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Spark: Good to some but not to Small Dealers.

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Aug 2, 2000
Would take this to W&C if it was available. This really brings me down. I have been a dealer for only 5 months. Have received a lot of positive feedback. Negative feedback includes Les Robertson (You can't be a dealer!) and Yes our dear ole Spark (You'll never survive, your profit margin is too low) And he is setting out to prove himself right by forcing me off the Dealer forums by Pricing a bit too high. I'd like feedback, and maybe a suggestion from you folks, I am quite steamed at this moment. This is what I posted in the dealer forums:

I don't know about you guys, but I am a small dealer and my so-called earnings I get from advertising will in no way cover the $850.00/year that Spark is charging for dealers pricing.

So I think it is outrageous, and designed so only the big guys and 1SKS can benefit from the Dealer forums. I think it is a shame that Spark has decided that the brunt of paying for the FS forums has to come from the Dealers. Oh BTW I wonder what he's charging the Makers??? Saw nothing about that. That's ok, was willing to pay $20-$30/mo to be able to continue posting here, but $75/mo IMHO is a tad bit more than I am willing to pay. I may get hits on my site, but I certainly don't sell $750 worth of knives from putting ads here. I was also willing to pay $50/mo for a banner, but Spark has decided to stop banners.

So what am I to do?? It costs big bucks to advertise in the Magazines, and are not too many other real resources out there, unless I want to link to everyones website and hope that will bring in hits, maybe buyers?

Not sure what to do, maybe I will bite the bullet and go to Knifeforums, sure less people, but I can pay $50/mo and get a Banner AND post in their dealer forum.

I hope Spark reads this, I am quite disappointed, but I will get over it. Hey Spark ever think of making a Small Dealer level? Say $400/year?

I'm gonna miss the forums, but Spark has made it so.

Thanks Spark!
Just to clear up a previous statement, I am sure Spark is not doing it as a personal vendetta against me as an entity, but the effect will be the same.
You will go to KnifeForums and pay $600 a year but not $850 here with way more than double the traffic?

Am I missing something here pal?

I paid over $60,000 to keep this site open out of my own pocket and now with Spark in the driver seat he is seeing the exact same thing I did. He is just trying to make ends meet and the dealers reap the most benefit from this site and therefor should carry most of the weight REGARDLESS of your size. You will NOT find a deal even REMOTELY close to what you can get here for $850 a year.

Heck I was going to raise it to $999.99 a year or $100 a month!

I am not trying to bust your chops but Spark is doing the right thing. If you want to remain small time then so be it but if you want to be a legitimate business step up to the plate like ALL of us had to do at some point in time.

Or call me and I can help you get your business off the ground with a few tips.
I don't want to remain Small forever, but I don't have $850 to drop out of my back pocket. Wish I did. If he would allow monthly payments, I might consider it, but as one lump, I really can't find that kind of money. I know you have to spend money to make money but I can't spend what I don't have.

Do you see any disparity here? Gold members $30/year, Dealers $850/year.

And if you would send me your phone # I would be more than glad to take some pointers from you. Email please.
Boy, oh Boy !

I'm not even going to get into this one. You guys put on one heck of a show. It's been a lot of fun sitting back over the years and seeing everything unfold.

Best of Luck to All,


Did you do a research how much traffic is BF generating for you? I occasionally sell Mikov knives and I also posted on BF dealer forum (maybe 10 times??). I found out that I got more traffic from my signature line that from posting on Dealers For sale forum.

Actually I did not sell a single knife from advertising on that particular BF forum. But I admit I found some customers here and as long as I will be able to keep my signature line (e.g. link to my site) I will pay at least the basic membership fee.

If you are a small dealer, you have to make a decision - you can either decide to go big, or drop out of the BladeForums.com Selling Market. I'm not going to subsidize you anymore by giving you free advertising so you can work out of your basement. Sorry. If you profit margins don't allow for this, then re-examine what you are doing.

Nothing personal, it's just business. I have a site to keep open, and allowing everyone else to make money off of it without giving anything back in return is not working. So, if you want to make money here, you get to help keep us open by paying for a membership.

As for signatures, we're going to take a hard look at that as well. If you've gotten more business from it being in your sig than in the For Sale forums, how often did you post in the For Sale forums? It's way easier to just provide a link in your signature than to actually put a post up dedicated to selling products.


