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February 2009
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Handmade Goods Movement Great for Home Crafters & Sewers

A national movement encouraging people to buy handmade goods whenever possible, instead of shopping for mostly imported goods at big box stores, is allowing many people to earn income from their hobbies.  This is a tremendous boon to people who need to work while staying at home with their children, and for those who simply need an extra source of income.

Online marketplaces like eBay.com and Etsy.com are at the forefront of the handmade movement, by providing an interntional forum for individual sellers to display their wares.  Many sellers use these sites as their sole method of offering their goods, while others have their own websites but list their items here as well for the increased exposure.

Cynthia Winward of Provo, Utah has a successful Etsy business with sales of over $2,000 a month for her handmade decorative silk pillows.  Winward said she would’ve been happy with $500 a month, but it just turned into thousands a month.  In fact, her Etsy page recently stated that she could not accept any more custom orders until she got caught up.  She says that although she knows she could grow her business “it gets less about the art and more of having a regular job.”

Although eBay can’t be beat in terms of traffic and number of registered users, Etsy is emerging as the leader in the handmade marketplace.  The site takes 3.5 percent of each sale and now boasts over 1.8 million members, including more than 200,000 sellers.  Additionally, the site has experienced incredible growth in sales, going from $166,000 in 2005 to $87million in 2008.

The handmade movement is all about quality and uniqueness, but in addition to being more durable than mass produced items, handmade goods also may have a story behind them or provide a link to product’s maker.  Another option that customers value is the ability to place custom orders to their own specifications.

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