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Metaphysical Services on Etsy—Shops shut down

Worried about the latest Etsy shut-down of certain”metaphysical” shops?  Here’s what you need to know.  


As all Etsy sellers are certainly well aware, Etsy has a bunch of rules about what you can sell and how you can sell it. Sometimes sellers move off Etsy because they want to sell “different” items or sell them in “different” ways. For example, if you start in your basement and…as you grow…move into multi-person manufacturing, it is probably time to move off Etsy.


Occasionally, Etsy shuts down shops because they don’t feel the shop fits the terms of service. We have seen that happen recently with metaphysical services, people selling items for healing or spiritual change…. So what do you do if Etsy does shut down your shop or you decide to move on for any reason?


If you have a website, you’re ahead of the game, because you can keep all ofyour traffic. You still need to change your e-commerce platform. It can still be abrupt and alarming to find your shop shut down suddenly. But having a website puts you in astronger position if it does happen. (Talk to us about options in transferring your e-commerce platform)


In the upcoming weeks, we discuss in more detail the BeesWax terms of service and what the terms mean for you. For now, be assured that BeesWax is a multi-platform e-commerce content management system…which means that your website will still be up and running (and we can help you transition your shop) if you need to move off Etsy forany reason.


Etsy shop shutdowns are in the news….


Some Etsy sellers have reported being shut down recently.   Among those who’ve been recently shut down were some who were arguably offering promises of physical or medical outcomes from”metaphysical” services. Many of our BeesWax Websites customers have asked us whether they’re at risk as well. 


Getting shut down by Etsy certainly sounds like an unenviable event: they bar your future use of Etsy in any way they can, blackballing your IP address, taking down all your associated Etsy sites, etc.  It can be scary for a user who is making reliable income on Etsy.  


I wanted to focus this short piece to clarify the rules for Metaphysical services for our BeesWax customers.  To start, some critics have suggested that Etsy administrators have not exactly been even-handed in their enforcement.  If you’re offering to roust evil spirits from your college girlfriend using a Wiccan amulet...you’re likely to get banned.  On the other hand...if you’re making St. Christopher keychains, suggesting that the patron saint of travelers will help protect me on my trip to Oregon this Fall, you’re far less likely to have any trouble.  I’m not going to promise that Etsy will forever tolerate promises of

spiritual benefits based on Christian iconography; I’m just saying that the anecdotal evidence suggests that mainstream (or well-established) religion-based metaphysics has been treated less harshly in the past. I also don’t claim to have administrative insight into Etsy’s enforcement…and so this comment is purely based on what our users are telling us…and what we are reading in the news.


Here are a couple of helpful links about the rules:


In a recent Etsy forum post, an Etsy admin responded to seller questions with with the following:


Thank you for posting, and please allow me to clarify. We are not shutting down all metaphysical shops, but only those who violate our policies, which you can read here: www.etsy.com/help/article/4524.


At Etsy, we believe in freedom of thought, expression, and religion. However, we also want to protect our community from unauthorized medical drug claims or claims of medical cures. We also do not allow metaphysical services that promise to effect a physical change or other outcome (such as weight loss, love, or revenge), even if they deliver a tangible item. I hope this clarification helps.


Also of note (and worth reading) is the Entrepreneur article by Geoff Weiss entitled ”Etsy Infuriates ‘Wiccapreneurs’ by Banning the Sale of Metaphysical Spells,” in which Mr. Weiss attempts to answer the question.... What kind of company goes out of its way to mess with witches?. 


All mirth aside.  Etsy’s policy is intended to protect consumers from false or dangerous claims.  The most pertinent quote about this recent brouhaha is this: An Etsy spokesperson told The Washington Post that the ban serves to “protect our community from business practices that prey upon vulnerable and desperate shoppers — such as those seeking a treatment for cancer or infertility, or those with self-esteem issues who are seeking a spell for weight loss or beauty enhancement.”


At BeesWax Websites, we want you to have a long, happy tenure as an Etsy seller, and we are working hard to help you create brand equity through your website.  We encourage you to follow Etsy’s rules and regulations.  We will periodically update our readers on legal and logistical changes to the Etsy terms of use.  That’s all for now....


...and Happy Selling!



Christopher Craig is a BeesWax Websites founder...and a practicing lawyer.

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