Like Fishing with Dynamite

Part of me thinks Etsy was deliberately designed to repel men. I know reading that must make the Etsy people cringe, but you have to agree that it is not the most “rugged” of places. With all of that said, I clean up over there on vintage stuff. Everything pictured here I bought in the last two weeks. It’s like fishing with dynamite over there.

All of this Etsy shopping makes me realize what a shit show eBay can be. Everyone is trying to snipe you on eBay and if you do happen to win you get ripped off on the shipping. It definitely still has an amazing power to deliver you anything you could possibly want at anytime, but the bay sure ain’t what it used to be.

It is amazing to me that Etsy hasn’t implemented some sort of section / tab for men’s stuff*. Maybe Etsy doesn’t care or maybe it is unnecessary, or maybe I am wrong and guys are shopping that piece like gangbusters. Either way, I’ll be enjoying my morning coffee from the set of enamel mugs I just acquired from the site.

*Any of the Etsy folks are listening, I’m down to assist on the guy stuff front – drop me a line.

This will be used for biscuit making.

Comments on “Like Fishing with Dynamite

    Andrea on November 5, 2010 12:21 AM:

    What’ll ya trade for the Swansdown measuring cup?

    Michael Williams on November 5, 2010 12:23 AM:

    What’da ya got?

    K a i t l y n on November 5, 2010 12:43 AM:

    They just launched a newsletter called “Etsy Dudes.” Hey, it’s a start.

    Andrew on November 5, 2010 12:49 AM:

    Do you have any tips for sorting through all the items? Keywords to use, tags to look for, etc?

    Victor on November 5, 2010 12:59 AM:

    What is the name of the cups in the first pic? Looks great.

    Nick Gill on November 5, 2010 1:56 AM:

    Cripes Michael ! Now me and every other mother father will be on there.
    Etsy, Shhhh!

    Christy on November 5, 2010 2:08 AM:

    Okay I’m a chick and I have to agree that Etsy is uber feminine in their aesthetic. Glad to see there is less dainty, delicate things to be found there.

    Justin on November 5, 2010 4:05 AM:

    I’ve been shopping easy for several years now. There are some nice prints to be had in the artwork on there. And the vintage stuff is great on there. The easy dudes newsletter just started as kaitlyn said. It has a bunch of staff picks for guys. I haven’t seen much on them that I care for. Hopefully now that you opened your mouth etsy won’t blow up and start to suck. Ha

    Fausto on November 5, 2010 4:08 AM:

    I’ve bought several vintage jewelry pieces for my wife on Etsy, as well as vintage pieces for my daughter’s room and the house.

    Etsy really is the best.

    conan on November 5, 2010 5:25 AM:

    very handsome. enamel is great !!

    TMH on November 5, 2010 7:23 AM:

    Nice lite Dude

    Thornproof on November 5, 2010 8:01 AM:

    Join the “Dudes” mailing list and unfortunately, just like most clothing and home goods stores are designed for women, so is Etsy. Just makes the hunt that much more interesting, since you have to venture into foreign and hostile territory ;-)


    Andrea on November 5, 2010 8:54 AM:

    2 Ball Perfect Mason quart canning jars, in blue glass, NOS zinc lids (or some nicely used lids, your choice.)

    Ramalhoni on November 5, 2010 9:09 AM:

    I’ve been taking a look at Etsy and could just find some nice wallets! a Dudes section would be a great idea!!! with some ties, maybe some leather goods like briefcases….

    E. Elizabeth on November 5, 2010 9:46 AM:

    I find the keyword search to be pretty invaluable on Etsy. While I try to label any of my items that might interest the dude set as “men” (which is a stock category on Etsy), I think few sellers will be thinking of say, enamel photo trays as inherently masculine. Best to search via material key words and then refine your search. Some folks are just terrible at tagging their items- which can work for or against you- so there is still an fun element of “digging” involved.

    cuyahogabend on November 5, 2010 9:51 AM:

    Well, if the Dudes newsletter is an automated item pull then they could add a “Guy” button on the left hand “Ways to Shop” panel.