"As for signatures, we're going to take a hard look at that as well."

Planning on eliminating them or charging for them?
This is starting to sound WAY too much like the Federal Government.
Originally posted by Spark
As for signatures, we're going to take a hard look at that as well. If you've gotten more business from it being in your sig than in the For Sale forums, how often did you post in the For Sale forums? It's way easier to just provide a link in your signature than to actually put a post up dedicated to selling products.


I sell Mikovs to fund my knife hobby. I sold about 5 knives thanks to BF. I am willing to support BF even though I will not sell any more. But I want to keep my signature.

I posted maybe 10 times on For Sale forum with no effect. Direct marketing, Bladeauctions or posting on other forums - more switchblade oriented - showed much better results.

I do not want to be called parasite and I want to support your site. But I cannot and will not give you 800 USD per year - for me it is not worth it.

I'm probably in the same boat that you are, only to a larger degree. I mainly sell for fun
and to earn a few extra bucks once and a while. I will be the first to admit that I am a little guppy in a big ocean of competitive fish! It was fun while it lasted and I'm sure I will be reading the Review and Custom column on a regular basis. I'm dropping out of the production gig and concentrating on the custom stuff. Good luck out there.
Barry Haugen

You are right on target. The sales forums are now dead, especially the dealer for sale forum, which is exactly what I would want if I owned 1sks. What I am confused about is the maker for sale forum and the price to post there. It appears they get the cheap membership to post, yet they make their living the same way dealers do, off of selling knives. They aren't even ponying up the cheap rate! Don't see Spark giving them the "need a new line of work if you can't afford it" line!
I can understand why knifemakers are getting a break on posting knives for sale. The ability for customers to interact directly with makers is one of the things that makes this site worthwile.

Knifemakers make the knives that we talk about and so deserve special consideration. Dealers are middlemen. Their intent in being middle men is to make money by selling the work of others. Generally this means they have a marketing (advertising) policy and Pay to create exposure. This can benefit both the knifemaker, the dealer, and the customer. But the dealer should not really expect to generate traffic on their own web sites without incurring some costs. His whole reason for being in business is based on the idea that he can more successfully market the product than the maker can alone.

If you were to pay you local newspaper for ads, it would cost Much more for a single ad than you would pay here in week. And you would reach only a tiny fraction of the potential clients you can reach here. Ads in the knifemagazines will cost you much more.

Paul, stop your whining. It's a tough business and there is some established competition. You will just have to throw money at building your reputation until this thing starts to make some positive cash flow. And it might never work out.

Spark is doing the same thing. Mike Turber and Spark have invested a lot of money with little return at this Business (BFC). It is only fair that they charge a nominal fee to others, especially competing knife dealers, to recoup some of their investment. The free ride is over.
Paul, I hope you won't take this the wrong way, but if you don't have $850 to promote yourself in the single largest consistent knife marketplace in existence (if anyone knows of a bigger one, let me know...), are you really in business? That's the price of one midranged inventory item. I know that your model is more of purveying than selling from inventory, but you get my point. If you're going to sell an item, you should at least have the cost of one article of that item to invest in promotion.

Yes, it's a barrier to entry here at BFC's marketplace, but I think it's a pretty low one, all things considered, and those who are willing to pay their money to promote themselves here deserve at least that small advantage over the "hobby dealers". If I were coughing up a nice little sum to be here, I certainly wouldn't feel compelled to subsidize a competitor - particularly one who's status as a hobby dealer leaves them free to cut margins to the bone.
Para, have not whined for the last 24 hours at least. And complaining and whining are two different things, bo one here seems to be able to differentiate between them.

Brian, sorry that you think I am a hobby dealer, I am not. You must not have looked at my site recently (last month or so) and I have put out about $4000 in the last 5 months to keep my website up and running, and now I am getting "If you want to keep your business going on the PREMIER(not!) marketplace for knives you have to pony up ANOTHER $850.00 for something you were getting for free, you bad person who should have been paying all along. My profit margins are low because I believe in the small maker and any maker who wants to get their knives "out there". I don't believe in charging an arm and a leg to do so. So if that makes me a hobby dealer so be it. The 60-70 hours a week I spend to keep my business in the spotlight (not just BF) seems otherwise, but I will bow to your superior knowledge. BTW why are dealers termed Hobby Dealers (a derogatory term) and people who maybe collect small pieces not called hobby collectors? What really annoys me is the people who have not seen what I do, see how I work in MY home, maintaining my website myself, have the cojones to tell me I should do this or do that or my business is going to fail. I certainly didn't expect to hear it from you Brian.

