The handmade marketplace ArtFire will be shutting down at the end of 2021. Founded in 2008, the marketplace did over $250 million in business over the last 13 years according to a statement published yesterday by the company’s president and co-founder John Jacobs. He cited changes in regulations and the growing complexities of operating an online marketplace as factors in the decision. All existing accounts will be upgraded to the premium shop levels and fees will be waived until the closure. Jacobs did not reply to our request for comment.
ArtFire competed with Etsy which was founded in 2005. Over time, Etsy continued to gain marketshare, and today there are 7.5 million active Etsy sellers. Both sites feature handmade, vintage, and craft supplies. Artfire had lower transaction fees than Etsy but charged sellers a monthly subscription fee.
Other Etsy competitors have also fallen away over the years. Zibbet was sold to craft retail chain AC Moore in 2017 and relaunched as the AC Moore Marketplace two years later before closing when AC Moore went out of business. Zibbet has since been sold again, although the buyer hasn’t yet been disclosed.
A new handmade marketplace, goimagine, emerged in 2020 with a focus social good; all of the company’s profits are donated to charity.
Scott Zrubek has been selling on ArtFire since 2009. “I’ve been very active in the forums on the site and noticed a drop off in forum activity and increased response times from the ArtFire staff. It seemed a logical conclusion that they had reduced staff,” he said. “I think most of the previously active sellers have gone quiet on ArtFire due to a lack of sales. Also, updates to the site seemed to have dropped off in frequency over the past couple of years. If I sold two or three items per year, it was a good year for me.”
ArtFire jewelry seller Eileen Grobeck reacted to the news this way: “I learned about ArtFire shutting down from your email. ArtFire has not informed any of its sellers about this and it really makes me mad. I’ve had an ArtFire shop since October 2009 – 12 years. To be honest, I never did well on ArtFire. I guess they didn’t do much promotion even though they collected fees like clockwork. I feel very let down by them. Now I have to scramble to get all of my shop data copied and look for a new venue. All this during the busiest selling time of the year.”
Abby co-founded Craft Industry Alliance and now serves as its president. She’s a sewing pattern designer, teacher, and journalist. She’s dedicated to creating an outstanding trade association for the crafts industry. Abby lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
I’m not surprised. I didn’t choose them, because I thought competing with Etsy wouldn’t work. And the business model of monthly subscriptions didn’t match the amount of advertising they were doing. You cannot do what everyone else does and say you’re different. This is where handmade business get lost, in between vintage and craft supplies. Be Niche and be Noticed.
I just learned of shut down on Jan. 1 as artfire never notified their clients so we could copy our data. Do you know if there is a way i can get historical data or HTML of items at this late stage.
I’m sorry, but I don’t know. Maybe another of our readers will chime in with some help on this?
Hi can you do me a favor? I been trying to reach Artfire for a long time for an order I placed back in June 2021. I ordered a 6 disc CD player and never received it. Maybe they never sent it. So can you get in touch with someone from the Personnel dept. about this even though they shut down? My phone 815-372-5973
I don’t have any contacts there.
I’m a jewelry maker myself and only recently decided to start selling my work. I decided to start with Etsy first but for some reason, Etsy deactivated all of my listings saying I had violated policies. I then started a store on Artfire. Their listing buttons consist of one that says publish in tiny letters and one that publish and promote that’s much larger. My first 10 listings cost me $40 because fees were confusing. It made it seem like they would cost $4 each after promoting so many. I tried to get a refund due to the fact I live on SS which is a weekly fixed income of less than $100/week. They were pretty clear on their no refund policy and showed no remorse for their misleading web design. I’m hoping I can still file a claim through BBB however I doubt I will ever see that money. Not only did I lose money to them but I literally had no traffic if I didn’t promote my items. I sold absolutely nothing. It’s disheartening to finally find a career path you’re so passionate about just to find that market is made of vultures like this and being flooded by major corporations.
Very mad at how artfire handled this. I’ve been with them from the very beginning (2008!) … I had great sales in the first few years and only kept my shop open because I was a legacy member ($5.95/month) with low fees. My biggest complaint right now is that I have zero access to my client list and can’t retrieve ALL the hours of work I put into professional photos and listings. Not cool at all. Happy Valentine’s Day I guess!!
Adali – Aya Designs
I also was just surprised wow!
Agree with previous comments about artfire not notifying artists
Been with them since they began.
Such a mess!!
OMG I know completely… I signed up unknowing it was the week before they closed. I didn’t even get 1 item listed but still got charged the $40+ the second I signed up. How the hell will we ever get that $ back?