    Dan McKinley on November 5, 2010 10:14 AM:

    We are working on a number of things to improve Etsy’s appeal to men, directly or indirectly. As noted you should sign up for the dudes mailing list (from here: if you haven’t. Since so many of my fellow engineers are male, and the founder of the company is male, this is kind of a no brainer for us.

    Josephine on November 5, 2010 10:46 AM:

    Uh, wow.

    I’m not sure I want to even get into why Etsy has a supposedly “feminine” aesthetic, and why you think that’s a problem. (Hint: It has a lot to do with how Etsy started and with the population that first flocked to Etsy as a place where they could try to both make some extra money and participate in a niche economy that had slightly less demoralizing values than the places they are usually forced to shop if they want nice things–women.) The implied devaluation of purportedly feminine qualities–and, by extension, of women’s handiwork and values–here is really off-putting.

    None of the photographs in this post are of things I would necessarily categorize as “masculine,” and really, if the idea of shopping for vintage enamel tableware without having it pre-sorted into some comforting enclave labeled GUYS is unpleasant, I would humbly request that you get over yourselves. Who do you think bought and used all that enamelware in the first place? Grandmas. Poor women. Rich women. A lot of women. Men, too, but if you think all “rugged” vintage items were primarily the purview of dudes, you’re just…wrong.

    There is certainly a lot of dainty, froofy nonsense on Etsy. There’s also a lot of screen printing and a lot of fetish gear. Are those things feminine? Is Etsy’s logo typeface just too girlie for you? How much, exactly, would you like to be coddled?

    What I’m getting at here is that it is disingenuous to complain about eBay–a place where larger market forces have *necessitated* very standard commercial categories, and where purchasing often feels like participating in a racket–and in the next breath deride Etsy for its still-very-loose adherence to market categories. Also, I rarely see “good” or rugged vintage wares tagged with gendered keywords on eBay, either. Wanting all the enamelware and butter churns and original Coleman lamps and metal flat-files conveniently plastered with “for Men” stickers is just selfish.

    If Etsy is foreign and hostile territory, as suggested by a commenter above, then I must be a fearsome beast indeed. Perhaps there’s a marketing approach to be had here, for those who find a retail environment shaped by female input somewhat distasteful: “Shopping Etsy? Bring your big guns.”

    Josephine on November 5, 2010 10:50 AM:

    And (apologies for double post): Clearly, many of the people involved in Etsy–its creation and its ongiong success–are men. No argument. My point about women being very important to the Etsy economy is more to do with women having huge motivations, both social and financial, to use alternative economies.

    Halberstram on November 5, 2010 11:12 AM:

    Josephine, less is more.

    Etsy, give us a leather chair and a television to sit in while the women shop.

    Michael Williams on November 5, 2010 11:13 AM:

    Clearly men have no need for alternative economies.

    Noble County Gold on November 5, 2010 11:27 AM:

    Etsy is my meal-ticket to early retirement. My wife has a shop and sell hers hand-knit goods and art.

    She agrees 100%, it is a site geared towards the women. I go on one/two times week, for great vintage finds. Guess now that Mr. Williams has let the cat out of the bag, those pcs I find will less and less or if the people on the site are smart, the $ will be higher and higher.

    Great finds MW.

    Ryan Drew on November 5, 2010 11:27 AM:

    Reach out to Fred Wilson ( Union Square Ventures funded etsy. He can most likely connect you to the etsy team (also in NYC).

    Jake on November 5, 2010 11:48 AM:

    MW sometimes I wish you would just keep the good things secret instead of blogging about them. I guess I’ll just have to bring my even bigger guns when I ford the new traffic river.

    William on November 5, 2010 11:51 AM:

    My etsy shop has been funding our vacation trips around the world – as well as a few other nice purchases so it is hard for me to bite the hand that feeds me. I do agree that a better search function needs to be implemented, but isn’t that always the case for an non curated site?

