Hello TeaLovers! Let's set the WayBack machine two years, shall we?
A couple of years ago, when we started selling a handful of tea blends over on our Etsy shop, we were enjoying the bounty of a Craft Market. Etsy only allowed things that fell into the hand-made category. This actually hurt us a little bit, because we couldn't sell ONLY tea infusers or spoons (because someone else makes them, so selling them as exclusive, on-their-own items was out) but we managed nonetheless.
This company was founded and built on Etsy sales, and the idea of the Craft Market.
The people who shopped on Etsy were OUR kind of people! A little kooky, with a dash of crunchy, and sometimes more patchouli than a reasonable person should own, but our kind of people nonetheless. We love 'em.
And then something happened.
We have started to see our Etsy sales taper off. Not hugely, but as someone who watches trends in sales, and looks fo ways to keep them up I noticed the decline. And the decline has been steady. Overall our sales have been increasing, but when looking at JUST the etsy orders, we are even seeing reduced traffic and engagement from our Etsy ad's that we place. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
So I did some digging. Turns out that Etsy has stopped being a craft marketplace. Shannon Whitehead has a good writeup on the full detail of it, but it comes down to the fact that Etsy isn't in it for the craft culture anymore. We are competing now with manufacturers (NOT Crafters) overseas who are making similar products at a fraction of our costs, and flooding the market with low-quality, low-price products.
While searching for Loose Leaf Tea, our La Sirene blend comes up as the second item, but if I search for "Tea Infuser with Charm" I get a page filled with tea balls that have cheap trinkets attached to them, some of them shipping directly from China, and at nearly HALF of our listed price.
When we list a Tea Infuser with a charm, we purchase the infuser (after having tested dozens of different styles), we have hand picked each charm that goes on them, purchased from small vendors, we then hand wrap every wire in the charm so that we are sure that it is secure and won't fall off, We personally attach each charm and check it and the infuser for defects, put it in a nice little bag, and package it up with a little bit of Dryad flair. All of this, because we want you to have a QUALITY product, that you will love and enjoy.
Etsy used to be about supporting the little guy. Sure, things bought on Etsy might cost a little bit more than something you could buy from a Big-Box store, but by the same token, you knew that your dollars were going DIRECTLY to the creator, and you were supporting a PERSON behind the shop.
With this shift in Etsy policy, and the massive influx of shops, you are more likely to be supporting a Big-Box company wearing a fancy hat, rather than a little guy trying to make a good product.
Today, everyone is aware of every dollar that they spend, sure. I am not going to tell you that you shouldn't count your pennies. But I am going to say that if you WANT a craft product, if you are looking for that UNIQUE and SPECIAL something, keep an eye on the shop that you buy from, and be sure that you really are buying from a crafter rather than a retailer trying to edge out the little guy.