Thursday, November 22, 2007

21st Century Shopping

My roommate and I just spent 3 (!) hours sitting next to each other with our tiny laptops on the futon in our common room, window-shopping on Etsy. Rapid-fire tag-search wars ensued—"umbrella charm!," "typewriter key!," "watch ring!" It was probably the best "shopping" experience I've ever had. I can't wait to do some real shopping there soon; you know, the kind with money!

"Stark Tree Necklace" from ModFlo's shopfront at Etsy. Modern+classic=beautiful.

I was lucky enough to have a conversation with an Etsy employee last weekend, and she mentioned that the entire site's character springs from the fact that 90% of its sellers are women. Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade goods, but it's also a very strong community. The forum boards are fascinating, especially the current uproar over Etsy's gift guides. Staff members handpicked items from across the site and compiled them into flashy best-ofs. And the community was Not. Happy. Sellers who weren't chosen were very hurt; sellers who were chosen apologized for their good fortune. This all reminded me of something I learned last weekend at Futures of Entertainment: the quickest way to kill goodwill in any online community is to turn it into contest. Everyone wants validation, but the dream of Ultimate Validation from a mysterious authority figure tends to distract from the community vision of validating one other.

So basically, Etsy is a one-stop shop for both beautiful, one-of-a-kind items and advanced studies in human nature. Could you really ask for more?

1 comment:

Annemarie said...

one my favorite knitbloggers,, does "etsy fridays" where she blogs an etsy purchase or seller each friday... it always makes my mouth water. you should check it out! :P