Support Local Journalism

REXBURG − It's been 10 years of selling decor and homemade goods on Etsy, after her husband Jacob was laid off due to the Great Recession and loss of his vision. But on Feb. 15 Krista Flamm took to Instagram asking for help trying to understand why Etsy shut down her family's 5-star business with little notice or explanation. 

"After more than 10 years of running a very successful business through Etsy, Etsy decided to shut us down," according to a post made on Instagram by Flamm. "This business is our only source of income due to my husband's loss of his vision. It has been an answer to our most sincere prayers, and without any say in the matter it has been completely taken away from us."

The Flamm family made at least 30,000 sales, some orders with multiple items. Flamm said they sold hundreds of thousands of items and that they employed about 12 local moms.

The family tried to contact Etsy customer service multiple times to find out what was going on. When they did get an Etsy representative on the phone, the representatives would read a prewritten message telling the Flamms that their store was closed and there was nothing they could do.

It was a devastating blow to the family who had been selling their goods on the Etsy platform and encouraged others to do so.

"I feel bad because my (success) story brought other people to Etsy and I brought them into a trap," she said. 

Flamm said she took to Instagram for help when they couldn't get any information from Etsy customer service. 

Then an Etsy official reached out to Flamm on Instagram. She said that they would send Flamm an email about why her business was kicked off the site. Then Flamm recieved an email that said Etsy shut down their shop, Bed Buggs Boutique, because they had too many bad reviews. The decision is part of the company's new policy that states a business's Order Dissatisfaction Rate had to be less than 1%.

"Cases and low reviews are strong indicators that buyers haven’t received the customer service they expect from a shop," according to Etsy's website. "Shops should have less than 1% of their orders result in an unsatisfactory customer experience."

That explanation only confused the Flamms. Their store had 5,544 reviews and all together they had a 5-star review. They had some bad reviews but most were resolved and ended in later positive ratings.  

"One complaint we had in the past was that the pink (on one of our products) was too pink," she said.

"(Our business) has basically stopped," she said. "We have a couple of orders coming in here and there but for the most part that was all our traffic so we’re frantically trying to bring traffic to our new site but it’s basically at a standstill we had consistent orders coming in and again that was because of building a business for 10 years."

Flamm said that when she took to Instagram hoping to bring traffic to their new website, daisymanor.com, others who owned businesses on Etsy started talking about how their stores were shut down in a similar fashion. 

"It’s heartbreaking," said Cheryl Walker, a former Etsy shop owner based in Flower Mound, Texas. "This is an Etsy success story that they should be proud of and use in advertising to encourage others to open shops. Instead, putting them out of business until she can regroup. I’m just having a hard time believing that Etsy is doing this to so many shops."

Walker said Etsy shut down her business DelightfulSewNSew on Nov. 21, 2019. She had been running her online store since October of 2013 and she too had little notice.  

Walker said her store had over 9,000 sales and over 1600 reviews showing a 5-star rating. "It only took two cases and seven reviews to shut down my shop and totally stop my income," she said.

Walker said her business was her only source of income.

"Suddenly losing my only source of income has been devastating for me," she said. "I have had to start using my savings to pay my monthly bills and house note. I recently started to work for Instacart to stretch my savings. At almost 64(years-old), there aren’t jobs out there that will pay the same that I was earning from my business."

We reached out to Etsy but they have not responded to our inquiry. 

The site does have an article titled "3 Myths About Policy Enforcement Debunked" In which they state that the shutdown process is not automated, that Etsy does give second chances, and offers leniency to shops in hardship.  

Flamm said she will try to repeal the decision on her business. "(But) what I’ve heard from other sellers is that most appeals are declined," she said.