Custom Makers! How was your Guild Show?

Feb 22, 1999
Since this was the first time the Guild Show held in New Orleans, was your business at this show up or down from last years or past Guild Shows? How was the floor traffic? Did you talk to many or any locals attending their first custom knife show or were almost all the attendees from out of state? How would you rate the show in general and what would be your first choice of city to hold the Guild Show?

Looking forward to your response.

Outdoor Edge Cutlery Corp.

David Bloch,

Visit our new web site at

[This message has been edited by David Bloch (edited 27 July 1999).]
This Guild Show was "down" from previous show sales (Las Vegas, Orlando),but, overall, I didn't do to badly.I sold enough to pay expenses and a few bills when I came back home.My wife and I have never been to New Orleans.It was a nice "Getaway".The locals sure act and dress differently on Bourbon St. than they do on Broad St. in Canfield Ohio!P.S. Hope you enjoy the fish (shark knife).I sold quite a few at the show along with a couple of hunting Knives and a lot of Kydex neck Knives.
For the first time there, this was a pretty good show for me. I took 9 knives and sold 7, so I feel pretty good about the show. The two I brought home were plain G10 scales, all the pretty ones sold.

The main reason I go is meeting old friends,
making new ones and purchasing handle material.

The best thing I can say about New Orleans wes the food was great!!Friday morning at10 am when the doord opened to the publick there was no one waiting to come in. Attendance did pick up but not like a normal Guild show. There was a definite absence of foreign buyers.Most of the traffic were tyre kickers and were not knife orenitated. I spent most of my time explaining what Damascus steel was and why it looked different than the other knives. By Friday evening I figured this would probaly not be one of my best Guils shows, and low and behold !! Some people sold knives, but some of the top makers in the country did not sell any.I had people around me that did not even collect a finger print on a blade.
After the show one of the board told me that over 50% of the table holders informed him they would not come back to New Orleans. It is serious enough that the board has already had two meetings to see if they can get the show moved.
I have done Orlando six times and Vegas twice and this show was not the caliber of the others.
To rate New Orleans...great food, and party hardy....the show to keep it clean....the show could draw 20lbs. of negative vacumm !!!!!
I'm going to be really interested to hear what more knifemakers / show visitors have to say about the New Orleans show . . .

I attended the 1996 Guild Show in Orlando and it hummed for three days running. Lots of folks from Germany, Italy, Japan and other far-flung places.

I was also in New Orleans 10 months ago and have to say that it is the singular most sleazy city I have ever seen (with apologies to any forumites who may live there!) and I've been to most of the major US centres, and a good few outside of the USA. The French Quarter in particular plays host to some of mankinds lowest forms of life at night. It is the only town where I have seen people openly drinking large quantities of alcohol in a public street. Strangely, the town "morphs" itself each morning into a more bearable lifeform! Possibly because everyone is still trying to recover from the night before!

Anyway, I have to say that I enjoyed the food, especially the muffelatta's, po-boy's, and the various cajun dishes.

Personally, as a non-USA resident, I don't think it is an appropriate city in which to host a custom knife show. I fully support the Guild's system of rotating the host city, but I don't think New Orleans is viable.

Regards, HILTON
The Guild Show has become a typical show. Some do good, some do ok and some do nothing.

The Guild did a great job of picking a hotel and ball room.

True, the customers were not there, but then again, it was a first year show.

Having promoted shows I can tell you no matter where the show is, it takes time to build a customer base.

I wonder how many of these makers that want the show to go back to Orlando are the same ones who wanted it to leave and go west 4 years ago?

Also, what did these makers do to get people to the show. Any phone calls or invitation's.

The custom knife buying public is not the same as 5 years ago. Because of forums like this and other places to get information. They now expect more for their money. They want new and innovative designs and ideas.

Many of the world class makers who attend the Guild Show once a year bring the same knives they have been selling for the past 10 - 20 years.

Many of the new knife makers in attendance are asking too much money for their knives.
As the line goes...."and you are? And I know you from".

My next question is, when the show goes back to Orlando, what happens if there are not 300 people waiting to get in, waiving $100 bills in the air?

If you return to the promised land and it no longer holds it's promise, then what.

There are now a lot more shows than there were five years ago. The internet now exsists where it did not 5 years ago. As for foreign buyers, what percentage of custom knives do they really buy? I find it humorous when I read a comment like that. More custom knives are bought and sold in the US then anywhere else in the world.

