While many companies are struggling to make ends meet amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought life to a standstill in many parts of the world, others are presented with an opportunity to leverage their strengths to help people cope with the crisis and maybe even take advantage of the unique situation. Etsy, the leading online marketplace for handmade goods and vintage items, is one such example. After crashing along with the overall market in the early weeks of the pandemic, the company based in Brooklyn, New York, saw its share price soar in April as thousands of sellers on the platform pivoted to selling handmade face masks.
After the CDC had officially put out a recommendation for people to wear “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain” on April 3, Etsy encouraged its community to help supply such masks to the public during this unprecedented crisis. “We hope that increasing the availability of fabric, non-medical grade face masks from Etsy sellers will allow more medical and surgical masks to reach the people who need them most: front-line healthcare workers,” the company said in a blog post on April 7, while also reporting that hundreds of thousands of face masks per day were already being sold on the platform. Between then and now, the number of merchants selling face masks on Etsy has grown from 20,000 to 50,000, as more and more countries have urged their citizens to wear masks outside their homes or even made it mandatory in places like supermarkets.
By now, millions of handmade masks have probably found their way to consumers around the world, helping alleviate the strain on traditional supply chains for medical masks while also helping Etsy’s share price to recover its losses and then some. On April 24, the company’s shares closed at $66.19, up more than 70 percent since April 3 and just $6 shy of its all-time high. While face masks will certainly help Etsy make up for some of the lost sales in other categories (wedding accessories are a prime example), the company’s CEO Josh Silverman admitted to the Financial Times that masks alone probably won’t be enough to salvage this year’s profits. Etsy charges sellers a $0.20 listing fee plus five percent comission for each sale.