Amazon launches “Etsy-killer” Handmade at Amazon, a marketplace for handmade goods


Online retail giant Amazon just launched a marketplace for handcrafted goods: Handmade at Amazon. It's “an arts-and-crafts bazaar online that squarely takes aim at a niche but growing market dominated by the Brooklyn-based Etsy,” as the New York Times puts it.

Handmade at Amazon went live early Thursday more than 80,000 items from roughly 5,000 sellers in 60 countries around the world. They're launching with only 6 categories — home, jewelry, artwork, stationery and party supplies, kitchen and dining, and baby.

Crafters can sell their crocheted pants or 3D-printed succulent cozies on the new Amazon marketplace, just as they've been able to for years at Etsy, a $2bn-a-year business .

Amazon's business is a lot bigger: $75 billion in annual sales. And Amazon's is growing, while Etsy appears to be challenged. One recent change at Etsy that allowed sellers to outsource their production to others is seen by many as a move away from its maker/seller roots.

Amazon, on the other hand, promises “Genuinely Handmade.” In the launch announcement, Amazon emphasizes that everything will be “crafted and sold directly from artisans.”

“We only approve artisans whose products are handcrafted,” said Amazon in a statement. “We are factory-free.”

Them's fighting words. Is this the end of Etsy as we know it? I hope not, I love Etsy.

Here's the full Amazon press release. And here's a snip from the Times story:

Amazon will start out with six categories — home, jewelry, artwork, stationery and party supplies, kitchen and dining, and baby — Mr.

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Home Depot reports huge spike in rubber band sales around Burning Man


Home Depot stores located in the area of Reno, Carson City, and Nevada's Black Rock Desert--where Burning Man takes place--create special Burning Man sections that cater to people who are headed to the annual festival. These stores report huge sales spikes for certain items. Read the rest

Go to Kmart to use the Internet to shop at Kmart


"Kmart Solutions" in-store video from 1998. Read the rest

The fate of the big box store


What happens to all the Wal-marts when we have every last Q-tip droned in from Amazon warehouses? Read the rest

Radio Shack bankruptcy update: most customer data will be destroyed, not sold to pay creditors

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When electronics retailer Radio Shack filed for bankruptcy, the chain proposed selling customers' personal data to raise cash and repay creditors. That's not gonna happen, and the news is seen as a win for the right to privacy. Read the rest

End of Radio Shack

Radio Shack is on its deathbed: $62 million in cash left which apparently isn't even enough to close the 1,100 stores it needs to shut down to stay on life support. Read the rest

Boob and sock money not welcome in the sweaty summertime, sorry

From Adam R. Bowser's Nova Scotia-based Twitter feed, a timely retail sign: "Due to the rising summer temperatures...We will NOT accept any BOOB or SOCK money! Sorry for the inconvenience! It's gross. Thanks."

(via JWZ)

(Image: Socks, Quinn Dombrowski, CC-BY) Read the rest

Archway of books

Vivs Ngo snapped this wonderful shot of Los Angeles's Last Bookstore, an exuberant temple of the bookseller's faith. Read the rest

Santa the Hutt: grotesque photo-op Santa

The Betabrand retail store in San Francisco's Mission district now sports a grotesque window display of Santa Claus, entitled Santa the Hutt. Chris from BetaBrand writes, "Our aim: To poke fun at holiday excess and explore anti-Santa sentiment. Our achievement: Over a thousand people have taken holiday photos at our Valencia Street store since rolling him out last week. " Read the rest

How the Strand sells print books to ebook readers

Avi Solomon snapped this pic of the window display at NYC bookstore The Strand lauding the virtues of their "Real books priced lower than ebooks," including the fact that you can read them during take-off and landing.

Real Books... (via Boing Boing Flickr Pool) Read the rest

WalMart's trove of decade-old, massive, low-capacity hard-drives

Consumerist readers Caskey and Sara went digging through the shelves of a WalMart to see what kind of antiquated computer hardware they could find. They were not disappointed: at least one branch of the store is still selling massive, 2.5GB Seagate drives for $79 (for comparison, consider this $70, tiny 1TB hard-drive with 400X the capacity -- I've been using one as my office backup drive for a couple months and can personally attest to its reliability). There was more, too -- Consumerist has a whole series of them. Read the rest

Tokyo's "unmanned stores" - honor-system sheds where farmers sell their surplus produce

In Japan, farmers sell their blemished, surplus and otherwise unmarketable vegetables in unstaffed, honor-system roadside stalls called "Unmanned stores" ("mujin hanbai"). Produce is set out in trays with an anchored cashbox and a note inviting passers-by to take what they please and leave payment in the box. Farmers sometimes add recipes and other serving suggestions. Here's a map of 120+ mujin hanbais, in Nerima ward -- part of greater Tokyo (a city whose sprawl encompasses a surprising amount of farmland). A fascinating, lavishly illustrated article on PingMag explores the use and practice of these stores, including the growing trend to coin-operated lockers. Read the rest

Malls are dying

There's something nice about going into a well-maintained, well-thought-through shop -- indeed, there's a whole genre of fiction about this. But the dark side of retail is the sprawling American megamall, the original killer of the downtown and the mom-and-pop shop, which turned the public square into a private space and brought crushing sameness to the land.

So while we lament the Internet's deleterious effect on the friendly used bookstore, let's not forget to celebrate the its even harsher effect on malls:

A report from Co-Star observes that there are more than 200 malls with over 250,000 square feet that have vacancy rates of 35 percent or higher, a "clear marker for shopping center distress." These malls are becoming ghost towns. They are not viable now and will only get less so as online continues to steal retail sales from brick-and-mortar stores. Continued bankruptcies among historic mall anchors will increase the pressure on these marginal malls, as will store closures from retailers working to optimize their business. Hundreds of malls will soon need to be repurposed or demolished. Strong malls will stay strong for a while, as retailers are willing to pay for traffic and customers from failed malls seek offline alternatives, but even they stand in the path of the shift of retail spending from offline to online.

This in turn creates further opportunity for online commerce. If I were thinking of starting a new retail brand right now, I would unquestionably start it online.

[The Atlantic Cities/Jeff Jordan]

The Death of the American Shopping Mall

(via MeFi)

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(Image: Pheonix Village Mall, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from cwsteeds's photostream) Read the rest