View Full Version : This is what I mean by collecting ...

01-25-2001, 05:11 PM
I always laugh :lol: when think back on the reactions people have when I show them the things of value that I've taken it upon myself to collect throughout my life. I'm referring to people like family members, business associates, neighbors and not to my brother fellow collectors as they view them with me. This is strictly about traits I see in what I call "the unenlightened" group of this world.

I say "unenlightened" because when I show them an item (let's say a custom knife ), their reaction is one, understanding that what they are looking at is unique, quality and has high rarity. But, then they say, "wow .. how much did that cost?". So, immediately I see that they do not understand real value in the sense I know it. I call these people "unenlightened". They are walking zombies to me, from a league standpoint. Here's why ...

"If a person is collecting items for their intrinsic and value maintaining qualities, the cost of the item is irrelevant to the collection. Regardless of the dollar limit you set on the collection, your goal is to pursue items that are "worth" their cost."

So, when you tour Bill Gate's collection of SR Johnson's ;) , Monet's and Rolex's, or Steve Wynn's collection of Lovelace's, Rembrandt's, Picasso's, and you're first reaction is going, "wow ... I wonder what that cost?" You're out! Bill and Steve look at you and laugh in the back of their minds. They understand that their collections don't cost a dime, they hold value.

In effect, Steve and Bill own all their collection items, billions of dollars worth, for the grand total "cost" of ZERO. That's right boy's. The finest of the fine they own, at a total cost of nothing. Better than that ... it's making them money!

Now, what does a guy like me learn from this knowledge?

I have 2 rules that I abide by as a collector when looking from the buyer's perspective. Here they are in order of importance:

1. It has to work for the collection ... my eye! Stir my soul, so to speak, as an investor. The first reason I buy a new collection piece is that the item represents the quality of my mind's eye when I view it against the overall scheme of my collection. I want the most in "precision, finish, material composition and one-of-a-kindness" that I can get for the budget of that investment purchase. It has to fit my collection as a condition of style, unit, whether it be art, knives, jewels, coins or whatever I collect. I'm doing this because I want my collection value as a whole to be worth more than the value of the individual items together.

2. It has to meet "only one" financial investment guideline that I place on every investment purchase I do ... "The value of the item must exceed it's investment by "one cent". If I had $15,000, $50,000 or $50 dollars to invest in my collection at the moment I make the decision to invest, the item must be obtainable at a purchase price that immediately has liquid value, exceeding the original investment by one cent. That to me, is the minimum.

What do I want from it all?

Very simple ... I want to own and enjoy "the finer things in life" for free with the option containing the best liquid movement for the long-term capital gain! Or, better yet "I want to make money off the finer things in life" while I own and enjoy them for free and be able to cash out as fast as possible in the event of emergency need!

Does that make sense?

Now ... do you go to the shows to look at all the "pretty knives" or do you go to the show with the intent of seeking out collection bargains?

What 200 makers represent the very best collection value for the serious investor today? Why?


Les Robertson
01-25-2001, 08:41 PM
Hi Alex,

I have met very few custom knife buyers who claim they are only in it to make money. The majority will tell you that they buy the knife because they like the knife. I suspect if we were to poll those who collected other type items would make the same comment.

While these custom knife buyers do not claim to be investors, they are. Once you have put thousands of dollars into anything, you have technically made an investment. The rate of return or lack there of, will depend on many factors. Education, timing and having "investment" capital readily available are the top three factors.

As for there being 200 makers who you can invest in and expect a decent return. The actual number would probably be closer to 15-25. This number will increase or decrease depending on your investment strategy.

Custom knife dealers more so than any one else can identify these makers for you. Here is the first question you ask any custom knife dealer. If I buy this knife and want to trade it in for a more expensive knife down the road will you give me my full purchase price? If they answer anything but "YES". They are telling you one of three things.

