Knife Retailers...... Part DUH!

Oct 2, 1998
OK we seem to obviously have our favorite dealers on the net and we choose to buy from them for many reasons and choose not to buy from others for several similar reasons.

I ask each of you to tell us what the dealers can do to make the online knife buying experience a positive one. Maybe they can read this thread and make their sites better, the customer service better and the like. Then this thread could be simply emailed to them to help them out as constructive critisism.

Points which should be covered:
Pick your favorite dealer and list why you like that dealer. No names necessary unless you want to.

Then pick your least favorite dealer and list why you do not buy from them. No names necessary here as I am sure they can figure it out and I don't want a burning thread.

Cover points like there web site layout, ease of ordering, do the have an 800 number, pictures on there site, do they answer the phone and email, how fast do they ship, are they knowledgable about their products. You know the drill. Have fun.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Lead - Follow or get out of the way!

While price is always a concern,I like to have a lot of techinal data avaliable.(Descriptions,color pictures,lenghts,deminisions,weight.rockwell,blade material)fast delivery is importent.I like sites that are easy to engines are good too.sites that have specials pages always get bookmarked.just my .02
My all time favorite online dealer is Bruce from Bullman Cutlery. The reason I like him is because he communicates with me whether I order a 10 dollar item from him or a 110 dollar item. His selection is good, and what he doesn't have on hand he researches to see if he can get it for me and if he can get it for me at a good price (I say "me" but this is true for all his customers).

He has specials on knives and other items on a regular basis and he updates this page often so it's fun to check every day to see what kind of "treasure" awaits.

When I place an online credit card order, I get the canned email confirmation from his site, but Bruce goes the extra step and emails me himself to let me know that he received my order and when I may expect that order to arrive. If he doesn't have an item on hand, he will tell you when he expects to get it in and he'll be sure to set one aside if you still want it. His packaging and the speed of delivery are outstanding. Those rare times when a problem comes up in a product, he stands behind his sales 100% and works with you to conclude the transaction in a way that makes YOU feel satisfied, sometimes even when HE has to take a loss. His bottom line is customer satisfaction and he consistently delivers. I recommend him to all my knife buying friends and they've all experienced the same level of excellence every time they've dealt with him.

As for bad experiences with dealers, I have had few. I think my worst experience has been with a certain 'net dealer who advertises here and on the newsgroups. They have an extensive list to choose from, but most of the time, in my case, anyway, those items are not in stock but you don't know that until you get your order a month later and figure it out. Slow service and their lack of communication are my biggest complaints. When I order by credit card, I don't get a confirmation email to let me know my order has gone through. I get no communication from the folks there at all, no time when I can expect my delivery, no reassurance my CC has gone through, nothing. Than I am faced with a wait of up to 3 or 4 weeks with no explaination. The products I have ordered from them (before I discovered Bullman Cutlery) have been good products, but it would've been nice to have some sort of confirmation of my business. I believe they are honest people but they should work a bit harder on customer satisfaction.

Thank you for posting this topic, Mike!

I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.

[This message has been edited by Sage (edited 16 December 1998).]
I am in aggreement with Matt, Mike. Two other things that I also look for is links to the manufactures sites with detail descriptions and plenty of real pics (scans) of different views of the knives, not drawings, or cartoons of them. This way you can really get a bird's eye view before buying.

Another thing, all dealers should price match others. Sometimes certain dealers may be out of the item so another dealer would then be considered if the prices could be matched. Depending on how fast or bad you want a knife, sometimes placing a backorder to save from going to another dealer may be worth it, especially if that other dealer won't price match!

< Doug >


Thanks for this opportunity Mike. The most important thing to me when buying on the net is: COMMUNICATION!

Buying on the net is still new to a lot of folks and when the company takes the time to get back with you, give you updates, lets you know the order was placed and when it goes out that takes the fear out of web buying for me.

For example, Bruce Bullman from Bullman Cutlery is that kind of person. He may not always have a picture or the technical data posted on his site but all you have to do is ask and he will get back to you--very quickly. He encourages follow up questions no matter how small and you never feel like you're being a pain in the butt. I want my dealer to communicate with me. So overall I guess I can always find a pic, get the data and find a competitive price, what you always can't get is a dealer who will talk with you within a very reasonable period of time. The example I cited with Bruce is the reason why I go back to him.


Greg Mete
Kodiak Alaska
An Internet Dealer that STOCKS every make and model of knife including high ends and customs. Even an Internet Dealer that does stock and not just orders the items after their customer orders from them.

ABC-DIRECT would be my #1 Choice. They stock the majortiy of knives, espcially high end knives. Bullman Cutlery is okay if you are not really looking for high end or custom knives. None listed on their web site.

I know I am asking toooo much here. But you asked!

There are some knife dealer that I like better then others but NONE of them are as good as other online sellers, ie Go to there site and order somthing then compare it to any of the knife dealers.They have an auto e-mail when you order, you know it was not lost, and when it ships they e-mail you, and something that is real important to me is when you get your order the paper work doesn't have your credit card number on it. You know when someone steal your package, with most knife dealer they have your package and your credit card number, not good. This seem like a little problem but some will send the number even if you ask them not to. I have e-mail some of them on this and most did not answer me, some said they would do what I ask(then didn't)others said they had to, to keep track of orders. I just bought a covert from ABC-Direct, price was good but have not got anything back from them to know if it went thru. Like I said all of the dealer need to go to and see how they do it!

