Talking Shop


I opened my vintage shop almost six months ago. This was something that I'd been moving toward and working on since before becoming an official business last May. It went through several various plans before its launch on the Big Cartel ecommerce site.

I decided to use Big Cartel for several reasons (I am frequently asked about this, so I hope this is interesting!). First, I liked the idea of having my store under my own url. Secondly, I knew there was more opportunity to personalize the look of the page with my own design (this turned out to be more difficult than I'd expected, as my CSS coding skills are next to nonexistant). It also had a flat monthly fee, as opposed to paying a small fee to list each item, which was simple to manage.

So why am I going into this discussion? Well, I've decided to move the shop over to Etsy. And if any of you are looking to start an online store, this may be interesting for you.

So here's the reasoning behind moving to Etsy. First, traffic to the site. Inventory is moving slower than I anticipated, and it's not for lack of traffic (without any prompting, I get 30-40 visitors to the shop each day, much more if I or another blog promotes it).  I saw a few pieces move when I lowered the prices last month, but nothing serious. My suspicion is that many of the browsers come through Big Cartel (there is a shop browsing feature), and that frankly, they are not there to buy vintage items. They are not the *right* traffic or *right* customers. Shoppers on Etsy know that you visit Etsy for vintage or handmade items. They are there for those things, because it interests them. They are not idle traffic. I have to go where my customers are.

Second, cost. There are two issues here - one is the cost of my items. Etsy has a lot of sellers pricing vintage items VERY low. Comically low. So I am a little worried about pricing myself out of competition. However, this is a business - my items are chosen carefully to reflect what I know my readership is interested in. I look for quality pieces. I do price my items to be what I consider a good deal, because part of my goal is to make unique home accessories affordable and accessible. But I'm not the Goodwill. To stay in business, I can't afford to be. And after shipping and packing materials, I highly doubt that some of the low-priced sellers on Etsy are making any profit. On the flip side (and this is the good news), on Etsy I can continue to price my items as a good deal but my chances of profit are greater because the operating expenses are lower (based on my personal shop's statistics). For the listing-lifetime of an item, I will pay significantly less to have that item for sale on Etsy. So win-win - it costs less for me to sell, and I don't have to have higher prices to accommodate higher operating costs. The buyer wins and I win.

Third, features. Yes, I love that I could have my current shop completely customized if I wanted to. But frankly, I don't have the money to pay someone to design it just to look cool, and I don't want buyers to have to eat that cost in product pricing. And that is the main perk of being at Big Cartel (which can be a HUGE factor depending on your branding and your items). Features I like in Etsy - a strong community and forum participation (BC may also have this but I haven't experienced it). Item promotion - if the Etsy folks like what you've got, you may end up on the homepage. Awesome. And the shopper's "favorites" - I love saving shops as favorites to browse later, and I frequently keep them on there for months before purchasing something. I think this will be a useful tool for buyers who like my style but don't see the perfect item *yet*.

So in preparing to move my shop, I'm offering a 15% discount when you use the coupon code LOVEFALL. Because I do (love fall) and because I want to open on Etsy with more new stuff than old stuff. And yep, this is on top of the price reduction I already made a few weeks ago. Many a deal to be had. Shop here. That tree poster up above is still available!

Do you like hearing about the business side of things? I could post about it more if you guys are interested. Let me know.

I don't usually do a whole lot of "business talk" on the blog. But I wanted to share a little business decision I've been mulling over for a few weeks.