So...I went knife shopping in stores today.

Oct 3, 1998
I'm even more a hard-core web-junkie after today. I needed some ammo for a few guns. Instead of going to Wal Mart and paying less, I went to the two largest gun/knife dealers in my city. I knew I'd pay more, but hey, I wanted to see the knives.

I live in Oklahoma City. The crossroad of Interstates 35 and 40. The center of the universe !!

The first store carried only Buck,Puma, Victorinox,Case and Old Timer. When I asked "where are the Benchmades and other stuff ?", I got the snobbish reply that "these are the more popular knives available".
When I asked about Spyderco, the guy said "we used to carry them, but they moved really slow". He then said that Wal Mart carried them. Gofigure ?

The second store carried Benchmade. They even had autos in a special place with automatic rifles,flash supressors, teflon bullets and other SWAT stuff.
A prominent sign explained that these knives were for law enforcement only, and that you had to produce proper identification to purchase OR HANDLE them. I'm pretty sure I heard laughter coming from the 3500 in my pocket.
Here are the prices boldly displayed:
612/CUB-$99.95, 9000SBT-$210.00 (Special @ $199.95),1000/Auto Spike-$149.95, and the 3500-$149.95.
I asked if the Cub was available in any other color than black and got the reply "no, that's the only color available"
I then asked if they had the EDI Genesis or any Microtechs and got the response" what is EDI ?, and no, we don't carry Microtechs".
Finally, I could detect that this guy sensed I was just shopping and not buying by simple body language. My last question was "how about Spydercos ?" Get this. His response was that "they were problematic, slow movers, odd, and were eliminated to carry Benchmade's full line". He then suggested the internet if I had access

My hats off to all you Internet dealers. You deserve praise and the future marketshare.
I might as well have gone looking for fossils.
In Oakland CA we've got "Edge of the World", which is fair. At any given time they'll have *maybe* half the product line for BM, Buck and other major stuff. Tiny amounts of handmades, a few AlMars, the whole Myerchin product line (all four items
) and random amounts of others stuff. Prices are high (I paid the $55 list on the Myerchin A500, I'd just gotten the armor and was curious to see how it would attach), knowledge is fair, tends to be better for high-end utility/kitchen stuff versus street-carry pieces. They're probably the best in the area overall, very nice folk.

San Francisco Gun Exchange tries hard, decent product line with many handmades including lotsa Randalls, prices are generally list, there's zero in-store knowledge (of knives, they're a VERY good gun shop). Plusses include having REKAT and other small production makers in the supply; their buyer knows what he's doing, but everything else is a joke for knife knuts.

And we've got a tiny little dealer *crammed* with stuff in the middle of a tourist-trap "mall" on a pier in San Francisco called "We Be Knives". Whole thing is maybe 15ftx15ft, selection is all over the map. If you're into United Cutlery they're your guys
including swords/axes/fantasy, but they also do a lot of Benchmade/Spydie/AlMar/etc. business. Some Buck, some Taiwanese misc, etc. Given the size constraints, they have a commendable amount of handmades, very fine folders and such, some high-end FBs. Odd thing about this joint is that they *haggle*, which is weird if you're not used to it. Nice people though, and generally have more knowledge than the others. The owner knows his stuff, and he seems to hire "hobbyist teens" such as we often see around the forums. Which isn't an insult to any party

Our other sources are flea markets (EWWW yuck - browse these, and then realize Pakistan has also made nukes...and BE AFRAID!) and the gun shows. There's some gun show knife traders that are a LOT like the Internet dealers except they don't yet know about 'pooters - and should learn. Prices are usually real close to Internet prices, support is...totally non-existant EXCEPT if they're also a net-dealer. I understand James Mattis has done that scene in SoCal, in which case there's some non-computer people able to deal with a real quality act and probably have no clue, price-shopping him against some fly-by-night moron the next few tables over.

Or we wait for a knife show and either buy from the same gun show dealers or get to meet and buy from custom makers like Bud Nealy, Bob Dozier, etc. Which is cool, but around here there's only one per year.

So, manufacturers, them's our choices. Pretty grim, no? For starters, the knowledge level of the usual retail buyer is *pathetic*, people that *collect* United Cutlery and suchlike. In order to sell such people cutlery valued at over $100, you're going to have to educate. You can best do that through the net, or sit back and watch as we educate each other. And the natural result of THAT will be: Internet buying.

Try and kill 'net buying, you kill the highest-end value market you've got.

Mike, if you spot this, pass this thread to Spyderco and the other morons.