    P.S. Any recommendations on vintage inspired swim wear for said vacations?

    jbjones on November 5, 2010 11:54 AM:

    regretsy. just sayin

    Patrick on November 5, 2010 11:56 AM:

    As a long-time Etsy seller/buyer/supporter, I do agree that a “men’s” section would be welcome, but I slightly cringe at the idea of splitting products down a gender line. I’m sure Etsy can and will implement something more clever than just a binary choice of M/F. I might be slightly biased, as most of our products are M/F compatible.

    And what makes that stuff you posted masculine, exactly? I like that stuff, but my girlfriend would like it even more.

    That said, I think that Etsy was meant to be first and foremost a “handmade marketplace”, buying vintage has it’s merits but it’s kind of the wrong argument to make here.

    Love ACL, btw – and so does my girlfriend.

    Halberstram on November 5, 2010 12:09 PM:

    meh. i don’t feel the need to validate my masculinity while searching for knick knacks and curios online.

    Michael Williams on November 5, 2010 12:12 PM:

    Not so much about validating masculinity as much as it is about making it easier to find good stuff.

    Patrick — sounds like me and your girlfriend would get along really well.

    Halberstram on November 5, 2010 12:14 PM:

    good stuff = masculine stuff.

    you’re feisty today. watch out patrick.

    Brad on November 5, 2010 12:22 PM:

    Two words: advanced search

    If you’ve got specific materials in mind (waxed canvas, cotton duck, selvedge chambray and veg tanned leather are just a few of my favorite search terms), then the advanced search option is hands-down the easiest way to go (as well as alleviates the need for gender tags, which, I have to agree, are more than a little presumptuous). It’s how I’ve found every item I’ve ever posted.

    Patrick on November 5, 2010 12:32 PM:

    Don’t worry, Halberstram – I *think* he’s a gentleman. I think…

    Michael – you might. I’m not going to post it here, but you should come meet both of us at an event in BK some time in the future. I think all three of us have a lot more in common than you might expect.

    JLSLC on November 5, 2010 12:53 PM:

    If you buy into gender stereotypes, what’s wrong with making men “hunt” for what they want?

    Halberstram on November 5, 2010 12:56 PM:

    patrick – nice work on your site. and if that is your mustache, my compliments.

    Patrick on November 5, 2010 1:04 PM:

    Halberstram – many thanks. And proud to NOT be one of those new mustache posers – only shaved it off about 2-3 times in about 7 years (usually for Halloween). Actually, I’m not sure if that is something to be proud of…

    J. Albright on November 5, 2010 1:12 PM:

    Just discovered the beauty of etsy in the last month. Now every one will be fishing with TNT. Will there be any fish left?

    J. Albright Columbus, Ohio

    William on November 5, 2010 1:18 PM:

    Patrick – great collection. I especially love the process of your Spruce clamp on design milk. I agree, with your comments on the process being as important if not more than the end product.

    Jessica on November 5, 2010 2:06 PM:

    good buys! etsy would be pretty cool with a little ruggedness.

    edgertor on November 5, 2010 2:14 PM:

    I have had numerous conversations with people about this very topic after I had started my own etsy shop a few months ago. Most guys assessment: etsy is really geared toward the feminine, and this all starts with the homepage and what they put on it — and goes all the way down to the whole aesthetic of the photography on the site, from the individual dealers. The aesthetic aim seems to be primarily “dreamy” and “romantic”, even when they’re showcasing rustic materials.

    that and it’s a LOT of jewelry and wedding stuff.

    I had (and still have) a lot of classic heritage/americana vintage clothing in my shop from YEARS of collecting, but the pieces for men in particular are virtually ignored. I actually was going to wait until early december and then actually just list the men’s items on ebay. All the guys I know who buy vintage don’t even LOOK at etsy.

    (tiny plug: click on my name to see my shop, if you care.)

    Derek on November 5, 2010 2:20 PM:

    Early nominee for next round of Top 5 comment clusterfucks?

