I don't normally read unsolicited emails advertising
... actually, if we want to be accurate, we could rewrite that sentence to say I don't normally read emails
. But for some reason, this caught my eye. Probably because when I was last selling at the local
fibre arts events, I went in with another seller and we combined our names. Her name started with MA and mine ended with VEN to create Fibre Mavens.
The website they are promoting is called MavenFair
and the email went
Hello Canadian Maker,
We hope that this finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy as Canada slowly re-opens in the wake of the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis. It is definitely not back to business as usual for many of us. With the cancellation of the spring and summer craft shows and the limited reopening of smaller retail shops Canadian Makers are seeking alternative ways to sell their creations.
MavenFair offers a simple, affordable and reliable solution to setting up and selling your Canadian handmade creations online. We are a 100% Canadian-owned online marketplace explicitly created to offer Canadian Makers an inclusive and professional environment where you can sell your handmade creations to Canada and the rest of the world. We offer you the opportunity to open your own online shop along side other amazing Canadian Makers. We are all Canadian and all handmade.
It looks like it's a bit like a Canadian specific Etsy style service, which is like a virtual mall. You open your own 'shop' and sell
things direct to the customers, only the 'mall' provides a way to process the payments and settle disputes.
In a way, I really like this idea. Promoting local is important - even if local
means nearly the other side of the world (Canada is HUGE). I'm loathed to go shopping and would love more ways to buy online
(and maybe pickup at the storefront to save on shipping - oh, that reminds me, I need to order more beer). What's more, international shipping has been a nightmare these last few months and I've had to do the drastic steps of requesting refunds when an item didn't arrive in 4+ months. So I'm very much restricting my online shopping
to Canada and the left side of the US. As a buyer, I'm very curious about MavenFair.
As a seller, I'm not so sure.
Finding out how to search for items was a bit of a pain. I clicked what I thought, but I was just searching shop names, so I clicked about some more before I found a search box. I would EXPECT this to be the most obvious item on the front page so that buyers can find what they need immediately, but as it is at the time of writing, it's hidden in grey at a corner of the screen. I worry about restricting my customer base. The FAQ says that you don't have to be Canadian to buy, but it's not easy to find this. The front page is very Canadian focused. Yes, Canada has over 35million people*, but the world has over 7 billion and at least 3 billion of them are thought to have access to the internet. 35 million seems like a lot less than 3 billion, but I'm not good at math.Then again, I like the targeted audience base as shipping within Canada is so much easier than shipping internationally. Canada post - although expensive - is a gem! Great service!Something about the aesthetic of the logo really bugs me. Don't know why. Maybe it's the tiny TM thing? Maybe the colours or the fonts.When I search for "handspun yarn" "yarn" "loom" "woven" "scarf" it returns zero results. This could tell me that what I have to sell isn't the right sort of thing for this site, or it could mean the search is broken. "wool" returns results, but the thumbnail quality is horrid - not consistent (but it's also really hard to make it consistent if you don't know what you are doing) It looks like they have integrated PayPal as their payment processing. This has issues, but PayPal adds an additional level of buyer protection which I'm a huge fan of. The buyer needs to feel that they can trust the transaction.
There are more issues, but I think
they are just getting started and working through the bugs. I haven't done any research about it outside the site to see how old it is.
The thing I like least is it's based on a subscription model. I don't know if they have the customer base to be worth me paying X dollars a month to host my shop there. With Etsy, the feels are on-demand. I pay when I list something and I pay more when I sell something. But I only pay as much or as little as I use. I really like that. The fees I pay Etsy not only let me host my shop there, but they also offer payment processing, advertising, access to their customer base, and they sort out the complexities of international taxation. I've thought about going on my own, but each and every time I research building my own shop, I understand just how much Etsy gives me for the relatively low fee structure.
But back to the MavenFair. It might be amazing. I could take advantage of their free trial and sell lots of stuff and get in on the ground floor
as they say.
Then again, unsolicited email... I really hate those.
But I also hate all email, so... I don't know what to do here. I suspect time is going to be my biggest deciding factor. I just have too many obligations right now. Otherwise, I would jump at this as at its core, the values match many of my own. But I need to whittle down my obligations and focus on the things that I know
bring in some income as I have a very big expense arriving this winter.
I don't really know why I wrote all this down. Mostly writing helps me work through and organize my thoughts. Partly, I'm curious if anyone has bought or sold through this service and what your experience
*I recently read a survey that 100% of the population of Canada uses the internet, which was impressive since I know so many people who do not! Then I read that this was an internet survey... I suspect that given the size of the country and blablabla long list of reasons, it's probably about 75% of the population between 20 and 80 who use the internet regularly. But that's just a random guess based on my unscientific sample size of people I know.