If you're a crafty cat or an eager buyer, you undoubtedly know about Etsy, the online marketplace for buying and selling independent-made cool stuff.
Etsy isn't without drama, though; it can often be difficult to find something genuinely unique among the droves of resellers. Luckily, there are a lot of options available if you need that individual touch.
Madeit is Australia's very own marketplace for handmade goods, and it's a lot more ban happy than Etsy — which is a good thing. It will only allow sellers from within Australia, so you know you're getting local work, and supporting a local artisan (although you can make purchases from overseas); and absolutely no mass-produced items are allowed.
It's larger than you might expect, with a selection of handmade items across the categories of clothing, accessories, kids, home wares, food (Mario cupcakes, anyone?) and more.
Selling fees are pretty decent — each item will cost you a flat fee of AU$0.35, and then a further 4.5 per cent commission of the sale price (commission is not charged for postage). Listings expire after four months.
Like Madeit, Toggle is where you can buy from New Zealand artisans — sellers from other regions are strictly not allowed. It's a little smaller — NZ has a smaller population, so it makes sense — but it has some lovely items across jewellery, home wares, personal grooming and clothing — and NZ buyers get free shipping, which is a wonderful incentive to shop locally.
There are no fees for listing on Toggle, and commissions differ, according to a number of factors. Contact Toggle on email@example.com to find out more.
Big Cartel is a little bit different. Rather than one marketplace, sellers get set up with their very own URL, which you can find through the Store Directory. It means a little bit of extra work for the buyer; you can search multiple stores for a specific item, but you only get a link to the storefront, not the item itself. However, this makes it easier to scan a seller's shop quickly to weed out those who don't suit your taste.
Sellers get a pretty good deal, too: fees are set depending on how large your store is. If you want to keep it small, you can open a store for free, with a maximum of five listings (and one photo per listing). For US$9.99 per month, you can list 25 products (with three photos); for US$19.99 per month, you can list 100 items; and the plans cap out at US$29.99 per month, with 300 items.
Papernstitch is a much more fluid marketplace — it curates a number of sellers to showcase in a monthly "exhibition". What this means for the buyer is that every seller on the store has been hand picked from a pool of submitters, ensuring a level of quality control, which means that the items will be handmade and stylish.
The offset is that it's a little more expensive for sellers: a fee of US$55 is required for the first time they are chosen to exhibit (although discounts are applied if you get picked again later), and the showcase only runs for a month.
The other not-so-great thing is that items aren't sold through Papernstitch, but rather the seller's own store — so, if you are deliberately trying to bypass a particular marketplace, you may be out of luck if you see something you like.
Coriandr is based in the UK, but it seems to allow sellers from all around the globe, and has a slightly broader allowance than Madeit and Toggle — its FAQ only states that anything "handmade and creative" can be sold. However, it has a section for "supplies" that includes crafting bits-and-pieces, and a few items here and there don't look quite hand crafted. However, the marketplace is a solid one, and reselling seems minimal — and navigation is clearly laid out, so you can easily find what you want.
Making a Coriandr shop is free, and it will cost you 20p to make a listing; after the item is sold, Coriandr takes a 2.5 per cent commission. The best part, though, is that listings don't expire — so if you don't make a sale within a timeframe, you don't have to pay to have it relisted.
Poppytalk is a popular design blog run out of Canada, and Poppytalk Handmade is, like Papernstitch, a curated handmade showcase. Also like Papernstitch, it changes its exhibitions monthly; but, unlike Papernstitch, it offers a much more in-depth showcase. Each exhibitor is given their own page, where several items are on display to give a much broader snapshot of what that person does.
It's a little pricier than Papernstitch, but not by much; a month-long showcase will cost the exhibitor CA$60 — and returning exhibitors get discounts: CA$40 per month for six months, CA$45 per month for three months and CA$50 per month if you don't want to make that commitment.
Cargoh is curated; but, unlike Papernstitch and Poppytalk Handmade, it also offers its own marketplace. For all goods featured, it only has two requirements: great design (which, the site claims, is left vague on purpose; it wants to see submissions that the designers think are great) and great photos — because presentation is important. If offers a large range of things, including pets' stuff, device cases, clothing and home wares.
There are no monthly fees, no expirations on listings and no flat listing fees; for the seller, Cargoh takes 8 per cent of all sales, but you are getting placement in a pretty classy neighbourhood.
Folksy is a store that showcases and sells the work of UK designers and artisans. Its policies for sale items are rigid and well defined: items must be mostly handmade and original designs. Additionally, sellers cannot list assembled items, such as jewellery in which the defining feature is pre-fabricated, or gift baskets. Vintage items must be upcycled or otherwise altered, and sellers can't sell items made by others — although craft supplies are allowed.
Anyone can buy, but selling is for UK users only; fees are 15p + VAT for listing an item, and Folksy takes a 6 per cent commission on sales.
We really like what we've seen of Storenvy (Zelda Vans!); it has a massive range of stores and products (15,440 stores and 246,468 items at the time of writing), and, while not everything is handmade, it's all from indie sellers.
Once you log in and find stores, you can follow them, much like you would follow a Facebook or Twitter friend, so you can stay up to date with your favourite sellers. You can also interact with sellers and buyers directly.
As for sellers, we're not entirely sure how Storenvy makes money, since opening a store and listing items are all free. There are no monthly fees, no commissions, no listing fees and no transaction fees. If you choose the option of offering discount codes to buyers, it costs US$2.99 per month, and your own domain name is US$4.99 per month, but those are optional extras.
ArtFire is massive. No, it's not limited to handmade or indie sellers; but ArtFire seems to understand that people want to be able to search easily for different kinds of items — so all the handmade sellers are in one section of the site, commercial sellers in another. You can also find books, supplies, vintage items and fine-art items for sale. Unless it's illegal or R-rated (or food), it seems as though pretty much anything goes — in fact, it's really easy to get sucked into it within a few clicks.
For sellers, ArtFire offers a pretty decent deal if you're confident that you have a good product: a flat monthly fee of US$12.95, with unlimited listing and complete control of your customised storefront. ArtFire offers a 14-day free trial, just in case you're not sure.
Did we miss a great marketplace? Let us know about it in the comments below.