Jim March
We're spoiled here in Minnesota.
RFG Safe and Knife has a fine selection of
factory and custom knives. The staff is quite knowledgeabe, and they don't mind me looking and handling their merchandise.
While I may be able to get a better price on the internet on some items, their level of customer service has won my loyalty.
You know I'm glad you guys brought this up about regular storefront type dealers. We've got one place here that carries BM and Spyderco, its The Range, our local indoor shooting range. They don't like people who come to look at the knives for future purchases, they hate to talk and most of all the hate to discuss their knife products and knives they that they carry. They have about the highest prices I've seen on knives causing me to buy else where, ie. net dealers. You sometimes it just fun to go down and take a look at some fine pieces of cutlery, talk to the dealers and swap a little knowledge. Unfortunately they just don't seem to care for that though.
I will add a positive note to this though. There is a small cutlery shop that caters to the BM and other such folders and customs in San Luis Obispo, California. The place is run by several young college guys and they are willing to talk and show you any knife and make a few discounts as well.
Here in the NJ/NY City area I've found a small handful of places with any level of interesting stock on hand. Most recently I found "J.T.'s", which advertised in Tactical Knives, in Port Jervis NY. They're in a decent, if small, army-navy type store, and had a few display cases of good stuff-all the Bmades, Spydercos, and more than a few handmades. Even that neat Alaska cutlery round-ended skinner, although at top dollar. The woman working there seemed shocked that I found the place through their ad.<g>

If I saw it correctly they also had a case full of Randalls or a good knockoff.

In Jersey there's a few great outdoors stores--Campmor and Ramsey, 5 minutes from each other--Ramsey carries Spydies and Benchmades, Gerbers, the usual.

There's also a police supply store off Rte 22 that has all the automatics with the same notation seen elsewhere--don't even think about it--and a good supply of folders, but, like their SureFires--top dollar prices.

Further south, Harry's near Bordentown has a good supply of Bmades, Spydies, Kershaw, Cold Steel, sharpeners, and at solid discounts. There's another hunting store a few minutes away that's pretty good, too, and there's still some Remington stores left, FWIW.

Gun shows are the best bet; Ripoff Knives does most of the eastern PA shows(not too many gun shows in Jersey), and they've got it all, even Chris Reeves and EDI, and at great(read: internet) pricing.

Otherwise it's internet dealers--anybody know of any places that handle *good* quality stuff in NY City? Paragon has some Randalls and handmades but at super high prices...

Jim's point--most of the better quality knives are basically hard to find in the flesh--bears repeating. The manufacturers are running themselves into a corner on the internet or a small number of catalogers.
Here in the Knasas City metro area there isn't a lot of places that stock a good variety of cutlery. Galyan's just recently started carrying BM. They ahve some Spydies, too. Decent selection. I know of two other gun shops that carry a few BM and Spydies. There is Odyssy Martial Arts, but they carry mostly junk and Cold Steel. AT HUGE PRICES!!!! We get a couple gun and knife shows, but not any just knife shows that draw any big names. Those of you who have shows that attract custom makers should feel fortunate. I would love to go to the Blade Show sometime!

Here in L.A. there are plenty of places to buy almost any knife you want including alot of the "big name" customs (i.e. Reeves, Neely, Crawford, Polkowski, Dozier, et. al.). Prices range from ridiculously over priced, like the place in the mall near my house, to slightly over net prices. Then, of course, we have the gun shows. But even better are the knife shows, like the Pasadena show which is coming up in Feb., the Solvang show, and the Costa Mesa show. These are a great opportunity to talk to the makers and handle all those great knives you've been lusting after. (Hey buddy, please stop droolin' on that Sabenza.



JohnG, there is this store called Warshaw Hardware on third Ave in the lower twenties. They carry many spydercos and coldsteel knives for discount prices. Right now, their stock is a bit low, but they told me they will be ordering some new ones soon. Check it out, the prices are decent.

Thanks. There's also a place on 42nd, between 7th/Broadway and 8th that has a lot of martial arts stuff in the window, and plenty of knives, both the real things and the knockoffs. They'll usually dicker on prices if you appear serious and ready to buy.

The first Ti knife I saw--it may have been the Mission MPK, but it looked a bit different than pictures I had seen--was there for $350 or so.