I was on the way out the door, just watching to see who would stir things up. Not surprised at Para, but I expected different from you. Well have fun, and say what you like about me folks. If you have anything to say to ME and not to the forum at me, send me an email. I am no longer replying to any of the messages I posted similiar to this one.
I was unaware that these guys are paying $850.
WTF do we have to pay $30 for?
It seems like it would'nt take a whole lot of the "850 club"
members to rake in some serious cash.

Let's see now....10 dealer members would be $8500, 20 would be $17000, 30 would be...............

Looks like the new fees really are just to clear out the "riff raff".

I do not intend to piss anybody off here, but now that I know that, I will probably not be sending any $$. For now anyway.

Mike T- How much DOES advertising cost? $60000 for having your knife business exposed to as many people as come here every day doesn't seem that bad.
Try putting your ads and list of products in the daily paper, every day, and see what that would cost.

edited for spelling.
You'll never survive, your profit margin is too low

Spark has been a knife dealer (maybe not with his name on the door, but he's been in the business) a long time. What he's offering you here is not criticism, it's sage advice that comes from years of experience. The most common cause of business failures is cutting the margin to low. And the most common cause of that is not understanding what your expenses will be. Most small business people don't even know what their margin really is. When it's all over with, all they know is that they didn't make as much money as they thought they should have. Those are famous last words.

At $850/year, bf.c is one of the best deals a knife dealer can get. A table at a typical show may cost $100 for a weekend during which maybe a thousand people will come. So, buy that table and you paid ten cents per person. That's the cost of getting a new customer (yes, new customers cost money. That's one of those expenses that many "businessmen" overlook). Bf.c has upwards of 11,000 registered members and countless unregistered lurkers. $850 works out to about seven cents per person. That's about 30% less than a typical show.

But, there are other ways to look at it. $100 gets you two days, maybe sixteen hours, of show. $850 gets you 24 hours 7 days a week for a whole year, about 8760 hours. That's 547.5 times as many hours of exposure than the show for only 8.5 times the price.

People who come to a typical show may look at your table once or twice on average over the course of those two days. So, you may be paying about five cents a look on average. A typical bf.c member may look several times per week, maybe 150 times per year. So, your cost per look about less than 1/2000th of one cent. That's 99.99% less than a typical show.

There's an old saying, "you've got to break a few eggs to make an omelet and you've got to spend money to make money." In order to make omelets, you've gotta have eggs (note to self: pick up eggs), and in order to make money, you've got to have money to spend which means making an adequate margin.
WTF do we have to pay $30 for? It seems like it would'nt take a whole lot of the "850 club" members to rake in some serious cash.

Got any idea what it costs to run this place?
  • Software licenses
  • Dedicated high-reliability server
  • Co-location at a central office (that alone is $3000/month here in Sherwood, Oregon)
  • Internet connection (fiber optic OC3, as I recall... serious bandwidth, serious bill)
  • A substantial fraction of Spark's time

And that's just a few of the majors that I can think off of the top of my head.
I keep hearing the same broken record over and over again. Quite frankly, I'm through listening. Either pay, or don't. I'm through subsidizing others making money off this site.

Photopoint going under pretty much validates everything I've had to say on this matter - just because it was once free, doesn't mean it will always remain so, nor does it mean it will last forever.

You dealers can either hop on board, or not. But, I'm not going to pay so you can make money. Sorry about your luck, but that gravy train is over.

As for you, Rdnzl - you seem to be making a lot of "leaps of faith" assumptions in your arguments - giant ones. I also love your philosophy of "why should I pay when someone else can do it for me." If that's how you feel, move along.

I've always maintained that BladeForums.com is about knife information, not knife selling. If the For Sale forums take a hit because we instituted this program, oh well, you can't make an omelete. The core purpose of this site lives on - <b>knife information</b>. Dealers can either get with the program, or move somewhere else, it's their choice... but it's a new ballgame here, and the "old way of doing things" is over.

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