May 01, 2012 at 10:13 AM EDT
Indepdent Crafts Marketplace Etsy Acquires Artisanal Goods Wholesaler Trunkt, Moving Into Wholesale?
Etsy has become the go-to site for people looking for home-made crafts and vintage items from independent artisans -- and for artisans wanting to sell them, and it now counts some 39 million monthly unique visitors, 13 million items and 800,000 storefronts within its virtual walls. Now it looks like Etsy wants to expand into serving a new class of buyers and sellers: the company has bought Trunkt , which specializes in selling artisanal goods wholesale.

Etsy has become the go-to site for people looking for home-made crafts and vintage items from independent artisans — and for artisans wanting to sell them, and it now counts some 39 million monthly unique visitors, 13 million items and 800,000 storefronts within its virtual walls.

Now it looks like Etsy wants to expand into serving a new class of buyers and sellers: the company has apparently bought Trunkt, which specializes in selling artisanal goods wholesale.

The announcement came in a very indirect way: Adam Brown, Etsy’s head of PR, noted it in a comment at the bottom of a post about Etsy on the Pando Daily blog.

He notes that Trunkt is effectively a one-person operation, and that the acquisition is “an investment in a really talented person who has a deep understanding of an area of business that impacts a number of our sellers.” Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

No official word yet on how Etsy will be leveraging Trunkt (“we have more details coming up about that soon,” Brown notes), but if you go to Trunkt, you’ll see that Etsy is already using it as a platform for its members who do offer wholesale products to sell them there.

The idea of offering wholesale, which presupposes the idea of mass production, hits on a current bone of contention among Etsy sellers. Some of them have been getting increasingly upset over how the site is letting in more “artisanal” creators, who are in reality larger manufacturers rather than independents who make hand-made crafts. As Pando points out, as the site continues to grow, it’s not surprising that the lines between homemade/independent and manufactured/made by machine are getting blurred and possibly harder to police.

So it comes as no surprise that one thing Etsy seems to want to make clear already is that buying Trunkt is not about Etsy selling out, and becoming a platform for the kinds of big manufacturers that upset the business model for the kinds of independents who have become the lifeblood of Etsy’s existing marketplace.

“If and when we do pursue wholesale tools on Etsy, it will be in service of bringing new channels to existing Etsy sellers to meet their needs, not working with large manufacturers,” Brown says. Indeed, for some long-time Etsy sellers who do have the bandwidth to create items in quantity — even if its not Costco or Walmart quantities — the Trunkt move could be a great opening.

While Etsy has yet to comment officially — and we have reached out ourselves now, too — some Etsy users have picked up on the Pando story and have started their own discussion thread on the Etsy site — with many an upset response in the growing list of comments.



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