Like a lot of places in Times Square it looks like it may be on the way out, too. It's the last of the weapons-shoppe-type places there. Now that's happening, it's kind of sad to see the "old" TS vanish so quickly and be replaced in total by a Disneyfied TS Theme Park. Then, of course, one remembers the classic seedy TS of the late 70-early 90s....a theme pak of another kind!<g>

The best bet I've had is the custome knife shows. Last year there were two, IIRC, around March and November. Pricy to get in--$12, which was criminal--but lots of the best stuff around.
Jim, do you know off hand what Traders in San Leandro carries. I stopped in there for just a minute a few years ago while on the way to pick up my Basenji. The place was large and well stocked with firearms but i can't remember what they had knife wise.
Also what is the major show in the Bay Area and when is it?
I'm six hours north of S.F. and there are just a few pathetic gun shows that come through here.
Traders has a lower selection than any of the others I mentioned but they're not terrible either. Prices are sometimes decent, I've seen a lot of Spyderco, Cold Steel and "misc". Some stuff falls into the "weird but cool" category; the buyer is good and makes decent use of limited counter space. Haven't been in in a few months, but they're worth scoping if you're nearby.

I don't think they had many handmades, maybe a dozen "production collectibles" below the level of a Chris Reeve or such. Engraved Bucks and stuff.

Let me stop a sec here. I'm not trying to disrespect any of these places; most are trying hard, especially the knife-only stores. The biggest problem they face is buyer education; too many people can't tell the difference between a $10 piece of crap and a decent $50 production piece; selling a $100 Benchmade/Spyderco is a "heavy sale" when the local head shop, flea market and corner grocery store has identical-looking trash for peanuts, often knocked-off so close that in one case, I was accused of shoplifting a Taiwanese ripoff of one of my AlMars (because I had said AlMar) until I showed the moron the maker's stamps.

What's needed is *serious* buyer education. Not just advertising, although that'll help in some cases such a print media, specialized markets such as hunting/gun rags. Not just "feeling" ads, something with meat, with technical info. Even that'll be inadequate, which is why they'll need rec.knives and the web forums.

And word-of-mouth recommendations/"personal training" from us "hardcore" types. Make no mistake, we of all people want to see good production makers continue making pieces that are NOT "appeals to the lowest common denominator". "LCD marketing" will NOT produce cool "specialized" critters like the Cold Steel Vaquero Grande, or the Hobbit Warrior, or the SOG Desert Dagger. Or ANYTHING other than the Buck 110 and Kabar USMC, SAK and some little Case three-blade slipjoints.

We, the serious "cutlery hobbyists" *want* to help the production people. Avoid deliberately pissing us off by treating us as second-rate scum; as much as you might like the retail storefronts they CANNOT KEEP UP WITH US.

The Internet dealers CAN.

Hello? Am I getting through!?

Jim March
In my city, there's only one KNIFE-store and some outdoor stores and sport equipment stores and the supermarkets. The three latter types usually carry a couple of brands of low or mid-cost Puukkos (one outdoor store carries Roselli, so that's an exception) overpriced (even in Finland) SAK's and multi-tools, usually Leathermans and some have SwissTools, too. The outdoor store I mentioned also carries Spyderco, but they have quite high prices. However, the knife store is a real diamond. Especially when being compared to other places that offer knives in this town. It was the window of that store that made me start collecting (I had some knives before that, but they were all gifts). I just stood there, staring at the knives in the window, but enough about that now. The shopkeeper is the only person working there and he's a great guy. He knows a lot and is willing to share it. He was the one who made me aware of the fact that there is such thing as carbon steel (and he also told me, how does it differ from
stainless). He knows a lot more than just that, but there have been occasions where he hadn't known something I knew, but also vice versa. He's extremely conversant and helpfull, sometimes when I pay his store a visit, I can talk knives (or anything between conspiracies and Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi) with him for hours, sometimes after the closing-time. He has quite a good selection of brands...Boker, Spyderco, Gerber, Moki, Tak Blade, Frost, Linder, Ka-Bar, Remington, Magnum etc. One good thing in dealing with him is the fact that he often gives you discount, especially if you're a regular customer. He's working on with his website, but I haven't seen the same thing with prices (Internet dealers vs. storefront) in here than over there in the States. But the website means easy advertising and more customers, so it's still worth it. I am ordering knives from US soon and it's WAY cheaper than it would be in here (and the store doesn't have those knives), but often European stuff can be found for great prices from
the store. He also has some other interesting things for sale besides knives, like handcuffs, flashlights (UKE & Maglite) etc. Once he had a flare gun and a "blank gun" among other things. But he always has this "knives first" attitude, and I like that. Without it, I doubt he would have gotten in the business at all. I have to say I'd be devastated if that place went out of business.

My two bits,

[This message has been edited by Jani Kemppainen (edited 17 January 1999).]