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The Biggest Craft Fair You'll Ever Shop

Etsy.com: A great place to shop or to set up shop.

The reason I love going to craft fairs is because I love to find unusual gifts. I get sick of seeing the same things in every store. It seems that it gets harder and harder to find unusual gifts because everywhere you go, you find the same stores.

I remember going on a business trip to Toronto once. A colleague and I had a few hours to ourselves and wanted to spend it shopping, in the hopes that we would find some only-in-Toronto boutiques.

We found all the big department stores that you’d find in any mall in the United States. The only truly unique shop we found was Lush, a store that makes homemade cosmetics. We snapped up gifts for everyone.

That was years ago. Now, Lush is in 41 countries and has three stores in Manhattan alone. The search for “unique” is getting more and more challenging.

Then a few years ago, I heard about Etsy.com. It’s like the biggest craft fair you’ll ever go to and it’s online.

Etsy is an online marketplace for all things handmade. It’s nothing but unique items! A shoppers dream. Really beautiful things, too. Original art, jewelry, knit items, clothing, shoes…you name it, someone out there is making it and selling it on Etsy.

When my partner and I decided that we had a product worth selling, we knew that the first place to research similar, handmade products was Etsy.com.

“Etsy’s sellers number in the millions of handmade items,” Etsy reports on its website. “The Etsy community spans the globe with buyers and sellers coming from more than 150 countries.”

As a seller, it’s a great way to start out. The shop template is simple to set up, looks professional and is free. You choose your product’s categories and you can “tag” your item with up to fourteen key words that will bring your listing up when shoppers search for those words.

You can sell three categories of items on Etsy: handmade; vintage; and supplies. Etsy charges 20 cents a listing and a 3½-percent sales fee. Listings last four months. Payments received from buyers go directly into your PayPal account.

Etsy also has tutorials, tips and bloggers with advice on improving your shop. The site is full of helpful information on every detail of selling.

On the downside, though, is the fact Etsy has millions of sellers, so you can’t just post your items and wait for them to sell. You’ll need to do some promotion to get your product out there, just as you would if you had your own website.

One way to promote within Etsy is to frequently list items, to keep your wares showing up on the “just listed” page. Another is to do your own promotion and advertisement outside of Etsy. I’ve seen Etsy addresses on items listed in the “things we like this month” section of magazines and other places you might expect to see a direct website address.

So you know those things you make for baby gifts that everyone raves about? Or the crafts you like to make as favors or gifts that everyone says, “you should sell those!”

Well, with Etsy, you can.

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