    William on November 5, 2010 2:42 PM:

    Knowing several people who have been laid off in the past year plus and have had to rely on their etsy store to get them through, it is no wonder that comments are a little heated. Add to that fire a splash of feminine vs. masculine gasoline and you have yourself a nice little bonfire to enjoy, no torchlight needed.

    CTP on November 5, 2010 3:21 PM:

    I think you’ll pretty quickly get bored of your coffee losing its heat in 3 minutes in those tin mugs… Still, they make nice toothbrush holders.

    Timothy on November 5, 2010 4:04 PM:

    Love your selections! You made out like a bandit.

    We did a furniture roundup and discovered quite a few items ACL might be into. Just gotta dig a little deeper.

    Ross on November 5, 2010 4:23 PM:

    Great. Thanks for letting the cat out of the bag. Etsy has been superior to the Bay for a while for good men’s vintage. It was good while it lasted I guess.

    allen on November 5, 2010 4:56 PM:

    Congratulations, you bought a bunch of junk over the Internet.

    frank pepe on November 5, 2010 5:37 PM:

    etsy is great but it’s no great secret. i dont think mike is blowing up the spot here.

    enzo the baker on November 5, 2010 8:06 PM:

    is it just me, or does anyone else see the irony of decrying a site for not being masculine and then posting a haul of vintage bake wares? i’m just saying.

    tiredofleans on November 5, 2010 8:47 PM:

    how can you even consider yourself masculine when all you do is shop or talk about shopping.
    go make something.
    and then maybe sell it on etsy.

    andrew on November 5, 2010 9:11 PM:

    When you go to flea markets do you ask the teller at the gate “the advanced search” teller that is : Where is the nicest selection Jadeite Milk glass punch bowls?
    Great site otherwise love the stuff but this just feels a bit lazy.

    Paul on November 6, 2010 3:01 PM:

    Michael, I for one applaud you for blogging about Etsy for men. I got my start selling on eBay and quickly migrated to Etsy. I have been remarkable successful there selling things that traditionally appeal to men. On Etsy my work really stands out amidst the mountains of jewelery and knitted stuff. Funny thing though is that I still make 85% of my Etsy sales to women (buying gifts for the men they love).

    slim on November 6, 2010 7:29 PM:

    Hey Josephine,

    Less testy.
    More Etsy.

    MarcoBerlin on November 6, 2010 8:07 PM:

    I met the Etsy guys presenting Etsy in Germany. Great people. Matt from Etsy actually just posted sth for MEN here:

    He wrote in German but anyways you’ll get the point. Etsy also has great products for men.

    Great post here!!

    mrbutter on November 7, 2010 1:24 AM:

    gotta say, etsy has, and will continue to be, a hidden gem for unique finds. obviously feminine and incredibly unfriendly to the average user (as though is was purposely designed that way by my incredibly feminist bitch of an aunt beth) it has an awesome way of making you search out whatever it is you happen to be searching for. i’ve been perusing the site for a few years now, randomly stumbling across great finds from vintage clothes to handmade colognes, and to be honest its considerably more fun than purposeful shopping on other designed for use sites. its like going to an estate sale of an old woman down the street. you know she has/had some gems because her old bastard of a husband yelled at you from his lawn chair in the driveway a few years back and she didn’t possibly get rid of anything because she must be a crazy old hoarder, so now you’re going to go scoop up all his cool old stuff because his kids were too busy/too lazy to care to take it.

    robbie on November 7, 2010 1:49 AM:

    Etsy can be a treasure trove, I have Fire-King on my etsy as well as other items I’d consider to be ACL approved… my wife and I share the shop so there is certainly a few girly items as well.