[This message has been edited by gregj62 (edited 16 December 1998).]
I've got some easy criteria for my favorites;
Customer service
pretty web site
lotsa pictures
lotsa information
Customer service
And these folks hit it spot on;
Knife Center
Chai Cutlery
Triple Aught Design
Discount Knives

There have been a few less satisfying encounters with other web storefronts, but only ONE each, in most cases they put themselves out of business. Most web people are very honorable in my experience.
I agree with alot of what is being said. The only big problem I do see is that demands on our suppliers to make things this way, or that way, generally translates to price increases to cover overhead. This is kinda like all the pretty amenities in the mall compared to the same stock being displayed in some guys home shop. Make the guy with the shop in his back yard provide cash register receipts and pretty glass cases and before long the deals start to slip away.

To gregj62:
Do you think this industry could produce the volume to cover an of knives? These sites cost big bucks.


One more comment about sites like Amazon; they are not forecasted to make a profit for at least 10 more years since they are growing so rapidly going from books to videos to gifts and I believe they're going to get in software. Our friendly web site knife dealers are usually pretty small and need to turn a profit to survive.

Another thing, there are web dealers Greg, that do exactly what Amazon does, only it's personal emails not auto e-mail.

I appreciate reading what everyone is posting.


Greg Mete
Kodiak Alaska
I don't care about good looking web sites. Don't get me wrong. I definitely want to see the knife but, if the dealer doesn't have a picture, I should be able to find it somewhere else.

The most important thing that I want is honesty in commuications. I've caught retailers in lies that would be so embarassing that even I would be embarassed pointing it out to them. Don't lie about delivery dates, when you're going to get it in, that you know you can get it, when you sent it, etc. I try to do business with someone more than once before I make up my mind about them. However, this usually backfires on the retailers because I see their same games the second time!

I know the knife business, as well as any business, can be tough. The buyers are playing the game of, "But I can get it cheaper at ... " My feeling on this is that if you're a retailer and you get that kind of business, it will leave you just like that (snap of the fingers). If you get the people that are not just looking for the cheapest prices but, just "fair" prices, good service, ... they will probably be a hell of a lot more loyal even though it will take longer to get them. The retailer will build up a stronger customer base. Along the same lines, all of the aforementioned lies (and the other "usuals") probably work most of the time but, they are bringing in the wrong type of business.

... and another thing. I want the retailer to appreciate my business. Maybe it's because recently, I have bought alot from the cheapies and they're only making "a few pennies" but, sometimes I feel like they could care less if they made a sale or not. An example is answering emails. First, answer it--I've had a few unanswered emails from retailers. Second, read the email. Sometimes, I'll ask several questions in an email and only get a response to one of the questions or a response to a question that I didn't really ask!

My $0.02,


[This message has been edited by Bernie (edited 16 December 1998).]

Thanks for the thread!

Greg and Sage have hit salient points for me, so I won't beat them to death by repeating everything:
- communication including order confirmation, status, helpful hints on products
- clearly stated policies for shipping charges, returns, etc.
- involvement on the forums helps me get to know them which I appreciate
- lack of ridiculously high deposits on future production items

I've enjoyed my dealings with Frank Norman of Little River and Bruce Bullman of Bullman Cutlery. Recently had the pleasure to deal with James Mattis of Chai Cutlery. These three are all extremely helpful, personable and forthright. I'm told Howard of the Knife Center is also great to deal with. ABC-Direct was quick and efficient in handling the one order experience I've had with them.

Sage's comments about a specific dealer who lists are long but stock is slim is compounded by a seemingly indifferent attitude towards customers should he encounter delays or problems securing product to satisy an order. Folks like this we can do without. Price isn't always the bottom line for dealer selection. My more specific comments about this situation are to be found on the individual for sale forum.

To me it's simply a matter of common sense. If a dealer walks the talk about wanting to be helpful and cares about his customers, he'll find the right way to touch them. On the other hand the character who hangs out a web banner and expects a one way flow to him ought to see a shrink.


Bald is beautiful! Rub a dome for luck today!

I had placed an order with a `net dealer that advertises quite a bit here and in the newsgroup, and had the order go south , and I'd be quite reluctant to order again from this dealer. The main problems were:
- ANSWER THE PHONE, or have someone answer it for you, or have an answering machine and use it.
- reply to e-mails in a timely manner. Someone shouldn't have to e-mail two or three times and wait several days for a response, just to find out that the dealer had no idea or didn't keep track of what was ordered.
- have the product in stock. Don't promise shipping times based on a SWAG when a product will reach you and you can turn it around to the customer. (Why does 2-3 day priority mail for in-stock items result in a promised delivery time of almost a week?)
- be honest with the customer (probably my main gripe). If something's not in stock or back ordered, say so. Two of the items I ordered were to be gifts. They never arrived in time. I don't appreciate being put in this position.

