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Regretsy was a website dedicated to highlighting bizarre, weird or offbeat items offered for sale on the handmade and vintage marketplace Etsy. During its run from September 2009 to January 2013, the site posted hundreds of items with snarky commentary, which eventually led to a book deal for the blogger April Winchell. The site also raised thousands of dollars for charity.
Thee days before the site went live on October 1st, 2009, Regretsy posted its first item, a pair of custom Twilight-themed Converse sneakers with a portrait of Edward and Bella hand painted on the side. The commentary called them hideous and suggested anyone who would wear these in public would be subjected to getting beat up regularly. On October 4th, 2009 the owner of the shop commented on the post, noting she considered the shoes a practice piece and felt like the art was terrible compared to her later work.
October 2nd, the day after it went live, Regretsy was picked up by Buzzfeed. The following day, a thread about the site appeared on Etsy where it was met with mixed reviews while Jezebel pointed out the site’s policy of not linking to the items featured on the site, comparing the site to the so-bad-its-good mantra of sites like Cake Wrecks. That month, Regretsy appeared on a number of news media and culture blogs including MediaBistro, Apartment Therapy, Gizmodo, Gawker, CoolThings, the Examiner and Urlesque.
The author ran the blog under the pseudonym Hellen Killer until November 20th, 2009, when she was revealed as American actress and radio personality April Winchell, the daughter of voice actor and ventriloquist Paul Winchell, in a Wall Street Journal article about her landing a book deal for the blog. The book titled “Regretsy: Where DIY Meets WTF” was published on April 6th, 2010 and was met with mostly positive reviews, earning an average of 4 and a half stars on Amazon and an average of 3.87 stars on GoodReads.
On January 28th, 2013, Winchell announced in a blog post that she will be closing down Regretsy, citing her upcoming lead voice acting role in an animated series by Lauren Faust and Craig McCracken. She also noted that she had no more jokes left about crafting. On February 1st, 2013, Regretsy was completely archived and Winchell reactivated her personal homepage, reestablishing an archive of her radio work. The announcement was subsequently picked up by Wired UK, The Daily Dot and Make.
Regretsy began fundraising in December 2009, through donations as well as through purchases from their Zazzle shop. By August 2010, Winchell also incorporated eBay auctions to raise money into the mix, raising more than $10,000 for a number of charities. In April 2011, the Regretsy community set up a Etsy shop named April’s Army, which also sold items dedicated to raise funds for Etsy sellers in need of help. However, it was closed down by October 2011 and transferred over to an official Regretsy shop. As of February 2013, Regretsy had raised more than $250,000 for more than 40 charitable projects.
Following a Christmas fundraising campaign for needy families collected via a PyaPal donate button, PayPal froze Regretsy’s donation account on December 4th, 2011, claiming that the site should have used a “Buy Now” or “Shopping Cart” button instead, as use of the donation button was limited to non-profit organizations. Regretsy was forced to refund thousands of $2 donations by hand, having the contributors donate again through a separate button. She also highlighted several snippets of her conversations with PayPal support (shown below) in a separate blog post. The following day, The Consumerist featured a story on Regretsy’s frozen account, causing internet users to send complaints via Twitter and take to PayPal’s Facebook page, bashing the company. On December 6th, PayPal issued an official statement noting that all of the funds had been released. They also offered $100 donations to each of the 200 families the money was intended for.
Within the first week, Regretsy had more than 15 million hits and within a month, it was ranked 4514 on Alexa. Just after the site’s closure, Regretsy was averaging nearly 202,000 visitors per month according to Quantcast data and had an Alexa rank of 10,897 in the US.
Wall Street Journal – Regretsy Creator Revealed: April Winchell Discusses New Book Deal
The Daily Dot – Snarky crafting site Regretsy closes up shop after 3 years
Digital Life on Today – Why PayPal’s bad reputation is bigger than Regretsy
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