Etsy Gets Awesome Ink

Brooklyn-based Etsy wows the New York Times Magazine’s Rob Walker, who writes several thousand gushing words about the company, co-founder Rob Kalin (No. 50 on the Silicon Alley 100), and the handmade crafts movement Etsy is helping fuel.

Walker focuses more on Etsy’s spiritualism and philosophy (Al Gore would be proud) than on the mundane business details, but he does update some of the latter. And they continue to be impressive:

While eBay rose to prominence nearly a decade ago as an endless garage sale for the auctioning of collectibles and bric-a-brac, Etsy is more of an online craft fair, or art show, where the idea is that individuals can sell things that they have made. How many such people can there be? At last count, more than 70,000 — about 90 per cent of whom were women…

On July 29, Etsy registered its one-millionth sale and is expecting to hit two million items sold by mid-December. Shoppers spent $4.3 million buying 300,000 items from the site’s sellers in November alone — a 43 per cent increase over the previous month. Thus far in December, the site has had record-breaking sales every day. Only about two years old, the company is not currently profitable but is somewhat unusual among Internet-based start-ups of the so-called Web 2.0 era in having a model that does not depend on advertising revenue.

Walker also provides a snapshot of Etsy’s pricing, which is significantly simpler and lower than eBay’s. Competition from cheaper, more focused sites like Etsy are likely one reason eBay is feeling pressure to to pressure to re-jigger its listing fees.

Etsy charges 20 cents per listing and 3.5 per cent of the final sale price; this is generally lower and certainly less complicated than eBay’s fee structure; it also charges up to $15 if creators want to highlight a particular item on the site’s high-traffic showcase pages. More competition may be mixed news for individual artisans as newcomers keep flooding in to peddle their wares, but it’s all good news for Etsy.

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