Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Starting an Etsy shop

Well, this is quite an adventure. My husband is tired of hearing about it so you will have to listen instead.

Etsy, for those few of you who do not know about it, is an internet site where resellers and crafty-types can sell their stuff.

Finding the Answers to my Questions
If you superficially scan Etsy, you find there are four easy steps to starting a store.
I suppose they do not want to scare folks off. It is more complicated than that.

Figure out what you want to call your store. Spend hours trying names that some person has already laid claim to. Finally settle on "The Educated Flea." I'll explain that later.

Decide to use Paypal. Find out that you have to alter your existing, personal, account to one of Paypal's business types.

Wonder about shipping costs and sales tax. Decide to worry about that later.

Cruise other people's Etsy shops and borrow some of their policies for returns and so on.
Wonder if that's really what you want to do.

Sales tax. I'll think about that tomorrow.

Realize that, in your county, you have to get a business license. Head to the county seat and find out that they now charge for Doing Business As and that's nearly the same cost as the darn license.  And I'll have to publish in the paper.

Poke around on the Board of Equalization's web site and decide to worry about sales tax later.

The process of setting up a shop generates a lot of questions. Finding the answers is not straightforward. But I think I've gotten it all worked out.

Oops. Taxes.

Sales Taxes and the Great State of California
I think I am supposed to collect 7.25% tax for any sale I make that is shipped to California. How I'm supposed to set that up in my store, I have no idea.

Trolling the 'help' forums, I find that I cannot do that until I've opened my shop. Sigh.

I start the process to get a Seller's Permit, necessary to collect sales tax.

Shipping and So On
While wandering dazedly through reams of tax law, I suddenly wonder how shipping fits into that. (you can't do shipping until you've listed an item, but you can list an item before you open your store).

CA says that (and don't believe me, go look it up for yourself or pay an expert) if I use a common carrier to deliver my package, and the shipping cost is called out clearly on the invoice, and I charge exactly the shipping cost, I don't collect sales tax on the shipping.

Getting Up the Nerve
In order to list an item, I have to have an item to list. So I sit down and bust out a cute doll hat. Then I try to take pictures. I need lights. So I go to Home Depot and get some daylight florescent bulbs and a couple of clamp on light reflectors. 

How much to charge for the hat? No clue, so I cruise Etsy and try to figure out other people's pricing. I think they throw darts at a board and stop when their arm gets tired.

OMG I have to write copy.

AND figure out the shipping. So I head out to the office supply store to look for little boxes. After checking out the Post Awful's website and trying to guess how much it costs to ship something. I guess I'll have to calculate domestic shipping for each item by packing it up and weighing it before listing, then wondering how a second item might affect that, then taking a flying guess for Canada, Mexico and Everywhere Else.

Trying to Look Professional
I've ordered business cards and created a site banner and even ordered clothing labels. Yes, it seems overboard, but I'd like to come across not like a middle aged broad stuck in a home sewing room. Oh wait, that's what I am.

Why a Flea goes to School
I like vintage stuff, and Cole Porter songs. And I've got a Masters degree that does me no good (Education). And I hop from task to task and from enthusiasm to enthusiasm (flea).
"Birds do it, bees do it
Even educated fleas do it
Let's do it
Let's fall in love." 

Thank you, Mr. Porter.


  1. Thank you so very much for your practical overview of starting up an Etsy store. This is just about setting up a virtual brick-n-mortar. How about pricing your work for sale? Each item must have a job-sheet that keeps track of how many hours you spent making it, the materials that went into making it, how much mileage you drove to get the materials, and so forth. You don't want to work for free, right? Then you must figure aout a profit margin so you can make some money... and on, and on, and on. But you have probably already doen all that, if you are opening a store? Best Wishes for Success in your new Etsy venture !!!

  2. Pricing and cost of materials is another thing all together. Unless I'm using expensive materials like silk, the material costs are negligible. the most expense, I believe, comes from my labor. And I'm not sure how much to charge for that. So this is all a learning process for me. Thank you for commenting on my post, I'm glad to know someone is listening. :)