Hello friends old and new,

Today we’re making a sad but necessary announcement — Emptees will be closing on March 1st. I hope you’ll take a minute to read this post in its entirety.

The Past

Emptees started out in 2007 as a little side-project of Indie Labs (then just Eric and myself). We wanted it to be a place where artists could showcase the tees they’ve designed and hang out with their peers. The site took off immediately, and tee designers and enthusiasts were joining us from around the world. It was very exciting.

The Present

Today Emptees has over 40,000 people in its community, and they’ve submitted nearly 50,000 tees, 30,000 forum posts, and over 1,000,000 comments and tee shirt loves. Pretty amazing.

Unfortunately the news isn’t all good. Over the years Emptees has taken on a life of its own, and our once little side-project has gone a bit out of control. We greatly underestimated the amount of moderation and maintenance a community of this scale requires, and Indie Labs (now 9 people) has been so busy keeping up with the growth of Big Cartel that we haven’t been able to dedicate the time and resources needed to keep Emptees stable.

Because we've been unable to focus much on Emptees, the site has suffered from some severe performance issues, there are some very necessary moderation features missing to maintain quality control, we’re losing money every month from high hosting costs, the site has grown stale from a lack of new features and improvements, and worst of all, the community has grown increasingly negative to each other.

The Future

Part of the extremely difficult decision to close Emptees comes from a larger internal decision that we'll be talking more about soon, which is to do away with our parent company, Indie Labs, and simply change the name of our business to Big Cartel. This allows us to focus exclusively on Big Cartel and Pulley, and accomplish some of the huge things we have planned with such a small team. Our customers (including many of you) deserve that kind of dedication.

You may be wondering why we don't just sell Emptees. This is something we've looked into, but even if we found a buyer that offered a decent price (and wouldn't just whore the site out), the amount of time and money it would take to transfer our entire infrastructure, and the legal red tape we'd need to go through, basically take that option off the table. We even looked at giving the site away for free, but that was plagued by these same issues.

Instead, we feel that closing Emptees opens up an opportunity for someone else to do it right. Someone that can stand on our shoulders, learn from our mistakes, and build a curated community from the ground up that they are an active part in. Perhaps Band Job? I know Rob is cooking up some ideas now too. :)

Thank You

On behalf of the entire crew at Indie Labs / Big Cartel, I’d like to thank all of you for an amazing ride. We’ve met so many great people through Emptees, and it’ll be an experience we’ll never forget. Most of all I’d like to thank our amazing moderators. Rob, Jimmy, Derek, Joey, and Newman - we couldn’t have made it this far without you.

Please join us in the comments and share some of your Emptees thoughts and experiences. It’s the end of an era.


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