July 23, 2023

I remember the days when Etsy was just a small online e-commerce site founded by three guys out of their apartment. They created the perfect platform for people to sell handmade and vintage items until they took the business public. Little by little it has deteriorated to the point of sellers jumping a cliff like lemmings. Knowing all that was happening I continued to shop there and not question anything until my first bad experience a few years back. I purchased a product I thought was American made and it turned out it was from China. The next time I went to shop I was careful to use the search filter, setting it for U.S. sellers only, and somehow still ended up buying something from China. I quickly discovered that the filter only remained set for the page I was on but as soon as I scrolled to the next page it defaulted to all locations. Ugh! After that I scrutinized things more and still ended up buying from someone whose profile said they were in California but then the item I got shipped from China!!!! Frustrated doesn't adequately describe how I felt.  

Today I went to see if I could find a potting bench on Etsy, careful to look everything over to make sure it is a product made in and shipped from the United States. This is what I came across. 

^ this is the first potting bench I came across. I like it because of the little sink. I checked the description and noticed there wasn't anything noted about assembly. Usually sellers will tell you if it comes assembled or if you have to put it together. I looked to see where the seller was from and the info is blank. 

Then I checked to see where they ship from

I noted they list this item as a handmade product.

So I decided to look elsewhere on Etsy for another potting table and I came across the exact same one but this time by a different seller.

I clicked on the sellers name to see where they were from

Then I looked to see where they were shipping the potting table from

I read the description of their table and it was 100% identical to the potting table being sold by HAPPYSHOPBY.  No variation at all. 

Then I looked at the description and this person describes it as vintage AND handmade. Claiming it was made before the year 2000.

Here's the deal. 

1. That potting table doesn't even look vintage. Does it look 23 years old to you? Even if it were never used, wood deteriorates. 

2. Handmade is totally misleading. Sure, it could be something handmade by someone else and you are selling it for them, but is that what people think when they are shopping on Etsy? No! They think YOU made that item. 

I decided to Google potting benches and sure enough, this particular potting bench is sold everywhere which makes it NOT handmade and NOT vintage. Home Depot, Target, Walmart and many other places sell it. 

Out of all of those selling this potting table, the first one on Etsy - account HAPPYSHOPBY - was by far the most expensive. 

If you are reading this and wonder "how can I be sure what I'm getting is American handmade" here's how:

1. Look at the business name, is it actually a name and not something like HAPPYSHOPBY? 
This one below is called Infinite Cedar. A real name. (name is on right below the price)

2. Look at the price. The price needs to make sense for the product. Handmade woodwork is on the more expensive side. $279 makes sense for the above table.

3. Look at the highlights. This item says it's handmade and lists the materials used. When something is handmade the materials used should also be filled in. If they made it then they know what it's made of!!

4. The description should make sense. It shouldn't read like an ad for Home Depot, it should read like the craftsman wrote it and for the above item it does.

5. The seller and shipping information should be the same. If this person made the item then it will ship from their location. 

It's really sad that customers have to jump hoops to find actually handmade or vintage items on a site that built a reputation on selling handmade and vintage items. 

Look at how they describe themselves.

Creativity lives in the heart of the scammers on Etsy selling mass produced products from other places and shipping it to your doorstep. Sadly, the ones that will pay the price for this are the true artists and craftsmen.