Price-induced luxury choices - quantity vs. quality


Jan 13, 1999
Where I live imported cutlery is rather expensive. $325 for a CS Trailmaster and $240 for a BM ACFK in local shops. Now, the only sensible solution is of course to order from the US, but this I really haven't dared/bothered to do until recently. My discovery is that even with customs and toll, this makes for _very_ competitive prices.

As I see it, I now have 3 possible ways to do this:

(1) Buy the same number of knives of the same quality I would have bought here at home, and be happy about all the money I saved that can be sucked up in this whole living-eating-studying thing I'm involved with.

(2) Buy as many many mid-quality knives as I can and be happy that I now can afford about twice as many knives.

(3) Buy a few select knives of high quality at prices which would have bought me
twice as many mid-quality knives at home.

I'm kinda leaning towards number 3, myself. I got my Mad Dog ATAK2 from AZCK last friday (very nice and sturdy btw), and I'm awaiting an RJ Martin Kozuka from Les in a week or so. Then I will have to wait until over the summer to get any more.

How about it folks, what would be your choice?


[This message has been edited by AB (edited 02 March 1999).]
Hello AP: Go for NO.3.. You can only use so many knives, so make them count!! Choose carefully and the only problem you will encounter is which one to use today!

My two cents.......
buy the best,the heck with the rest.
Buy the best and you'll never be unhappy with it

Gregg Lane
unemployed salesman,
any work done.

I agree, go for the third choice. After a bit of outright rabid accumulation, joy in numbers alone, I'm shifting to handmade knives and a few excellant production pieces.
There won't be as much quantity, but lots more quality.
Carefully define the job/task you want the knife for. Then go ahead and bye the knife that calles out. Sometimes the best is not always the best choice.
I would say option #3 also, but maybe now and then a #1. I get antsy when its been awhile since my last new knife. Every now and then I like to get something new, even if it only cost $20.00. But I imagine $20.00US is $60.00 your price. I guess at the prices you pay I'd rather be spending my money on excellent stuff also. Sorry for rambling, but its early.
Quantity or quality - always the question. If you lean towards knives as art, then quality, by all means. If they are tools, then buy the ones whose designs fit your needs, including a usable quality.

I lean towards the quality knives, but also buying one cheap knife, to remind me why I'm willing to spend more most of the time.

Besides, if/when you break the cheapie, that becomes valuable precedent for bringing more (and more expensive) knives home in the future. You have to plan for a decent addiction, and it's never too early to start.

[This message has been edited by Walker (edited 03 March 1999).]
AB -Where are you? Spyderco's policy with international distributors is to monitor their pricing. I guess you could call this price fixing (in the opposite direction), but Spyderco distributors are not permitted to gouge the dealer or the ELU. Shipping and duties shouldn't double the price of a knife in your country.

Perhaps you should contact the manufacturer and let them know that this problem exits? They may need to look into their distribution more closely. If the manufacturer doesn't choose to get involved, then by all means, choice #3 should provide the most "real" pleasure and "real" value for your investment.
Or do the prices cited above include not just shipping and import duty, but also that dreaded European Valued Added Tax? That, for Yankees here who haven't met it, is a sales tax on steroids. When you hear that some USA tax reform advocates want to enact it here as a substitute for the income tax, you get the idea.

Shipping and import duty are definitely not the main problem here in Norway. We have the pleasure of a 23% 'merverdiavgift' which should translate exactly into 'value added tax'. We also have a sturdy income tax. During the last years before my dad retired as office manager, his income tax was somewhere around 40%.I believe this qualifies us for the dubious honor of having the worlds heaviest taxburden ...

So Sal, even though my Spyderco Civilian cost me roughly $240 at the local bladepusher, I'm sure it was not because of anyone's greed but that of my government.

I just have to chime in here. I spent 6 months in what was then West Germany. Everything was terribly expensive and, the main culprit was not price gouging, it was taxes, plain and simple. Clothing, shoes, you name it, they were all expensive. Changing brands and stores did little to help this situation.

To your choices....
Buy quality pieces from a US dealer who can give you good service and put what you want and need in your hands at a good and fair price. It's nice to have a cheaper knife to strip wire with but, once you taste true quality you are apt to put all your lesser knives on the for sale board to get just one more "good" knife. When I look at all the money I have spent on good mass production pieces, I am glad my collection isn't larger. Once you own a great "custom" knife that far surpasses the expectations that have developed with good production pieces, you will be glad you saved up your money and waited for that truly great knife. But, what do I know ... all my friends think I have gone off the deep end with this knife stuff :)


[This message has been edited by Sid Post (edited 03 March 1999).]
I want to respond to this thread, if for no other reason, than to provide a dissident voice to the all too common, and all too commonly wrong advice that "you get what you pay for".

Buying only quality goods is usually, (but not always) very sage advice, but the devil lies in trying to figure out where quality lays.
For instance, I've seen a good many high priced knives that couldn't deliver the quality that some very, very inexpensive knives offer.

There is a certain amount of inevitetable "mission creep" when one starts learning more and more about knives, and what they really can be had for. But I'd caution you not to let the seemingly low prices, drive you to buy things just because they seem to be 'bargains' (at about 3-5x what most saavy US 'net customers would willingly pay.)

I've been a 'bargain hunter' for too many years to tell. However this year's motto is not to order any knives lest I'd willingly pay retail for them even though I can get them much cheaper. Then, when I've made that decision, that yes, this knife *would* be worth MSR, _then_ I shop for the best price and act accordingly. What this philosophy does is insures that I only buy stuff that represents true value, rather than just whatever is offered at low cost, today.

Actually, the above concept is somewhat wrong. Generally, I've got a pretty good idea of what an item is worth in real terms of how much of my time/labor it would take me to A} work to afford to pay for it, B} work to *make* it. Bargains are those things that exceed my quality requirements at a price substantially lower than what I can make doing what I do in a period of time.

Does that idea help at all? I'd say buy quality, but don't be suckered into the whole mindset that mistakenly thinks higher price equals quality. You, yourself, with your tax situation exemplify the notion that often cost simply reflects some totally non-value additive things. (Like VAT, middleman markup, etc. )