Why arent the foreign buyers coming to the US. It's the economy. The dollar is so strong it is not cost effective for foreign knife collectors to travel to the US.

There are custom knife shows in South Africa, Australia, France, Switzerland, Germany and Japan. A lot of these shows are well attended by US makers. So why travel to the US. Go to a local show or just get on the internet.

As for "tire kickers", don't you realize that these are the future knife buyers? Part of a table holders job is to help educate these individuals. As a dealer I have spent countless thousands of hours at shows, on the phone, faxes and email answering questions. Im happy to do it and Im not even the knifemaker. It does not bode well for a maker to say he is getting tired of answering questions about his work.

The custom knife market is shifiting. Lots of fresh ideas, new makers and new materials are making for a very competitive market. As with the evolution of a mature market the key phrase is "adapt or die".

I realize that I am in the minority, but I would like to see the show stay. Afterall this is what was agreed to. Instead of looking at all the negatives, focus on the positives. Let's try and create a new customer base before we move back to the promised land.

Les Robertson
Robertson's Custom Cutlery
I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.
Good comments, Les. Before any of us either started making knives or started collecting them, we all were tire kickers at our first shows. I can still recall, looking back 22 years ago at my first Guild Show visit, how gracious most all the makers were in taking the time to answer my simpliest of questions which were important to me in order to learn more about knives.

With the Guild Show being in New Orleans, it brought to mind one of my all time favorite knife show comments about the first New Orleans Custom Knife Show many moons ago back in the early 80's. That was the show where they assembled a room full of quality makers, then seemingly locked the doors to customers allowing all the makers time to get better acquainted with each other over the three days of the show (I did pick up one of my all time best customers at that show but I'm still not sure how he got in.). Anyway, by Saturday evening, as Frank Centofante had taken all he could stand and was leaving, he shared his comment on the show: "This show is like Pearl Harbor without the noise!"
My show was good. I sold out as I did in Las Vegas.
I thought the attendance was off but there was quality educated buyers there buying.

I liked New Orleans however I think the guild is off base by moving every 2 years. My opinion is it takes 3 years just to learn and see if the show works or not.

Hotel was good but I talked to some locals who said they thought the $17.50 parking fee would keep a lot of other locals away. Made sense to me for beginning buyers and just getting interested people.

I would like it to go to Phoenix or Seattle. Orlando is not the promise land. The promise land is where all the people live that you should send invites to be they your buyers or not.
However, I do not care if they have it in Little Rabbit Austrialia I will be there unless the board runs it into the ground.

I agree with Les in that the buying market is changing. More education is the key. Makes it easier as well.

Some people sell their knives because of high quality workmanship some because of their marketablity. If you cannot successfully market your own product on a regular basis you need a representive to do so for you. However everyone will have an off show on occasions. I just hate those. This one seemed to be off a bit for most everyone. Not enough pudding to go around.

Good food.
Some comments . . .

I hear what Les is saying and certainly agree that a 2-year "stop-over" in one city is not enough time to build the client base. The Guild Show seems to also spur on an increase in new knifemaking in the region in which it is based. A 3 or 4-year term would help consolidate that.

Regarding US makers supporting overseas shows . . . that is debateable. We've only ever had one US maker (not a Guild member) exhibit at a South African show in the last 20 years! You won't find too many of them in Aussie or Switzerland and Germany either, just one or two.

On the other hand in 1989 I personally saw an Italian dealer buy the entire table stock of one US maker within the 1st hour of the New York Show! He couldn't speak English, but walked around pointing out knives. His wife followed right behind with a bag of cash, paying for and collecting them. Seven years later in Orlando he was still buying knives like there was no tomorrow. Don't underestimate the European buying public.

I agree that competition has increased in the form of more makers, and more production setups, and more information over the Net . . . but I think the Forumites are in a different target market to the custom buyers. Here they get excited about good folders costing $300 - $400, at a custom show they start getting interesting at $1000 and the really worthwhile ones are up at $2000 - $3000 each! Rip-off prices? Maybe. And possibly that's why the Forums are so popular.

A question . . . we hear and read so much about the bubbling US economy (record Wall Street highs, record purchases of household goods, etc). If this is so then why are people not spending more on custom knives with all this new found wealth?

Regards, HILTON