About 100 Atlantic Canadian artisans gathered in Charlottetown to sell their handmade goods at the Etsy Atlantic Spring Market this weekend.
Organizers say that by midday Saturday, 1,500 people had come to the city’s Delta hotel to check out the goods, with vendors selling everything from coffee mugs to homemade cookies.
For many sellers, this was the first time they had the opportunity to network with other Etsy users since the pandemic began.
“Over the past two years, a lot of people have taken up new hobbies, learned to do new things. So this may be their first market,” said Kate Hunter, team captain for Etsy New Brunswick and one of the people who organized the event.
“We have seasoned sellers who sell with [people] who’s never done a market before, and there’s a bit of mentorship there just within our online community. The promotion, the networking has been really wonderful.”
“Just seeing people I’ve messaged about the pandemic via Instagram or Facebook, seeing them in person is really uplifting,” said Tania Pendergast, a calligrapher and illustrator who started making art. art a form of self-therapy after leaving the army.
Pendergast, who in addition to having an Etsy storefront also sells his artwork to small stores across the PEI.
She said that for the past two years she had to rely heavily on online sales to stay afloat.
“Those stores that stayed open and moved a lot of their business online also displayed my work online,” she said. “I’ve been able to sell this way with my Etsy shop. Locals will also pick up from me. So there’s been a lot of good local support.”
Artist Danielle White said many businesses that buy her products in bulk have reduced orders or even closed due to COVID-19.
White said she hopes events like this indicate things are somewhat back to normal.
“It certainly feels good to see the community again. I really missed that part.”
While many sellers have said they rely on Etsy’s online sales, the platform has recently been the subject of controversy.
Earlier this year, the company announced it was increasing transaction fees from 5% to 6.5%, prompting thousands of sellers to boycott the platform.
White said she understands the frustration, adding the issues go beyond the fees.
“They also changed a lot of their practices. So the way things are searchable, the algorithm, and the way they surface results,” she said. “We’re getting to the point where even to get seen on Etsy you have to pay. So there’s a fee on our sales, but they also charge for [ads].
“Then they also introduced another thing where they advertise on the internet. And if you’re seen and you make a purchase, they take an additional fee. So in some cases they take a considerable amount in fees. “
Pendergast said business owners should compare different platforms, but she sticks to Etsy because of the community.
The organizers said they don’t charge sellers a fee to sell their products on the marketplace and opened their participation to Etsy and non-Ests sellers.
They said they used the name Etsy because that’s where the community started and that’s how they know each other.