Sunday, December 9, 2012

Etsy and a Sense of Place

            When allowed the choice of attending the craft fair or logging into Etsy, I will admit that this would be a difficult decision for me. The first question I would have to ask is whether I am seeking anything with a particular idea or theme. Late last week, I devoted approximately an hour of my spare time to browsing this marketplace as part of a Secret Santa gift exchange that I’m participating in. The lists we are given are based more on interests rather than on actual items, which allows us to be creative in searching for the perfect items. Due to the possibility that said recipient might be a reader for this blog, all I will say is that I bought a necklace and a pair of earrings with designs based on a couple of things they like, spending a decent amount on both. The only other times that I have used Etsy was in buying gifts for others.
            Etsy serves the exact same functions as EBay or any online store in general. The buyer chooses an interesting product for further examination. The layout of each page features a detailed description that will usually include the price and the materials that were used, as well as a minimum of one or two pictures that can be enlarged with just a click of the mouse. The items I bought on this venture were both highlighted with pictures of them actually being worn, providing me with another influence on deciding whether to proceed.
As different vendors might vary in their accepted forms of payment, the items in the shopping cart are each separated by transaction at checkout. As insignificant as this might seem on the surface, I had to wonder if an illusion could be taken away from this part of the site. In moving between vendors and purchasing individual items unique to their creators, could one part of the craft fair experience be replicated here? Of course, Etsy ensures that multiple items from the same seller remain together under the same payment method.
            Is the craft fair dying out? From my standpoint, it is far too early to formulate a clear answer. The individual community takes on a physical form with a short life span. The foundation for the community itself still remains united and it’s many other components, or the vendors, reunite annually or as often as possible. What I suspected at the start of the project was that Etsy and online vending eliminated some of the interpersonal contact experience during in-person transactions. I’m still divided on this. Having actually met Katie in real life, my business experiences with her will be considerably different from those of other customers. With my Etsy purchases, both sellers contacted me by private message to thank me for my patronage and leave USPS tracking numbers. That was as far as our contact went.
            If we’ve learned anything from the internet, it’s that finding very specific handmade items is now possible. Perhaps we might see more craft fairs concentrated around one idea or theme, much like the one Jennifer described. New vendors will keep appearing. Whether the environments these fairs take place in will be impact by the type of strict guidelines that Joann discussed depends entirely on the fair itself. Seasons of Crafts was a very welcoming one, thriving in its own place.

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