Look no further than Etsy, an online Internet marketplace where thousands of artists, designers, and crafters market their wares. It’s my go-to website for contemporary fine art, crafts, jewelry, and accessories because with so many retailers in one spot, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. Best of all, since Etsy works with small businesses and regular folk, you can find cheap deals on one-of-a-kind items.
My recent finds include a set of vintage owl salt & pepper shakers that I snagged for $5, and a pair of handcrafted earrings that I got for $15. Want to know how to find your own great deals? Here are six ways to shop Etsy to your advantage.
6 Ways to Save Money on Etsy
1. Narrow Down Your Search
If you’re just browsing, use the category feature on the left-hand side of the home page to narrow down your options. Etsy lists about 30 general categories from Accessories to Furniture to Quilts. Once you open a category, you’ll be able to pick from several subcategories. The site posts thousands of items in each main category, so narrowing it down will save you a lot of time.
If you already have a pretty good idea of what you want, use the search feature at the top of the website. There’s a pull-down menu on the left to pick what category you want to search in, such as “handmade,” “vintage,” or “all.” Type a keyword or two for what you’re looking for in the text box and then hit the Search button.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search, whether you’re browsing or looking for a specific item, you can then sort your results by price from low to high. That way, you can see the best deals first. Tip: You may have to filter out the first page or two of results if you search by price. Etsy will pull up supplies and cheap bulk items you may not necessarily want, and you’ll have to dig a bit to get to the good stuff.
2. Shop Local
Hitting the “Shop Local” section under “Ways to Search” will take you to a page that allows you to filter results by your location. This can save you loads of money on shipping because sellers near you are likely to let you pick up your items in person. Even if the seller doesn’t allow for local pickup, she may be willing to ship the items to you at a reduced rate since shipping locally usually costs less than shipping out-of-state.
3. Compare and Contrast
Once you find something you love, do a quick search on the site to see if any other sellers have similar wares. You can often find a similar piece for less money, or less shipping. For example, recently I was shopping for a hanging coat rack. Four sellers had almost the same style, but one of the sellers was asking $20 less than the rest. You can save a good chunk of money by looking around before you commit to buy.
4. Save Your Favorite Shops
Anytime you find a shop with great deals, add them to your favorites by clicking the “Favorites” link. Etsy lets you view all of your favorites in one tab so you can browse available items quickly. You can also subscribe to the store’s RSS feed, where most stores will post any specials they’ve got going on.
5. Make Requests
Possibly the best Etsy feature is the ability to request custom orders by using the “contact” button on the shop’s homepage. If you see something you like, but want it in a different color, size, or style, chances are that the shop will make it for you. You can also use the customer order request to haggle a bit. If you have a set price in mind, you can offer that to the shop upfront. If you give them a reasonable request, they’ll usually take it. I made a custom order request once that saved me half the purchase price. I was looking for patches for a quilt, but instead found a baby onsie that had a great design. Since I had no real use for the onsie, I sent a message to the shop and asked if they could sell me the design only.
6. Make Etsy Your New Craft Supply Store
DIY junkies and crafty people will fall in love with the Etsy supply section. You can find anything from glue sticks, to earring posts, to knitting yarn. Many shops sell leftover pieces they have from their own work, such as artificial flowers, beads, or art supplies. Some shops work exclusively in the supply section and offer handspun yarn, custom paint colors, or other supplies with a unique feel. Best of all, a lot of shops sell supplies at rock bottom prices. I recently went on an online shopping hunt for yarn and found what I needed on Etsy for half the price compared to what I saw in my local craft stores.
With the thousands of stores that offer custom products at almost unbelievably cheap prices, it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite find. Spend enough time on Etsy, and you could redecorate your entire house, find a completely new wardrobe, and become a serious art collector. And best of all, you can save money while doing it.
If you’re interested in setting up your own crafts shop online, see this guide on how to sell on Etsy.
What was your best Etsy find? How often do you shop there? Share you experiences in the comments below.