The Artisans Cooperative is a new alternative Etsy marketplace to highlight handmade products only.

The Artisans Cooperative – Another New Etsy Alternative Marketplace, but With an Intriguing Twist


In an effort to promote ethical and cooperative ecommerce practices., Artisans Cooperative has launched a pioneering online marketplace for handmade goods, entirely owned and operated by its users.

This innovative platform emerges as a “co-op alternative to Etsy,” providing a space where global buyers and sellers of arts and crafts can interact in a mutually beneficial environment.

The announcement is aptly timed during National Co-op Month, spotlighting the cooperative business model as a trusted, ethical, and proven alternative in the global market.

Artisans Cooperative opened its digital doors to shoppers in pursuit of genuine handmade goods and to artists and makers seeking a fresh, transparent selling platform.

The marketplace, which at launch boasted over 70 shops and 1,200 items, with more being added daily, offers a rich array of unique, handcrafted items for consumers desiring something exceptionally special.

Erin Sapre, a potter from North Carolina and Secretary of Artisans Cooperative, expressed, “We are excited to provide a platform that rewards the artisans and their craft as the true value builders of a marketplace.”

This sentiment is echoed by artists like Aurora Herman from Cork, Ireland, who appreciates the departure from conventional methods that have constrained artists in the past.

The cooperative provides a new avenue for selling and introduces transparent, community-written policies and a straightforward sales commission structure with no listing fees.

It extends an invitation to artisans and supporters to become co-op business owners, granting them voting and financial rights, thereby ensuring that the platform remains attuned to the needs and aspirations of its community.

The Artisans Cooperative – An Etsy Alternative?

The Artisans Cooperative embarked on a journey to establish an alternative marketplace to Etsy, following in the footsteps of others like MyCommunityMade, especially in the wake of last year’s ‘Etsy Strike.

Launched earlier this year, MyCommunityMade aimed to carve out a space for Etsy sellers in search of a more favorable platform. For simplicity, both this and the Artisans Cooperative utilize existing technological frameworks, which makes launching a marketplace platform easier.

The Artisans Cooperative is developed on the Shopify platform, and from a scalability point of view, it is built on a more easily scalable ecommerce platform versus MyCommunityMade, which runs on WooCommerce.

Crafting a marketplace is a commendable feat and the underlying technology is important, but attracting steady and impactful traffic is a much greater challenge altogether, especially without significant funding.

Etsy was initially launched in 2004 with $400,000 in seed funding, it quickly secured an additional million the next year, and before its IPO in 2014, amassed a total of $97.3 million in outside funding. This substantial financial injection propelled Etsy to become a significant player in online commerce.

In contrast, the Artisans Cooperative is forging a path as a grassroots platform, owned and managed by its members.

They raised $50,000 in seed money from its ‘Founders Circle’ and made a collective decision to remain a ‘bootstrapped’ operation for the time being, not seeking external funding.

Members of the Artisans Cooperative appear to be acutely sensitive to high commission fees – a major issue in the Etsy Strike – but I believe will face significant growth challenges without major additional funding.

In that regard, it appears to be similar to MyCommunityMade, which also doesn’t seem to have any significant funding to drive traffic to its marketplace. MyCommunityMade is not as transparent about its business, which is a big plus for the Artisans Cooperative.

The cooperative released a straightforward, transparent commission fee structure, which on the surface, seems favorable to Etsy. However, sellers should weigh the price of probable lack of traffic to the marketplace, particularly in the initial years.

For instance, Our Village, an Etsy alternative launched in 2018 with a similar commission and fee structure and built on an existing ecommerce infrastructure, ceased operations in late 2022.

While one failure doesn’t predict the fate of others, and as an advocate for small businesses, I always appreciate spotlighting new ventures with intriguing business-building strategies. I like the cooperative approach, but I also consider the financial realities and hurdles in the current ecommerce landscape.

In my view, without a substantial strategy to drive and convert traffic to sales, it’s a formidable challenge for the cooperative to grow unless the shop owners on the marketplace invest individually in driving traffic to their listings.

Still, joining the cooperative presents a potentially intriguing opportunity worth exploring; even if initial sales are not robust. It provides artisans with a community of like-minded individuals dedicated to mutually supporting the growth of their craft and business, and that can be an extremely enriching experience by itself.

However, for those just seeking greener pastures away from Etsy, building a marketplace is building a new business. Even if you have partial control and ownership in the venture, it will require direct involvement by a majority of members to succeed.

The Artisans Cooperative is now allowing non-members to sell on the marketplace. But that means you will have no control over the direction of the platform, and you will pay a higher commission rate than members. Not ideal, but an option.

For those interested, you can explore the marketplace at and read more about their business strategy here.

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