Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Random Thoughts... Etsy and the Economy

In my previous entry, I mentioned that it appears that sea glass has disappeared from the beaches in New Jersey. The extreme winter took it's toll on the beaches, and the reconstruction of the beach has buried much of the glass. As current and future storms erode the beach, the glass in and near the beach is also getting buried.

Since their really hasn't been much to look for on the beach, I've found myself (sitting in my beach chair, working on my tan) thinking more about how the current economy has affected my online and craft fair sales. To say the economy is not good is an understatement. It has not been good for quite some time and this has affected my small handmade jewelry business.

Yet as August rolls around, there are many mixed signals coming from the state of our economy, and yet again, it is showing it's affect for me on Etsy. And this time, it appears to be a positive affect.

My DH has always been a number/stats type of person. He has been responsible listing items, and has noticed trends, that have allowed him to predict when I'm about to make a sale. He noticed these tell-tale signs starting in late July, and mentioned to me that things might be picking up soon.

I was quite skeptical because August has never really been a good month for my shop. Since sea glass is more of a beachy, summery type of accessory, I had already chalked up the summer season as another disappointment...just like the holiday season of 2009, the spring wedding season, Valentine's Day, etc. The economy was still shaky, the daily stock market reports resembled a roller-coaster ride on the boardwalk, so I assumed the "things might be picking up soon" comment to be a future sale, perhaps two (welcomed sales, nonetheless)

My hubby always looks to see how many members are hearting my shop & items. Not just any members, but members that don't have shops. It has always been his indicator that a sale could be forthcoming. And from late July thru the first week of August, I saw several "buyer-only" hearts in my shop... and despite what is usually a slow month, despite an economy that just can't seem to turn the corner, and in spite of the end of summer coming quickly...a sale, followed by another, and then a request, and a sale.

After speaking with a few other Etsy shop owners, they also mentioned a few "buyer-only" members frequenting their shops, "a few more than usual" is what one shop owner stated. Since the last days of July, 50% of my shop hearts are either secret admirers, or buy-only members. In the previous 5 or 6 months, I'd be willing to bet that 90% of the hearts received during that time, came from shop owners.

Is this a case of the economy finally rounding the corner, and improving? Or have people been sitting on their money for so long that they are getting restless, and want to do a little shopping...perhaps an early start on their holiday shopping?

I'm not sure, but I am sure happy about the the increased visits to my shop...and I'm thrilled that I'm prepared to keep my shop in the buyers memory by promoting, and listing new items.

This almost makes me want to brave the 90 degree heat, and do an outdoor show...almost.

'til next time...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Random August Thoughts...Disappearing Sea Glass, Etsy Gets Busier

We're halfway through the last month of the summer, and the last 2 trips to the beach have yielded zero pieces of sea glass, and only 5 pieces for the last 4 trips to the beach. I don't think I ever came away from the beach empty-handed for two straight trips! And only 5 pieces in 4 trips is also pretty shocking.

The NJ shore has been showing signs that the sea glass supply has been drying up in the last few years. Fewer and fewer pieces have been turning up, and most of what does appear on the beach, tends to be thinner shards of green, brown or clear...and that usually means that people are still discarding their beer and wine bottles in the ocean...and most of these pieces tend to be what my DH likes to refer to as "undercooked" or not quite sea glass. The pieces with sharp edges will never get a chance to become sea glass, as I toss them in the recycling cans along the beach. The more rounded edges, tend to be thicker pieces, and close to being finished, so I'll take them to an area of LBI that is not open to swimmers and give the ocean a chance to finish it's work.

Most of the "undercooked" pieces do get thrown out, because a large percentage of them are the thinner glass (almost always from recent discarding) Perhaps one day in the future, I'll regret not giving the thinner pieces a chance, but I would hate to think some unsuspecting swimmer had a day at the beach ruined by a severe laceration on the foot or leg.

So as summer winds down, and the vacationers head home for fall, hopefully there will be some sea glass turning up soon. At least the beaches will be void of cigar smoking, loud-mouthed bennies that leave their trash behind when they leave the beach for the day. I'm looking forward to Labor Day...can you tell?

Has the hot weathered helped or hurt your sales on Etsy the last 2 months? Or has the weather and the weak economy caused your sales to grind to a trickle? In part 2 of Random Thoughts... what I've noticed occurring during the dog days of summer. The images above are a few pieces that will be working their way into my Etsy shop this week!

'til next time... (probably Tues)