Marriot Hotel in Durham hosts Etsy event organised by a team of marketplace users

Will online retailers and independent sellers replace big commercial brands as more and more shops see a decline in sales. Or does every business owner face the same trouble as the amount of products on offer increase?

Etsy is an online global marketplace that allows people to sell their ‘unique handcrafted pieces and vintage treasures.’ The brand emphasises on the sense of community and the idea of sustainability; which high street brands are often scrutinized for in the form of various news articles and documentaries that expose the impacts of fast fashion.

In 2018, the increasing struggle of the high street is evident as more and more shoppers turn to the internet for purchasing goods. House of Fraser, Toys R Us, Pound World, and Claires Accessories are only a few of the companies who faced closure or administration. In a bid to save the company, fashion retailer New Look confirmed plans to close 60 stores and realign their prices to offer better value. It is evident that fashion retailers have competition when online stores such as Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo only increase in popularity and often offer discounts.

On the first weekend of December, numerous rooms in the Marriot hotel in Durham were filled with stalls of products created by Etsy sellers. The products ranged from jewellery, artwork, and clothing to name a few. When speaking to the stall owners, their level of passion for their products was undeniable, as they explained the history and ideas behind their creations.

Photo credit: Annabel McEwan

Jenny Argyle is a beadwork artist who launched her Etsy shop to sell beadwork tutorials in 2013. Although Jenny regularly sells at Bracepeth Castle fairs during summer and winter, she had nothing but praise for the Etsy event: “The Etsy Made Local event in Durham City was my first.  It was a well organised event and a great opportunity to meet other Etsy sellers. There was a lot of positive feedback and interest from customers.”

Photo credit: Annabel McEwan

Kate Dowell, a 23-year-old customer service and marketing officer is a frequent customer on the Etsy website said: “I did enjoy the event but thought that there would be more variety. I use Etsy quite a lot but feel more inclined to browse more stores rather than sticking to a certain few’.

It is clear that even online sellers face difficulties when it comes to selling products. The community at Etsy not only sell their products online but often have stalls at various events to aid their business’ success, such as this one.

Jenny Argyle confirmed this by explaining that it all depends on the customer and product: “I find the tutorials sell better online and to a worldwide audience via Etsy.  However, the wearable beadwork sells better at local events, friends on Facebook or via features in ‘Bead & Jewellery’ magazine.”

It’s understandable that there is a significant amount of competition both on and off the high street. The struggles within businesses are ultimately the result of the vast amount of variety consumers now have when it comes to purchasing products.

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