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State of the knife industry maybe?

STR

Knifemaker/Moderator
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Aug 27, 2004
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I just waded through the zoo at Wal-Mart because we were really low on all kinds of stuff. While there I visited the knife counter of course. I asked to see a Kershaw, all out was the reply. I asked to see another. Out again, was the reply. Yet another, and another, then another. All out! I asked what do you have then? They have one or two each of 4 models left in the whole case.

I guess I should not be that surprised really at the number of knives that sell in our area because I have seen it personally before the way things pick up here the last quarter of the year for myself, but I don't recall the case at Wal Mart being wiped nearly clean of product before. What about yours? If this is any indication of the state of knife sales over the holidays the manufacturers should be very pleased. Our Wally world moved out some product this Christmas holiday let me tell you.

STR
 
Only thing I see is that things are getting so bad, more and more people feel they have to shop at lowest prices to feel like "they can get by".

I do see a rise in quality in manufactured knives. Lots for good stuff out there. But more of the imported stuff at more affordable prices. With US manufactured being a bit more, in cost a quality.
 
Knives are where baseball cards were 15 years ago and where guns were after the Brady Bill. Overpriced on the retail level.

You want a prime example? Look at the Zero Tolerance stuff, its all selling at or above MSRP because idiots are willing to pay and they think its rare because its sold at places that cater to LEOs and Military or they justify it by one of the best marketing moves in years "A portion goes to blah blah blah charity". In all honesty I look at the knife biz as I do the food biz, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL.

In this case custom knifemaker.
 
It is very difficult to say how the knife industry is doing. Only the companies themselves could shed light on how they did this year compared to last. My Walmart is always out of knives, but I don't know if that is because they are selling well, or because Walmart don't stock much inventory.
 
Not only was my hometown Walmart nearly sold out of knives the Cabela's knife section looked like a tornado had hit it. Even most of the display knives had been sold. The only thing left in the knife display cases were high end knives like the Browning Mastersmith Collection.
 
that damning WSJ article called the 'tactical' knife business a billion dollar a year industry. If that is really revenue just from clipped folders, then knives must be doing quite well.
 
I guess I should not be that surprised really at the number of knives that sell in our area because I have seen it personally before the way things pick up here the last quarter of the year for myself, but I don't recall the case at Wal Mart being wiped nearly clean of product before. What about yours? If this is any indication of the state of knife sales over the holidays the manufacturers should be very pleased. Our Wally world moved out some product this Christmas holiday let me tell you.

I was talking with the sporting goods manager at my local Wal-Mart. They are in the process of clearnacing some old knives and getting new ones. He said sometime in January, they would have full inventory on everything, again.
 
that damning WSJ article called the 'tactical' knife business a billion dollar a year industry. If that is really revenue just from clipped folders, then knives must be doing quite well.
The billion dollar figure has no basis in fact, or in reality. The AKTI response makes this very clear, and my personal experience backs that up. As one owner of a well-known knife maker told me, "I only wish it was even close to the truth."

http://www.akti.org/news-updates/wsj.html
 
I live in the Detroit area and the WallMart a block down the road was sold out of everything but multi-tools the week before Christmas. I asked when this happened because I was just there picking up two Gerber EAB's ($7.99ea) and the counter person said they are constantly showing knives to folks and forever being scorned for being out of stock. I went to the local Gun Shop that 2weeks prior he had several models of several brands. On this day 12/20 they had a few Anza's and a couple of 110's. On the 22nd I had to go to Gander Mt. for a last minute gift cert. and all they had were a couple Gerber Gators & Paraframes and to my surprise 3 Spyderco's all were Co-pilot w/Almite a young clerk just hung them on the shelf so I bought 2. I did see some Winchester/Case/Leatherman's but just a few. When paying for my goods I asked how knife sales were and the clerk said "CRAZY" she went on to say "People asking for things we have never heard of as well as getting mad because we were out of or did not stock what they were looking for" So I suppose in my area it's tough to keep a knife in stock and thats a good thing... I THINK???? Good Thread STR!!!!
 
Guy's... Christmas is the time for knife giving! I have gave out 10 knives this year as presents. You have to expect these stores to be sold out or low this time of year. Shop in July like I do & you will find plenty of knives to pass out on Christmas.
 
Most of my knife shopping is done via internet. I can find nearly anything I want.
 
I get most of my stuff from on-line stores, but I stop by some of the gun shops in downtown Buenos Aires when I'm in the area. Usually you can only get SAKs, Buck knives (at outrageous prices) and some Spanish brands like Muela with the odd Opinel thrown in.

I was surprised to see a store that had a very good selection of Spydercos and Cold Steel knives at very decent prices, just a bit over MSRP, which is great in a country like Argentina where the standard price for a Buck 110 is $100. I bought a Military, a Delica 4 and a Cricket, I paid a bit more than I would have from an on-line store, but once you take taxes and customs paperwork into account (not to mention the thieving bastards that work for the postal service) I feel like the price was OK.

Two or three guns shops have started to import knives. The owners say that the increase in sales has to do with both an improvement in the country's economy in the last couple of years and the new restrictive gun laws. Custom knife makers have also made a great effort to reach the general public, a guild was created recently and one of it's objectives is to educate the public about knives, some nice (although still small) knife shows have been organized lately.

Tourism also has an impact on sales. American and European tourists either buy the cheapest and crappiest Argentine knives or they invest a good amount of money in a good handmade knife. I can't remember how many people asked me where to get decent knives to take back home this year.
 
I like hearing that knives are moving, being given as gifts and that sales are healthy whether they be at a discount warehouse or a higher priced high end only store. Doesn't matter as long as they are steadily in demand if you ask me.