    I think if you take the time to search you can find a lot of great stuff, and like Mike said people aren’t gouging people on etsy… its quite a deal fairer than Ebay.

    meg on November 7, 2010 8:39 AM:

    it is definitely a pleasure shopping for vintage stuff on etsy, compared to yes! the shit storm that is ebay.

    tim on November 7, 2010 12:56 PM:

    Boy I wish you hadn’t have posted this. Some things need to be kept on the low. Ebay sucks

    Andrew M on November 7, 2010 5:10 PM:

    Should the real (and even older) cat be let out of the bag that goodwill has an auction site? Replete with terrible digicam pics from local Goodwills, and subsequently, occasionally amazing deals on things like vintage parlor guitars, 35mm cameras, and all-tube bakelite radios? Are those things GQ yet? Maybe if they are waxed?

    ill cassius on November 7, 2010 7:01 PM:

    Do you find good use for this stuff? It’s all nice individually but if I bought it all it would end up being labeled as ‘junk’

    The Bourbon Boxcar on November 7, 2010 7:45 PM:

    Finally someone looking out for us men on etsy. I find it a great pleasure to shop on etsy, so i decieded to open an all mens store myself. Its been open for a month and its doing great. Maybe even ACL approved.

    Trevor Triano on November 7, 2010 10:35 PM:

    hahahahahaha its true i just went to the website and immediately wanted to leave due to the girlyness. Im going to go back and have another look.

    Jason on November 8, 2010 7:45 AM:

    You people do realize that feigning some manicured psuedo-ruggedness (especially juxtaposed in an urban landscape) is miles more feminine than any owl-shaped tea cozy or hand soy candle could ever be…

    zissou on November 8, 2010 5:18 PM:

    I’ve been selling (and buying) stuff on Etsy for about a year now, and I think it’s fine the way it is. Most of the leathergoods I sell are fairly masculine, but I get a lot of women buying things for the men in their lives. What’s the point of a guy’s section, so we can easily go on there and buy *something*, rather than having an idea of what we want and then searching for it?

    Damion on November 8, 2010 8:33 PM:

    I think what the majority is trying to say, Mr. Williams, is fuck you for living.

    Jana on November 9, 2010 8:30 AM:

    [Herewith, a most likely unecessary long comment that I nevertheless feel inclined to complete. Maybe it’s the girl in me, crying to be heard… how feminine of me. Or maybe it’s my response, after reading ACL for so long, to the utter (and at times blessed) long windedness of your concept with my own longwinded retort.]

    I read ACL fannishly and had continued to do so with great respect until this post of a faux pas fell from the sky like a chunk of late-1950s male-attitude scrap metal and fell smack dab on my enthusiasm. I don’t think anyone would deign, or stoop, to accuse you of being too masculine, despite your penchant for glorifying the American Obvious and contributing to the New Heritage movement, in more of its maleness than its, let’s just call it non male-ness. Fine. It’s your blog. But you also are part of the grand mission to influence a new appetite for the same stuff. Aka the Plaid For Its Glorious Plaidness Should Cost a Lot of Money movement. A more obsessive AL fan may be able to point to comments #47 or #52 on a particular Sunday and show that someone has, however. And I mostly like your taste regardless, having grown up in Brooks Brothers, silly girl that I am.

    All sites have their ethos and it is a nice practice, in the 21st century — for crying out loud — to accept their leanings (hello), and yet try and avoid those old retro-vintage tropes of snap-judgement and establishment sneer-age that make the flip side of vintage so sad. That would be the ‘isms. The ‘isms, as in racism, let’s just say, or sexism, let’s just say, are what smear that heritage veneer just a giant bit. Those lovely hunting shots you keep posting with such reverence for the scent of Kodachrome: scratch a fellow in a perfectly worn and faded old duck hunting jacket and ask him just what he thinks of that new family moved in down the road? Noting against the guy, but there’s a whole package to be considered here.

    So the trick, as I see it, would be to avoid any leanings toward that rather unpleasant, American’s-worst-vernacular direction. Unfortunately you seem to be willing to not avoid. Are you so swayed by the beauty of a well-cut boot that you’re willing to vote the whole ticket? Which way, in fact, do you lean?

