Shopping for a human touch

Jason Hall

Web site sells an eclectic mix of hand-made items

The mission statement at is simple: To be “your place to buy & sell all things handmade.” That is, to connect the creators of crafts with people interested in purchasing them.ÿ

All the crafts on sale at Etsy, everything from clothing to jewelry to one-of-a-kind art, were carefully and lovingly made by a real person. But this isn’t your grandmother’s crafting going on here – nobody’s selling hideous Christmas sweaters on Etsy.

Spending just a few minutes on the site practically begs you to click the “Add to Cart” button – I found a skull-themed Dia de los Muertos mousepad, a light switch cover bearing the image of the Virgin Mary and an iPod case that looks like an ornate Persian rug, each for under $15. I almost bought a dozen lobster-shaped dog biscuits, and I don’t even have a dog.

For big spenders, there’s a knit amigurumi doll of Captain Jack Sparrow, a ring made of ancient Kauri wood, and a section for hand-crafted furniture.

Look around – there’s guaranteed to be something you’re interested in, either for yourself or for someone else.

But it’s not just the items themselves that are amazing. The site makes it child’s play to find things to spend your food money on. On the “Colors” page, buyers can specify they only want to see items in orange or blue or green. The level of interaction is astounding. The “Geolocator” page shows you items made by people who live close to you, while the “Time Machine” page keeps tabs on the most recently listed items. The “Suggestions” page lists items similar to other items you’ve looked at or bought.

But possibly the best part about Etsy is the sense of community. Buyers and sellers converse openly in the site’s forums, swapping suggestions for future offerings and tips for better craftsmanship.

Etsy was made for all of those sick of wandering the cavernous depths of eBay for something unique. Where there were once nothing but cheap knockoffs and probable scams, there is now a burgeoning Garden of Eden, a real breath of fresh air. Not only is the selection better, it’s easier to find what you’re looking for.

More than that, after buying through Etsy you feel like your money’s going to a fellow human rather than some faceless overseas counterfeiter. You can’t put a price on that.

Contact ALL correspondent Jason Hall at [email protected].