Bottom dollar prices aren't as important to me as prompt, reliable service, and the feeling that I'm building a customer-business mutually beneficial relationship. Other things that I like to see in a website would be:
- pictures. Don't have to be huge or show every single option/variation/etc., but some image of what you're looking for would be appreciated.
- some sort of technical specs. What blade steel? Handle material? Options and blade configurations?
- manufacturers links. Either on a separate links page or with the specific brand category of the website.

Luckily for me, there are a number of Internet dealers that get consistently good marks, so I don't have to look far for who I want to send my business to. I mean, most of us usually need a regualr new-knife fix, don't we?
Well as far as the sites like costing big money I knew that would be said but I don't think it cost as much you think. just good planning. If they got a search engine and secure server that is most of the cost so making it more like would not cost much more, just better planing. But I did get an e-mail from ABC telling me my order was sent and they gave me a tracking number, which I like. So they are front runners in the dealer I would pick. But I Still think ALL dealers have room to improve.
*Especially* if I'm shopping for something mechanically complex like a linerlock folder, for me there's just one choice:

James Mattis.

His rep for integrity is unmatched. He does a "final inspection" before shipping, and often returns pieces to the factory before a customer has even *seen* the defect or been inconvenienced in any way. If I'm buying a Benchmade or other piece with a rep for "the occasional lemon" he's the only alternative to me hand-picking one at a local dealer.

If that wasn't enough, he's done specific "trouble bulletins" here and on rec.knives on pieces HE SELLS, most recently the Ken Onion Kershaw and a serious potential safety problem. I have *never* seen a dealer do anything similar, *ever*.

Becoming an expert on the knife laws of his state is one other example of his obsession with customer service.

I haven't yet needed to order anything he sells but if I do, he's the absolute #1 choice, price be damned and even those ain't bad.

Jim March
I got my covert from ABC and they did include my credit card numbers with my order. Am I the only one that see a problem with this? This way when the ups guy steals your knife they have your credit card number too, you wouldn't want them to stop at one knife would you? I know my sacrifice will help the knife business out. I don't want my card number sent thru the mail or ups, what is the point of a secure site if you just give out my number? What is worst is it was on the out side of the box. I didn't e-mail and ask them not to, but I shouldn't have to. I will give them one more order this time I will ask them not to put my card number with the order. This is not normal, I buy more stuff online then I do any place else and the only places I have trouble is knife places and real bad places. I live 60miles from any real town so I do buy most stuff online, but I think I am about done buying knives online, just to much risk. It is not worth it!

What you are saying about sending your credit card number (receipt) through the mail with your knife not being a good thing, I might and might not agree with that.

My distributor that I have been dealing with for a long time now, always sends my credit card slip with the number on it with my order. At least 2 if not 3 other MAJOR catalog dealers I used in the past to order from also did this same practice.

If by a long shot some one did get your credit card number, most credit card companies won't hold you to any charges placed with your card if it was stolen or If an unauthorized individual used it. They have forms for contesting the charge.

Even secure web sites can still be broken if some one wants your card bad enough. Even over the phone, your card number can be retreived by an expert.

If you mail in your orders, you also have to put your credit card number on the order form. So, in other words, as long as you are using a credit card, there is no safe way of giving it out, because there is always somebody that can swipe it and use it before you realize it.

I wouldn't worry about it, your credit card company has you covered!

< Doug >

Knife Collectors are sharp people!



I do worry and the reason is a lot of time I don't use a real creadit card I use a check card it is were they take the money out of your checking account. And there is NO protection on those cards if they get my number they can get everything in my checking account. And just because your distributor does it does not make it right. The ones I deal with usely send me my receipt back, but will blacken out all but the last 4digs, that way you know what card you used and somebody can't use your numbers. There is no reason to have all the numbers on the receipt. And if you don't think it is a big deal how about post your card numbers on the formum. And don't think it is a long shot. DO a search on card theft. it is bigger then you think. Plus it would not cost them any more money to not send all the numbers. That said why do they? I think because they just do not think it is a big deal. You don't and you are wrong! It is a big deal. if it keeps up I will not buy anymore knives online!

Didn't want to tick you off....that wasn't my intention. All I was saying is that no matter how you order with a credit or check card, online, via phone, sending in the mail on an order form, someone can still get it!

If that ever happened to me, hey, I'll let the credit card company and their attorneys deal with it! Maybe even the dealer would have to jump in, too.

As a note, I would much rather call in the order than online. There is no such thing as 100% secure ordering on line.

Some companies even keep your card on file so when ordering again, you don't have to give it out. No, there is nothing wrong with a company not sending your card number back to you, just let them know at the time of your order, I am sure any company will abide by your request if they want your business. If not, then they are not worth ordering from.

Just trying to help here!

< Doug >

Knife Collectors are Sharp People!


I might have overreacted but I know that nother is 100% but why ask for trouble? I can't call cuss I leave for work at 5:45am and don't get back intill about 5:30pm most places are closed by then. So I have to use online. The only places I can get are on the west cost time diff and all.