The SHOP SAFE Act Would Hurt These 10 Small Online Sellers — But Help Louis Vuitton
Sellers of home decor, accessories, fashion — even macrame — impacted by bill
Almost half of consumers’ online shopping happened on digital marketplaces like eBay and Etsy in 2021, with more than 95% of shoppers using an online marketplace in the last year. And marketplaces have been a boon to sellers too; more than 2.5 million artisans sell their products through Etsy, more than 80% of whom are women.
Given the importance of online marketplaces to the economy, it seems a strange time to make it harder to be an online entrepreneur. But what’s what the SHOP SAFE Act — which was recently attached to a broader bill before the U.S. House — would do.
At the moment, it’s relatively easy for someone to open a shop and begin to sell items on Etsy or eBay. Although there are items prohibited from being listed (like alcohol, drugs, animal products, or dangerous items), sellers generally face minimal red tape when opening a shop or selling items.
SHOP SAFE Act Hurts Small Sellers Who Use Online Marketplaces
But in an effort to please big brand owners like Nike, Louis Vuitton, and Prada, however, the SHOP SAFE Act would make it harder for artisans and other business owners to conduct business. It would require that they:
- Have a registered US agent or verified US address for service;
- Verify their identity, place of business and contact information with reliable documentation; and
- Verify the authenticity of their listed goods.
In order to gain ‘safe harbor’ from trademark infringement claims, online marketplaces would be obliged to display the identity and contact information of third party sellers and information on the country of origin and manufacture of goods; require the use of images that accurately depict the goods being sold; proactively screen goods offered by third party sellers before displaying to customers for counterfeit marks and provide electronic means of reporting suspected counterfeit goods.
The net effect of these new requirements would be to make business harder for the small sellers using these marketplaces who make a living.
And who would that hurt? Here are 10 examples of small online sellers who businesses would be hurt by the SHOP Safe Act:
1. Jen Thomas / Smudgy Monkey Gifts & Accessories / Atlanta, Georgia
According to BigCommerce, Thomas started her eBay business ten years ago when her husband was laid off, to help make ends meet. Selling her gifts and accessories through eBay has been her “most successful marketing tactic to date.”
2. Laura Tariche / Koko Art Shop / Miami, Florida
With over 20,000 sales and thousands of 5-star reviews on Etsy so far, Tariche has been providing customers with colorful and creative home decor. According to Cedcommerce, she started selling on Etsy in order to make her products available to anyone.
3. Molly Goodall / Little Goodall / McKinney, Texas
As reported by the Today Show, Goodall launched her kids fashion company in 2010 after receiving requests from friends for her signature animal coats. She joined Etsy where she has had over 2,500 sales and hundreds of five-star reviews.
4. Kel Cadet / Rkitekt / Atlanta, Georgia
Cadet is an artist and mother who works with leather, wood beads to create colorful accessories. She created her brand to provide artful handmade accessories and has been on Etsy for over a decade, making almost 3,000 sales.
5. Kendra Jones / K.Jones Prints / Houston, Texas
Jones launched her art shop in 2020 after she was left without steady income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For her, it was a leap of faith that has “been a beautiful new journey.”
6. Hannah Oh / AllThatGlows / New York
Oh manages her Poshmark shop on a part-time basis and used her earnings on the platform to pay her college tuition and expenses. Since 2015, she has had over 3,500 clothing and homeware listings on the site.
7. Jovana Mullins / Alivia / New York
In an interview with Shopify Blog, Mullins noted that she founded her social impact fashion brand Alivia (powered by Shopify) in 2020 out of her apartment. Her foray into entrepreneurship was driven by a desire to build a brand to raise money for disability-focused non-profits.
8. Maurice Contreras / Volcanica Coffee / Atlanta, Georgia
Contreras was inspired to start a small business in 2004 which has grown to sell over 150 varieties of coffee. According to him, setting up his store on Amazon has provided ‘a new avenue of sales…and many new customers’.
9. Lesli Lenover / Macra YAY Macrame / Indianapolis, Indiana
Lenover began making and selling macrame as a hobby but now runs a successful business venture on Etsy with almost 7,000 sales. She told Alura that she is “really happy she jumped right into Etsy as a way to establish her business.”
10. Liana Carty / PacificSunset / Santa Barbara, California
Carty began selling craft supplies and vintage items on her Etsy shop in 2015 as a hobby. According to an interview with Alura, she turned to Etsy as her main source of income after being furloughed in 2020.
With all these online sellers depending on online marketplaces to sell their products online, now is the wrong time to make it harder for them to grow their businesses. Let’s hope Congress says no to the SHOP SAFE Act.
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