So the news is finally out of the (handmade) bag... Over the past few months, the most exciting but worst-kept secret in Hudson has been the persistent rumor that Etsy, the wildly popular online marketplace for artists and artisans, would soon be opening an outpost in The Cannonball Factory on Columbia Street.
(In my own case, this was first whispered to me during the Valley Alliance’s Halloween benefit party in that location... Like many others, I was told to keep this “hush-hush” as the deal had not been finalized, and talking about it publicly might mess things up.)
After a Sunday post on The Gossips of Rivertown finally spilled some of the beans, Etsy founder and CEO Rob Kalin—profiled just last week in Crain’s—confirmed the rumors in an email to many Hudson business owners. Kalin indicated that the site currently employs 175 people in Brooklyn, and hopes to grow the site’s Hudson outpost to 50 jobs with real benefits.
In many ways, this welcome news confirms what those who pioneered the revival of Hudson in the 1980s and ’90s (and fought to protect the area from destructive proposals) always thought was possible... Namely, that if City residents kept steadily building upon Hudson’s unique history and architectural fabric, protected its community character, maintained an active main street full of locally-owned businesses, and took advantage of Hudson’s terrific location, the possibilities for attracting greener, more forward-looking businesses was boundless. Great businesses want to locate to great towns.
(Another defining feature of Hudson and Columbia County over the past dozen or so years is that there are an unusual and ever-increasing number of home-based businesses, “cottage” industries, and self-employed people here. So while Etsy addresses a global marketplace, it’s that much more of an appropriate fit for the region.)
For anyone unfamiliar with Etsy, their stated goal is “to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers.” The site, which now features sellers in 150 countries (concentrated in the U.S., the E.U., and Australia), aims “to build a new economy and present a better choice: Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.”
One feature of their website allows you to find craftspeople and artists by geographic location; clicking here will give you results of a search on “Hudson, NY.” This turns up many pages of results, though many are from the Hudson Valley rather than Hudson proper. Below are links to a few sellers who identify themselves as being in Hudson proper:
- Beetslive (handblown glassware)
- GretchenKelly (art)
- Lotusflwrs (antique and vintage jewelry)
- MaryZeeCrafts (aprons, tablecloths and other textiles)
- PKDesign (greeting cards and photography)
- Skylightdesign (pillows and embroidery)
The news has also caught the eye of members of the Etsy community, who have begun a discussion of Etsy’s plans here.