News & Opinion | March 31, 2022 4:01 pm

Why Etsy Sellers Are Going on Strike

Starting on April 11, sellers on the popular e-commerce site are going on strike and asking buyers to not cross the picket line

In this photo illustration the Etsy logo seen displayed on a smartphone. Here's why Etsy sellers are going on strike in April 2022.
More than 5,000 sellers on the popular e-commerce site are planning to switch their Etsy shops to "vacation mode."
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

In February, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman sent out an email to Etsy sellers praising them for high sales and revenue that helped boost Etsy stock. He also announced that transaction fees would be increasing by 30% starting April 11. 

In response to the news, more than 5,000 sellers on the popular e-commerce site are planning to switch their Etsy shops to “vacation mode” on that date in the hopes that “Etsy starts shitting bricks,” as one seller put it to The Verge. This will essentially shut down their businesses and cut Etsy off from potential revenue; strikers are asking buyers to not shop at Etsy from the 11th to the 18th.

While the recent transaction fee hike prompted the planned eight-day strike, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg for sellers. Since 2017, Etsy has rolled out a number of controversial policy changes that have raised costs for and put an unfair burden on sellers — many of which are referenced in the striking Etsy sellers’ list of demands

Along with canceling the recent transaction fee increase, sellers want more regulation regarding resellers. In 2013, Etsy began to allow sellers to outsource production, frustrating other sellers who say the site is now littered with mass-produced products featuring unoriginal or stolen designs. Sellers also want the ability to opt-out of the bizarre Offsite Ads program, a mandatory advertising program in which Etsy advertises sellers’ products and takes a percentage for every sale they refer. Sellers are automatically enrolled and cannot opt-out if they make more than $10,000 in sales each year, and they don’t have the agency to choose which listings are advertised. 

Etsy’s Star Seller program, which was introduced in 2021, is also a subject of anger. The program awards badges to sellers who respond to messages within 24 hours, consistently earn 5-star ratings and ship on time. According to the company, stores with this special badge are highlighted more frequently by Etsy and communicate to buyers that “you consistently go above and beyond, which could help you get more sales.” Those striking say this creates unrealistic standards for many sellers — especially those offering customized goods — and want an end to the program. 

So what do the bigwigs have to say about all of this? 

Silverman and Kelly Clausen, the head of corporate communications at Etsy, have defended the recent fee change. 

Silverman said Etsy had “demonstrated [its] ability to make improvements that directly translate into more sales for our sellers.” Meanwhile, Clausen claimed the higher fees would allow the company to “increase our investments” in marketing services and customer support “so that we can better serve our community and keep Etsy a beloved, trusted, and thriving marketplace.” Blah, blah, blah.

If you’re a frequent Etsy customer, have ever ordered a personalized flask from the site or simply care about small businesses, you should stand with striking Etsy sellers and stay off the e-commerce site from April 11 and April 18. You can also sign their public petition here