New Hampshire Sunday News (Manchester, NH)
December 9, 2007 Etsy.com gives the artsy an outlet
Author: NANCY BEAN FOSTER Union Leader Correspondent Edition: State
Finding the amazing variety of products made by New Hampshire artisans used to require visiting craft shows and specialty shops, but a Web site devoted to high-quality crafts has become a gathering place for artists and craftspeople across the state and around the world.
Etsy.com is an online store that only sells handmade products. With more than 60,000 sellers from around the world, the site is dedicated to the mission of "enabling people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers."
The Brooklyn-based company was founded by artist Rob Kalin after he became frustrated with his inability to find an online marketplace for his creations. With the help of Chris Maguire and Haim Scoppik, the site was launched in 2005, and now employs 45 people in New York and San Francisco. The site boasts a membership of more than half a million people and 60,000 sellers, including more than 50 from the Granite State.
The way in which Etsy was founded makes the Web site special, according to John Rowe, a woodworker and seller from Raymond. "(Etsy was) started by a group of young people without any money, (even scrounged their own furniture to sit in) in an apartment in NYC," said Rowe. "That means the 'greed breed' can take no credit for its success."
"I found Etsy only by accident just over two months ago, and it has to be the single best online shopping experience I've ever encountered as a seller and as a buyer," said Lorraine Ferrari of Londonderry, who specializes in handmade soaps and candy.
For Rowe, who always dreamed of working with wood after he retired, Etsy.com has provided a unique place to sell his work without the hassles of other online shopping venues like eBay.
"EBay is basically a huge flea market, and does not provide much exposure for real craftpeople or artists," said Rowe, 71, who worked in high-tech and publishing before retiring. "Etsy does make an effort to be sure people are selling what they say they are selling, and the sellers can self-police this by reporting fake products."
Don Drew, a woodworker from Raymond who specializes in handmade pens, said the site allows shoppers to find unique, New Hampshire-made gifts and products without having to visit craft fairs or specialty shops. "It's a high-class way of getting your work on the net," he said. "It's like an online mall for craftspeople and artisans. It's a fascinating outlet." Drew said he joined the site because creating a secure independent retail site required a lot of expense and experience. Rowe found the site by reading an article in Business Week.
Now the sellers and the founders of Etsy are hoping that people around the world will discover the site and find that buying local, homemade crafts doesn't require a trip to a church basement or hours surfing through the millions of products on eBay or other sites. "The people you encounter on there not only make some of the most wonderful, high quality and unique handmade creations," said Ferrari, "but they are friendly and helpful and the personal touch you receive when making a purchase beats hands down any generic experience you could get from any other online retailer or at the mall."
To discover the work of more than 50 New Hampshire artisans who use Etsy, visit www.etsy.com and type "New Hampshire" into the search line, or use the Web site's geolocator on the left-hand side of the home page.
The artisans from New Hampshire also have a blog at www.nhstreetteam.blogspot.com that can provide quick links to unique gifts and merchandise.
Copyright 2007 Union Leader Corp.
Record Number: 11D76836AB94EFC8