Etsy, whose tagline is "Your place to buy and sell all things handmade," is also host to a thriving community of vintage and supply sellers, including some wonderful shops that make the online experience like a comfortable trip to the very finest antique mall.
And then there are the others.
The ones who have cheap cameo bracelets they bought last week at Walmart. Or the sugar bowl that's not too bad, except it was made in 1994 (and thus not considered vintage by Etsy's 20-years-old standard). Or the skirts that were made in a factory in Southeast Asia.
What happens to these rulebreakers, these cheats--who contribute to the impression that Etsy is "an online flea market" (as one online columnist called it)? Some of them eventually get shut down (sometimes to reopen under another name). One of them I know of has made more than 100 sales in 4 months of business; maybe the boom will be lowered some day, but it does seem to take forever.
The community at Etsy is starting to fight back. This past week, the shop owner of Keys and Memories set up the Etsy Pledge Blog to highlight vintage and handmade sellers who publicly affirm that they "don't mistag or resell new items under the guise of being vintage or handmade." The blog already has 34 so-called Seal of Approval Shops (mostly vintage) listed and is adding more daily.
It's tempting, of course, to give you a link to those shops selling Walmart jewelry or brand new accessories. But maybe, if Etsy does its policing job right, by the time you read this they'll be gone.
Or maybe not--and there'll always be someone new to take their place. Caveat emptor indeed.