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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Fun guide to women's vintage clothing on eBay


Do you dig women's vintage clothes? My wife Kelly Sparks is a fashion designer and stylist who has been a hardcore vintage and thrift treasure hunter since she was in high school. Kelly was asked to write a series of shopping guides on eBay and her first one, no surprise, is "The Thrill of the Hunt: A Personal Stylist's Guide to 10 Vintage Items Every Woman Needs In Her Closet." Read the rest

Douglas Coupland: Why I love shopping


I had a hard time selecting a blockquote from Douglas Coupland's essay on retail shopping because every paragraph is a gem.

I was really excited to go to Harrods in London and when I got there everything was . . . shiny. Everything looked like it was designed by the same guy who did Michael Jackson’s wardrobe, which is fine. I guess I was expecting a whole other level of luxury, which sounds so corny. And what would a whole new level of luxury look like, anyway? In the old days, more luxury meant more jewels and shiny stuff. These days, it usually means a lot less, like Muji or airport interrogation rooms. Humanity actually seems to be split down the middle on luxury: those who want gilded leopard-shaped teapots, and those people who want to live in the white box their iPhone came in.

Image: Wikipedia Read the rest

Go to Kmart to use the Internet to shop at Kmart


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

You're inflating your tires wrong. Here's how to do it right, and save up to $500 a year.

Your tires? I want to PUMP! THEM UP!

Robin Sloan on Ye Olde Geek Shoppe

At Medium, Robin Sloan writes an appreciation of Nerdhaven, the archetypal shop in Everytown "catering to comic book readers, the D&D players, the gatherers-of-Magic." Read the rest

Rue 21 tells 14-year-old shopper she's "too big to be in this store"

Charming. Stacey Kafka with ABC News:
“I walked in and the lady at the front counter said hey you’re too big to be in this store, I need you to leave,” said Buster. ... After Shelby’s mom contacted us, we contacted the store. The Rue 21 district manager told us over the phone that they’re aware of the situation and are currently looking into it.
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"Dragon" found in toilet

A shopper fled from an Asda supermarket in Edinburgh, Scotland, after being confronted by a "dragon" in the toilet—a creature that turned out to be a harmless monitor lizard. The lizard was rescued by animal welfare officers, who have named it Lulu. [The Scottish Sun] Read the rest

Zine newsstand in Brooklyn subway station

The Newsstand is a subway shop inside Brooklyn's Lorimer/Metropolitan station that specializes in zines. Great idea! (And yes, it's already been nicknamed the "hipster newsstand.") Paper magazine interviewed the proprietors:

Lele Saveri: I think the zine idea was also because of the location. You're in the subway and people are used to grabbing something to read for the train ride. If it's not a newspaper or magazine, you just download [something] on your phone. [Zines] are something people can get for cheap and a unique thing. Also, you're [physically] underground and zines have always been about the underground world.

Jamie Falkowski: I think that space is really interesting because it's so different from going into a regular newsstand. You have to spend time and look at all the different titles and find the thing that speaks to you.

LS: Everyone who works at the stand are people who have been related to the zine world forever. They know exactly what they're selling. It's not like a dude who sells magazines and doesn't even look at them. Every day there's a new person and every day the person is curating or moving things around. I swear you'll see new stuff every day.


Severed deer head left at supermarket self-checkout

From the BBC:

The severed head of a deer was left on a self-service supermarket checkout, prompting a police investigation. The innards of the animal were found in one of the aisles of the Tesco shop in Saffron Walden, Essex, police said. ... A spokesman for Essex Police said nobody had been arrested. A spokeswoman for Tesco apologised for "any distress caused".

I don't know what the big deal is. Don't we all do the same when the stupid self-checkout won't beep something? Read the rest

Smells like shopping

Expect America's malls to soon become orange-scented. A new study by Washington State University researchers suggests that "simple scents" -- they tested orange -- can stimulate a bump in retail sales. This is compared to no smell or "complex scents" like an orange-basil-green tea blend used in this study. From WSU:
The researchers say the (simple) scent is more easily processed, freeing the customer’s mind to focus on shopping. But when that "bandwidth” is unavailable customers don’t perform cognitive tasks as effectively, says (Eric) Spangenberg, (dean of the College of Business)...
"WSU researchers tie simple scent to increased retail sales" Read the rest

Deer enter shop

The Cedar Rapids Gazette: "A doe and her two fawns tried to get a jump on the Black Friday sales in Coralville on Monday morning when they surprised the staff at Kohl’s by entering through the automatic front doors." Read the rest

Geology geeks: Time for a shopping spree

The United States Geological Survey is having a great big spring sale, with lots of maps, charts, and publications—some of them mid-century vintage—discounted to $1. Yes, $1. At that price, you can't afford to not own entirely too many USGS maps. (Via Travis Weller) Read the rest

Muji's background music

Muji sells high quality generic products at inexpensive prices; think Ikea with better taste and a Japanese flavor of minimalism. This is its background music. Bruce Sterling: "More starkly minimal than the muzak from lesser outlets of capitalism." Read the rest

Wal-Mart Black Friday shopper pepper-sprays rivals

At an LA-area Wal-Mart today, one shopper pepper sprayed rival bargain hunters, and the horde tore down the video game stands. #Occupy Aisle 13! But Wal-Mart's reckless encouragement of Black Friday stampedes—it sounds whistles in stores to kick them off—isn't always a joke. [LA Times] Read the rest