If you've been looking for for a hand-sculpted Gothic dragon weathervane, you now have a new way to find it: Amazon's Handmade online store. As rumored earlier, the new venture has arrived in response to the success of Etsy, the artisan-goods company that just went public with a massive $3.5 billion valuation. The store is divided into seven categories, including jewelry, home decor, artwork and furniture. That'll give you a chance to find some one-of-a-kind paintings, along with items like leather magnetic cuffs, walnut rocking chairs and a beer growler holder.
Amazon has 80,000 items in the store already from artisans in over 60 countries around the world. The company told the NYT that "you can think of it as a factory-free zone... we're going to launch with an experience that's very different." The retail giant has promised that every item is genuinely handmade, and every artisan has a profile on the site so you can see how they make their items. Meanwhile, Etsy recently allowed vendors to outsource manufacturing, and has faced questions over counterfeit goods on its site.
However, artisans have expressed concerns over the higher fees that Amazon charges, and think that the corporate vibe doesn't mesh with craft culture. Either way, Etsy will be in tough against Amazon, which is the largest retailer in world and has over 10 times the customers of its artisan rival.