Young entrepreneur ‘devastated’ as online platform shuts her shop

Abbie Vowles

An emerging entrepreneur from Derby says she has been left “devastated” after online trading platform Etsy shut down her virtual shop at the weekend.

Vowles moved into her own studio in October

Abigail Vowles had run her Abbie Rose Prints online shop on Etsy for three years, clocking up 25,000 sales – but she has fallen foul of a new initiative aimed at protecting buyers on the platform and had her outlet shut on Saturday evening (January 13).

Vowles told “In 2021, Etsy introduced the Purchase Protection Programme, a well-intentioned initiative meant to protect customers by offering a full refund if the received item doesn’t meet their expectations. Unfortunately, this program has been exploited by individuals seeking something for nothing. Over the past year, I have witnessed a surge in customers opening cases, and Etsy’s automated systems providing full refunds – all at my expense, despite the items being accurately described, delivered on time, and fit for purpose.”

She said the culmination of this struggle occurred on Saturday night when Etsy permanently shut down her shop, which sold her personalised prints. The action was taken in response to 10 cases raised, primarily due to mail service delays over Christmas, a factor which she says is beyond her control.

Vowles established her business in December 2020, a pivotal time as she was navigating the final year of my university studies. In October she moved into a studio space so that she could invest more into her business

She said: “The journey began with a heartfelt Christmas gift from my grandmother – £100, which I promptly used to purchase a printer.

“Little did I know, this humble investment would grow into a thriving business, amassing 25,000 sales, 4,000 reviews, and maintaining a commendable 4.7 rating over the past 1,095 days.

“This shop is my full time job and now the future is uncertain for me and my income.”

Throughout her three years of selling online, Vowles says she has paid Etsy over thousands of pounds in fees.

She told us: “Unfortunately, I can attest that, as a seller, I have never felt adequately supported by this platform.”

Since sharing her experience on Instagram and TikTik over the weekend, Vowles says she has gained over 3,000 followers combined and received “overwhelming” support from “hundreds” of messages.

She added: “Other businesses have expressed solidarity, with some vowing not to use Etsy anymore. On TikTok, numerous comments from fellow Etsy sellers have surfaced, sharing similar stories of Etsy’s lack of support. This highlights a widespread issue for small businesses on the platform.

“I believe that the public deserves to know about the challenges faced by sellers on Etsy and the need for accountability and transparency. Your coverage could shed light on the struggles of small businesses in online marketplaces and potentially prompt a reassessment of policies and practices as well as highlighting to small businesses selling on Etsy how important it is to also have a website, something I wish I had done a long time ago.”

Etsy has been contacted for comment.