eBay isn’t the only online marketplace laying down new law that can affect Pagan business owners. Etsy, a site for producers of handmade goods, introduced a new set of restrictions on August 8 that prohibits making medical claims about products. While FDA regulations regarding these products already establishes restrictions as they apply to purveyors of aromatherapy, cosmetics, and herbs, Etsy’s enforcement may extend to objects with folkloric associations, such as stones.
Says Lauren Engelheart, an Etsy Policy Manager in the Etsy forums, “A seller may not make claims that using their product (whatever the item may be) correlates with the cure or relief of a health condition or illness. This includes historical, folklore or “time-tested” claims that make a correlation between the product and the cure or relief of a health condition or illness.”
This does not mean, per Engelheart and the Etsy blog, that these items are banned. According to the blog post announcing the policy change and explanations from Etsy administrators in internal site blogs and forums, sellers of items such as tinctures and tea mixes will simply be asked to rewrite their product descriptions so as to remove any medical claims.
Herbal-based product business owners are expressing concerns about the new policy within Etsy and on Facebook pages. Says PhoenixBotanicals in the Etsy forum, “As an herbal crafter, I find the idea of being banned from listing traditional uses and folk lore of plants quite disheartening.”
The most frequently repeated concern by sellers in Etsy forums involves how the new policy will be enforced.
Alexis [who declined to be identified by a surname], owner of WortsandCunning Apothecary, says, “[Etsy's] answer to sellers has been not to offer clarification but to tell us that they will remove listings and possibly shut our shops down if we are not in compliance. The only way most of us will find out if we are in compliance is if are listings are removed and we are threatened to be closed by Etsy.”
Etsy management did not respond to inquiries regarding this article.
Update 8/20/2012 1:08 pm
Etsy officially declined to comment on this article.
Disclosure: Diana Rajchel is a former Etsy seller, and ran a perfume oil and aromatherapy business on the site from 2006-2011.