‘Without the sellers, there is no Etsy:’ Thousands strike after transaction fees rise

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Thousands of sellers on Etsy, a global online marketplace, are participating in a weeklong strike in protest of the company’s increasing transaction fee.

As of Monday, sellers must now pay 6.5% in transaction fees — a 30% increase from the 5% they had to pay previously — after Etsy’s CEO, Josh Silverman, recently announced the change.

So far, almost 70,000 people from across the country have signed a petition urging the company to cancel the increase.

“Etsy’s last fee increase was in July 2018. If this new one goes through, our basic fees to use the platform will have more than doubled in less than four years,” the petition said.

Some sellers have also put their shops in “vacation mode,” which allows them to put their store on hold for a period of time without getting it removed from the site.

One of those sellers is Trishia Shelly-Stephens, the owner of Kennewick-based Snarky Cancer.

“I thought it was actually a sad commentary of what’s happening across the nation,” Shelly-Stephens said. “Big corporations have recorded record profits throughout the pandemic, while small business owners like myself and so many others are struggling.”

Shelly-Stephens said she decided to turn on vacation mode as “it’s a small thing that I can do that shows solidarity with the other sellers.”

“A 30% fee increase can be completely detrimental to a small business,” Shelly-Stephens said. “That’s less money in a small business owner’s hands, while again, increasing the corporation’s profits.”

Etsy sent KAPP-KVEW this statement in response:

“Our sellers’ success is a top priority for Etsy. We are always receptive to seller feedback and, in fact, the new fee structure will enable us to increase our investments in areas outlined in the petition, including marketing, customer support, and removing listings that don’t meet our policies. We are committed to providing great value for our 5.3 million sellers so they are able to grow their businesses while keeping Etsy a beloved, trusted, and thriving marketplace.” — Raina Moskowitz, COO, Etsy

But Shelly-Stephens disagreed, adding this move would be hurting more businesses than helping.

“You can’t cite record growth and then increase your fees, and have it match up ethically, morally,” Shelly-Stephens said. “If the sellers were their number one priority, there would have been no increase. Without the sellers, there is no Etsy.”

However, Jessica Piazza, the owner of Piazza Candles in West Richland, said she’s not participating in the strike as the price hike is “understandable.”

“Everything is going up. It makes sense that they’re going to have to raise some prices too,” Piazza said.

Piazza noted that since she doesn’t use her Etsy platform as her main income, the increased fee doesn’t “make as big of an impact.”

“For private crafters, we put a lot of work into our products that we make and a lot of love into it,” Piazza said. “For those people that are making their full-time income specifically through Etsy, I think it is going to make a really big difference.”

Piazza said she expects the company will support its sellers through these financial changes.

“I really hope that they mean what they say, that this is going towards bringing more traffic into the platform and helping sellers to make more sales,” Piazza said. “But that’s going to be one of those I’ll believe it when I see the difference.”

To view the petition, click here.

For more information on the strike, click here.