores this week in protest of a fee increase created by an online marketplace for independent artists, vintage vendors and artisans.
The move is in response to Etsy, which hosts more than 5.3 million businesses, raising fees from sellers by 30% from 6.5% to 6.5% from Monday.
More than 20,000 Etsy sellers have joined the strike since being organized through Reddit, with many of their online stores in “vacation mode” for the entire week and some for Mondays only. Other Etsy vendors are keeping their stores open but have added images explaining their opposition to the fee increase to customers.
In a letter to Etsy’s chief executive, Josh Silverman, on Monday, strike organizer Christy Cassidy of Rhode Island called the move “nothing less than an epidemic profiteer.” Etsy has not yet responded.
Speaking to the Guardian, Cassidy said: “We have given people multiple options on how to participate, depending on their financial situation.”
Cassidy said more than 22,500 Etsy vendors had joined the protest.
In addition to the outrage about the increased fees, Etsy sellers are also opposing other changes, which they argue have made the brand cheaper and eaten up their profits. Vendors with an Etsy turnover of more than $ 10,000 per year are charged an additional mandatory 12% fee for offsite marketing.
Noemie Kenyon, a British retailer, said: “I am dissatisfied with the forced marketing – or what they call ‘offsite advertising’. I find it very offensive because the seller has no say in what is advertised. “
As well as requesting the cancellation of the fee increase, the strike organizers want vendors to be able to opt out of offsite ads.
Etsy has dropped its B-Corp certification – a U.S. legal title under which companies are responsible for maintaining certain standards regarding employee benefits, charitable giving and supply chain practices – reporting record profits in 2017 and 2020 and 2021.
A spokesman told MarketWatch: “Vendors have consistently told us that they want to expand our efforts to remove our marketing, customer support and listings that do not meet our policies. Our revised fee structure will enable us to increase our investment in each of these key areas. We can serve well and keep Etsy a beloved, trusted and prosperous market. “
In a blog post to Etsy vendors published before the strike, Cassidy wrote: “As individual artisans, manufacturers and small businesses, it may be easy for a large corporation like Etsy to take advantage. But as an organized front of the people, using our diverse skills and limitless creativity. Determined to win a fair deal, Etsy will not have an easy time getting around us. “
After the historic victory of Amazon workers last week on Staten Island in New York City, Cassidy said he believed it could be the beginning of a new labor movement for the gig economy.
“That’s what we wanted to do from the beginning,” he said, adding that more than 500 Etsy activists were committed to working together to increase the campaign.