When Etsy, the popular online crafters marketplace when public last week, its stock price soared 86 percent by the day’s closing trading bell. Just a few days later, Etsy’s stock price has taken a dive but sales of the crafts created by Etsy’s 1.4 million active sellers remain consistent. The Brooklyn-based company, valued at over $3 billion, has served as the e-conduit between its crafters and 19.8 million active buyers since its inception in 2005.
One such vendor is Jeff Sparks, whose company, MissionWorks2012, has claimed space on Etsy since 2012. A craftsman who has also been selling handmade mission-era furniture on Ebay since the year 2000, Sparks happened upon Etsy by chance.
“I was selling furniture on my own site, Mission Works, when a friend suggested Etsy because it’s geared towards crafters selling their wares. A lot of sites have cropped up but Etsy was easiest to get into and the fees are less than Ebay’s,” says Sparks. On Etsy, Sparks sells industrial and steampunk light fixtures, shelves and other products he fashions using pipes and other construction materials.
While Sparks still creates and sells wood mission pieces, reminiscent of Stickley furniture, on Ebay and even on Facebook, he says his involvement on Etsy has proven an excellent supplement to his income. No, he says, he is not earning a luxury living by his chosen craft, but he enjoys working for himself.
“Lately, my sales have been on Etsy. To be a top seller on Ebay, you have to sell a minimum number of items and send products within a day or two (of their purchase). That’s hard to do with custom sales. Etsy is more accommodating for custom orders,” says Sparks.
Listing products on Etsy is far more economical than it is on Ebay, he says. For example, listing a product on Etsy costs 20 cents, but Ebay charges more. According to Sparks, he also pays Ebay a higher percentage of what he earns from sales on that site than he pays Etsy. PayPal is another cost of doing business, but that’s an expense Sparks incurs regardless of whether he makes a sale on Etsy or Ebay.
Shipping fees are another consideration. At least for this Etsy products, which are generally far smaller than what he sells on Ebay, Sparks charges a flat fee, regardless of where the items are being delivered. Although that may not be the most economical or business savvy way to conduct his business, Sparks says it’s just plain easier for him. “When I mail a package to Ohio and then one to Washington, it averages out,” he says.
One way he does try to save money is how he ships his wares. “I make my own boxes,” he says. He purchases recycled boxes from different stores, then cuts then down to the actual sizes he needs to mail his goods.
Sparks, 61, describes himself as not the most technologically savvy person. That’s a big reason he hasn’t explored too many other ecommerce sites to sell his wares, although he knows there are others. He did enjoy a mention on the social media web site Bookriot a few years ago, though he doesn’t know who posted it or why. However, the experience was a positive one. “I got many views and sales from that,” he says.