Arts and crafts retailer Michaels opens its version of Etsy called MakerPlace

It’s been two years in the making, but Irving, Texas-based arts and crafts retailer Michaels has officially launched its marketplace for makers.

MakerPlace by Michaels competes directly with marketplaces such as Etsy and follows the retailer’s addition in March of a third-party marketplace for craft supply sellers to quadruple its product assortment to more than 1 million items.

The new revenue stream for Michaels also offers ways for makers to earn extra money on top of selling their crafts by hosting classes and earning commissions on customer purchases from their supply lists.

Michaels was taken private by Apollo Global Management in a deal valued at $5 billion in April 2021 and has been looking for new sources of revenue. The company hasn’t released financial results since going private. Credit analysts have listed Michaels among leveraged buyouts challenged by higher interest costs. Michaels has about $4 billion in debt.

While Michaels is the largest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, it’s an upstart in the marketplace business that’s seen recent entrances from Macy’s to Walmart. Etsy, which had more than $13 billion in sales flow through its platform last year, said in August its active buyers reached an all-time high. More than 60% of Amazon’s online sales are from independent sellers, most of which are small- and medium-sized businesses, in its marketplace.

MakerPlace “deepens our ability to support customers in all of their creative pursuits, whether that be learning new skills, discovering handmade goods or growing their own handmade business,” said Ashley Buchanan, CEO of Michaels.

The platform will sell handmade goods, artist-led classes, how-to guides and Michaels’ supplies and equipment on one platform. Categories include jewelry, home decor, art, accessories, crafts, bath and beauty, and clothing.

“MakerPlace provides a new way to buy and sell unique handmade art, gifts, goods and classes while empowering our customers to directly support or become handmade sellers themselves,” Buchanan said in a statement. MakerPlace has been in beta testing for three months.

Research showed Michaels that three out of four makers believed there was a void online, said Heather Bennett, Michaels executive vice president.

Other issues, Bennett said, were with existing platforms “charging high upfront costs, increasing fees for product listings and competition with an overflow of mass-produced goods.”