Friday, May 21, 2010

Etsy Surfing

All next week is going to be about stuff from my trip, which means I don't have a Shoefinder to do today. So I thought I'd go with something different, and spend some time at my favorite shopping website where I never buy anything: Etsy.

For those who are unfamiliar, Esty is a sort of marketplace for craftspeople and vintage retailers to sell their goods online all in one place. There are no selection criteria at all for what gets listed, it can take a while to wade through the dross and find something for which you would actually like to exchange money. But I still think it's a good idea, a kind of "sell them all and let the market sort them out."

And, if you are willing to put in the effort, you can find cool things in surprising ways. For example, I searched "McDonalds" in hopes of finding dumb stuff like this I could make fun of, and happened to come up with these rather gorgeous silver earrings. On the other hand, there are a lot of items that may have seemed like a good idea at the time to the seller, but when you come right down to it, there aren't a lot of people who are in the market for a silver clutch shaped like a terrified dachshund. And if there are, there shouldn't be.


I don't know for sure, but I suspect that one of the largest single crafts groups on the site is the knitters/crocheters. The offerings vary from simple hats, to extremely simple paper cup sleeves, to a hand-knit Captain Jean-Luc Picard, to, erm, a custom-knit garter belt. Or the pattern for making a bag to put your baby in so it looks like a football. Something for everyone, I guess?

It's not all low-end stuff. A necklace like this showed up in this month's Lucky, from an etsy seller, who I am going to assume now has a three-month backlog (a little big for me; I think I'd prefer this one to wear). And some of the things on the more artistic end are really lovely, like this vase or this painting. (And the number of pages I had to go through to find those examples are exactly why not everyone is shopping here; store buyers and gallery runners earn their money for a reason.) But, this being the internet, the geeks get their place, in this case an entire category of "geekery" featuring items like circuit board cufflinks, a Gameboy iPad sleeve, tetris earrings and, for some reason, bugs.


In the end, I suspect that Etsy works best for sellers who are able to direct their customers there from somewhere else, or whose goods are so specific that people will find them directly, because otherwise it is just to easy to get lost in the sea of bad.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some vintage how-to books to browse.

3 comments:

Karen Murphy said...

I can't believe you left out my favorite knitted item: the dissected frog:
http://tinyurl.com/2daw7bt

Daisy said...

I would have, but I thought I must have posted it before. But maybe I just emailed it to Mary; I'm not sure.

Robin said...

I too have spent hours searching Etsy, though never actually bought anything. My favorite is always drooling over aprons, of which they've got a wide and cute selection, but of which I already own 2 that I never remember to wear.

Since I pseudo-quilt, I've also spent time on Etsy looking for what projects people sell at what markup. This I usually find depressing, because anything simple that could be done in a weekend seems to sell for at-cost or less... probably an indication that a lot of the users of the site are crafters themselves.

And those branch earrings ARE awesome, by the way; not quite sure why they appeared under a search for McDonald's, though.