I was caught by surprise too!
I would love to find out if there is a way I can get ahold of my listing data.
I wish there had been a explanation email containing my data!
I just learned of Artfire closing too! I think I started up my shop sometime around 2012. I definitely would have saved my listings from my shop had we been given a heads up – a lot of time and effort went into creating the photos, verbiage etc. No notification is absolutely unbelievable!! I received only a “Sales Data” summary sent on 12/30/21, which I thought was really odd as they’d never sent an email with that information in years past. I usually made only enough in a year to offset the fees and considered it a hobby, but planned on dedicating more time to it eventually. SO disappointing and maddening that I can’t even get access to my prior customers email addresses to let them know how to get in touch with me or vice versa.
I ordered a couple of jerseys on Oct 22nd haven’t received them yet am I going g to get them or will I get a refund cause it’s almost been 3 months now?
That’s the responsibility of the store owner. Artfire was merely a place for stores to list. You should have contacted the merchant you purchased from. Hopefully you have their info from the transaction.
Problem is with that, you can’t get in touch with the seller either, so I got ripped off for $100.00. Thank you for being an HONEST site.LOL. another rip off
i’ve been a member of Artfire for years. What makes me mad is that I never once got notified of the shutdown
I’ve also been a member since the beginning – this was handled very badly. I’ve kept this site since the beginning, even though I have not been using it – but to not let us know in advance and let us get our information off is a terrible way of dealing with all of the clients who have been with them since the beginning – very very disappointed.
more than 12 years being with ARTFIRE and never received a shut down notification from them. That means we lost all our data and customer information/contact? there is no a way to contact someone to recover it?
Thank goodness I have all my photos on my own computer and used a spreadsheet to upload more than 80% of the 400 items listed! I also was a legacy artisan and at $72 a year I think my early years of sales more than paid for the latter one’s costs, but yes, sales dropped off a few years ago – significantly. I think I only sold 1-2 necklaces a year recently. They did stop taking fees in December and I suppose that should have clued me in. An email to all the shop owners in late December would have been a decent thing to do.
After finding out that Artfire had closed, I looked on line for conversations such as this, as I was puzzled, and upset at losing a platform for my knitting pattern designs. I am on a basic pension, and without Etsy, LoveCrafts and Artfire, I’d not have been able to manage other than the basic necessities.
What I did notice online were people lamenting that they were dissatisfied with Artfire’s service – what was odd was that the goods they were complaining about weren’t the sort of thing that I would expect to find on Artfire – computer parts, for example. Did Artfire open the doors to all sorts of sellers and I just didn’t notice?
As with many others, I am not happy that we were not notified of the closure – I had been with them from the beginning too, and wish that they would have had the courtesy to let us know.
I am also a legacy member and unfortunately I do not have all of my descriptions and details of the jewelry that was posted on the site. A heads up would have been the right thing to do.
I was a member of Artfire from the beginning too (legacy). I did okay on the site (even selling wholesale to businesses).
I sold greeting cards, gift tags, prints and some original paintings on paper, panel and boxes.
I joined Artfire because I was disenchanted with Etsy (Etsy was fairly new at the time too, and I preferred Artfire’s subscription fees to Etsy’s pay-by-the-listing). I felt with Artfire, I could grow my shop without it becoming prohibitively expensive.
Eventually I started a new store on Fine Art America and Pixels, and it was difficult to run both sites at once, so I often put my Artfire store on vacation and then eventually I ran out of greeting cards and gift tags, the products I sold the most. I wanted to transition my Artfire store into selling original paintings (only), since Fine Art America offered a greeting card option.
My plans were dashed, but on the other hand I feel like I got out of Artfire what I put into it. I’m glad there was an alternative to Etsy for awhile.
I was reliant on Artfire for a good small income since having a personal site is wonderful but being on a larger but not too large place was wonderful.
I found out when I went to log in and there was no site to log into. No data, no way to double check old orders. Thankfully I also have my work portfolio backed up but I really wish I was able to access my own history and data – I’d sold on there for years.
I was a legacy member as well, so my fees were “grandfathered”. I am shocked that they could not take the time to send an email to all of their sellers to let us know of the decision to close. If anyone finds a way to access our old shop files Please share.
Well that just sucks! And it figures, you made all that money from people, and how many actually recieved there item? I know I didn’t!!! Sent e-mail numerous times to the person I was supposed to get it from, never heard from them, and the same with you, never a respnce. So i got ripped off for $100.00 . Thank You
Just to clarify, we are not affiliated with Artfire.