    What you say about etsy (ew, girls….), you don’t even say that well. You whine about it, and then your finds are completely domestic (ew, women’s work). Perhaps what makes them masculine is that they are well photographed? Or they lack flowers? But a flour sifter? Mr. Canvas Duck wouldn’t be caught near that back in the day. And you, mr. pitch-perfect quiet marketing guy, don’t even credit the shops you found them in (unless in my fervor I have missed something, in which case I apologize). You certainly don’t offer up any information about them.

    Is that for fear, possibly, of allowing the impurity of their more girlish (ew) wares of filtering into and polluting the boy’s club aesthetic of your stalwart blog? So you’re also not telling the entire truth here. How, sorry, but really — How incredibly and sadly and wrongly American heritage of you.

    You should be celebrating etsy. You should salute it.

    Gordon Ye Ole General Store on November 9, 2010 2:34 PM:

    Michael,Great kitchen gear we love that kind of stuff at our house. I must say, if I ever see you anywhere near a hornet’s nest, I will run the other way, as fast as possible!

    Ira on November 10, 2010 1:06 PM:

    Real (smart) men don’t give a shit about how their stuff is branded, as long as it gets the job done. A pink pair of gloves will keep engine cleaner off your hands as well as a blue pair.

    Also, this:

    “You people do realize that feigning some manicured psuedo-ruggedness (especially juxtaposed in an urban landscape) is miles more feminine than any owl-shaped tea cozy or hand soy candle could ever be…”

    roxy on November 10, 2010 1:43 PM:

    etsy doesn’t have a tab for ‘men’s stuff’ because… it’s weird and stupid to think that like, some cups and shit are men’s stuff. learn to use search terms related to your interests.

    nicole on November 10, 2010 1:53 PM:

    hey, insecure doods, man up and stop caring THAT much about where you bought some cool shit. what planet are you guys from where you think you’ll get teased for buying GENDER NEUTRAL COOKING UTENSILS?! come on…

    also “a men’s tab” for this site would be the stupidest thing ever given that there are tons of (straight) men on that site who make things (for men and women!) and don’t give a shit about stuff like this.

    Katy on November 11, 2010 1:39 PM:

    The best thing about etsy is this website ….. Where DIY meets WTF xx

    jarvis on November 12, 2010 11:00 AM:

    “You people do realize that feigning some manicured psuedo-ruggedness (especially juxtaposed in an urban landscape) is miles more feminine than any owl-shaped tea cozy or hand soy candle could ever be…”


    This whole “urban woodsman” and prohibition era trend is shit. what ever happened to the future?

    Hart on November 17, 2010 3:45 PM:

    Most of the time I find this site silly (lumberjack shoppers, this place is full of), but I have to agree with MW here. All he’s saying that for business purposes, Etsy would be smart to have some male-centric safety scissors-esque functionality.

    Whether you want to characterize that as patriarchal or that guys are soooo stoopid or whatever, it’s just good business sense.

    It’s what Gilt did, and they seem to be doing pretty well.

    MW’s comment was less a comment on gender values (which you people have seem to latched onto) and more of a plug for his pricey consultation.

    He wins.

    BreadandRoses2 on November 19, 2010 9:16 AM:

    I’m doing my best to cater to the male half of the equation on Etsy
    who appreciate utilitarian handmade from authentic deadstock vintage materials:
    selvedge chambray & denim, fine quality woolens plus recycled
    canvas. All the ‘heritage/americana’ hoopla is incidental to me since
    this is/has been my aesthetic for a long time. It works on a daily basis without being self-conscious.

    Etsy’s behind the curve on the male market but trying.
    Honestly, if goods are built to last & do the job, good looks are just frosting
    on the cake. And gender is (or should be) the least of considerations,
    except where apparel fit is concerned.

    James on November 29, 2010 1:44 AM:

    Etsy is a great site and was part of the inspiration for us to create a better marketplace for people who love bikes; hence eBay and Craigslist just isn’t cutting it for the biking set so we’re hoping to improve on the experience of buying and selling in a like minded community

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