I know my wife and her relatives, my sisters and brothers as well as others in our family give knives quite frequently as gifts. My wife loves those little key ring knives for stocking stuffers and office party gifts.

Our Wal-Mart had a huge full display of Buck 112 Rangers in the nice tins out in two places in the store just a week before Christmas and everyone of them is gone. I would imagine if its like that in every store that sales were pretty good for the manufactures. I always get worried more now than just a few years ago. The Schrade belly up, the Camillus question of health all made me wonder. Hopefully this holiday boost of sales will help boost things a bit.

I'd like to see a TV show or radio show dedicated to just knives. You know a half hour thing once a week. We can call it "Knife Talk" and have guests on from the manufacturers on as well as celebrities like Angilina Jolie, James Spader and other known knife nuts as guest now and then. Something to cover current trends, latest and greatest in hunting, tactical, self defense and crafts and carving as well as surgical and other specialty knives. I think that would be just grand to be able to have a format like that to get speakers from the AKTI.org site on live for phone calls and live chat personally.

STR
 
I went to WalMart on Wednesday to see if any of the Buck Christmas sets were marked down. Well they were all gone , not a trace.... not even the Winchester gift sets were left.
 
Walmarts only stock 1 of each knife at a time, then order ONE more when that 1 sells. Then they have to wait for it to ship, then put it on the shelf. Pretty corny if you ask me.
 
My Wal-Mart has shown me as many as four of the same model at the same time. Its one of the reasons I like shopping there. I can pick the best of all they have to offer and buy it. They may do what you say with the more expensive ones but when I bought my Native, Vapor, Storm, and several others they got all of them out and let me look at them and compare. Well, that is when I knew the guy behind the counter. If they didn't know me they insisted on putting each one back and only letting me handle one at a time. :jerkit:

STR
 
Look at the Zero Tolerance stuff, its all selling at or above MSRP because idiots are willing to pay and they think its rare because its sold at places that cater to LEOs and Military or they justify it by one of the best marketing moves in years "A portion goes to blah blah blah charity".
Chef, ZT pricing is not based on a Paralyzed Veterans marketing move, and I do take a bit of exception to that implication. The PVA is an outstanding organization, of which we look to have a long standing relationship with.
The ZT line is quite complicated, not only from the proceeds and manufacturing, but also from the fact that there is multiple custom knifemakers involved with the product. ZT also has very limited production, and like other limited production high end knife lines, you are not going to see deep discounting. There is also no distributor program with the line, and that assists in the pricing as well.
It all adds up, and is pretty straight forward.

BTW,I don't think ZT customers are even close to be idiots.

Should anyone be interested in the PVA, their link is as follows:
http://www.pva.org/site/PageServer

Walmarts only stock 1 of each knife at a time, then order ONE more when that 1 sells. Then they have to wait for it to ship, then put it on the shelf.

killerskill, I'm not sure where you heard this, but will tell you all first hand this is not true. Wal-Mart stocks more than 1 knife at a time.

I will speak to you from Kershaw's standpoint, and I think it was a solid year, although I don't think Wal-Mart should be used as a gauge in determining the state of the industry.
I'll try to expand on this topic later when I have more time.





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Thomas, I will be looking forward to more from you on this subject. It the manufacturers that know how things are going in the knife industry.
 
Here's what I see...

In general, I see the entire knife industry in decline as smaller and older makers are consolodated and as we see changes in perceptions about knives.

You can see Buck knives everywhere though.

I feel that this decline is due to many factors. Some of them being growing metropolitain centers where knives are not considered tools as in rural areas or according to rural and old fashioned ways.

In the city a knife is used to kill. For example, I live in LA, California, and when people know I carry a knife, they ask if I'm going to kill anyone with it or if I would. Or they ask why I even carry a knife. Perceptions are different in the city and cities are growing.

I was raised to always carry a knife as a part of being a gentleman. You carried a knife, handkerchief, wallet, comb.

Additionally, I see a decline due to what I can only call the pussyfication of the world. Knifes are seen as dangerous, unnecessary and uncivilized by the general media, celebs, city folks, etc.

As for companies, although I see a recent resurgence in custom makers, I see small companies being bought out by bigger ones. Or customizers lines, being bought out or adopted by big companies.

As the population ages, those older folks who were raised to see a knife as a tool or carried one, die off. Those traditions and ways of thinks aren't passed on, or are ignored by the young people of today who want to have new gadgets, be popular and conform.

At a local, street side level, I see knives being in brick and mortar stores, diminishing. You can shop the world through the internet and compare prices and models without driving around, spending gas, and waiting for service. Another reason why stores don't want to have stock on hand, just sitting. Stock on hand means money just sitting around, till sold.

Just my opinion. No facts or stats to back up what I say. Just theorizing and observation.
 
I see just the opposite. Knives are more ubiquitous than ever. There is bigger selection at lower prices and higher quality than ever. I've lived in L.A. most of my life and have carried a knife since I was about 8. I can't recall anyone giving me any hassle over the issue ever.

Also more than ever, knives are more a statement than a tool. As the population becomes less rural, the knife is less useful as a tool. And more specialized, useful tools have become commonplace.

I do think the knife-as-tool model is dying, because fewer people in the US need knives as tools. As the population becomes more educated and highly skilled, people who might have relied on a knife 50 years ago in their profession now rely on a keyboard and phone and ergonomic chair. In addition, the replaceable-blade utility knife/boxcutter has largely replaced other types of knives in professions that actually demand their use for a host of reasons.
 
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