1) The price they have on it is to high
2) They do not feel the maker has a sufficient position in their market for the knife to hold it's value.
3) They are more interested in making a sale then helping your collection or "portfolio".

Remember, if the dealer you are thinking of buying the knife from, does not believe in the knife or the maker then you shouldn't either. EDUCATION! Do your homework.

01-25-2001, 11:10 PM
Doesn't the final value in the deal for the buyer, ultimately come from his or her ability to perceive and quantify and negotiate worth? Both short and long term?

I'm looking at it for a 10-20 year ROI. I'm making early bets on some trends that I see occurring right here because of this medium. My plan is to collect all the knives I can that meet my personal investment criteria, and use the internet down the road to find my return in 10-20 years. I plan on being right here, realizing the dream.

Isn't it all about the average market in 10-20 years? At least that's where I'm thinking ... maybe this is too far out there on the internet, but I'm saying I, Alex Whetsell, believe that a $300 dollar (hand picked for quality) custom knife will sell for $400,$500 and even $600 dollars over the next 5-10-20 years on the internet.

In terms of what the CKD will be doing in 20 years, with any luck at all, we'll be one of the "premier resources on the planet", making markets for more makers and providing deep information and contact on the subject of collecting custom knives. So, in large part, I'm also betting on all our futures out here, too!

Personally, I think they're better than Baseball Cards over the next 10-20 years, given the internet. Especially, with millions of people worldwide entering the same buyer market. Understand, I've created deals to sell custom knives to collectors in China, Sweden, the Russian Federation and Taiwan, all within the last 30 days. Because of the equal access to the limited maker production, material and supply increases over time, the custom knife market is bound to take a pronounced spike in cost of ownership across the board in 10-20 years, possibly sooner.

What think ye? Am I off in Geek land or is there a much greater market demand on the horizon? Could I sell the last one I bought for $300 in 10 years (perhaps on the internet) for $500,$600? ... with a sharp eye to value?

That's what I'm talking! Long term and through building CKD resources and maker markets!

Who's with me?


01-26-2001, 12:40 AM
One of the problems you run into, Alex, is that very few makers have enduring appeal to stand the test of time. At one time, brass was the norm for knife material (bolsters, pins) and even the very best makers used it, but if you use brass now, you might as well slap on some Dymondwood. There is nothing wrong with brass per se, but it is the mark of a user knife, not an investment grade knife. The same applies for materials now, what is hot today will not be hot tomorrow.

It is one thing to have some knives in your collection, but there are people with hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in knives, and I guarrantee you they keep a sharp eye on potential resale value. I think what Les has always tried to teach people is that what you can't stand not to have today easily becomes what you are willing to trade or sell away tomorrow to get the next piece you can't stand not to have. He tries to direct folks to knives that will retain their value when it is time to get tomorrows knife.

If you go to the for sale section on the other forums, you will see time and time again a knife for sale from an individual that is cheaper than the maker price, yet no one will touch it. Trends fall in there too. At one time, pink ivory (wood) was considered the pinnacle of a high end knife. Everyone was making those butt ugly bird knives (the back part of the handle looked like a birds beak). Even the carved, sculpted, damascus, exotic switches that are hot now are all starting to look the same and lose their appeal. You pay $3500 for one and you can't resell it for half that. that is a poor investment.

It always seems to be the clean, functional lines of high quality knives that are made by high quality makers that keep their value.

01-26-2001, 01:42 AM
You're still talking yesterday talk ... what is the internet doing to it? How will it affect the market if you toss in another 2 million buyers, 4? 6? over the next 3 years?

Does this change the nature of the beast?


01-26-2001, 09:21 AM
You are mixing two different concepts. Selling knives over the internet is going to get bigger, we can all agree on that. But that is just another avenue of commerce. It will not increase the value of a knife. If anything, the internet has created a flood of new makers, which is not bad, but it gives you this big pool of average makers with many of them making knives that look the same. It can dull the senses.

01-26-2001, 02:49 PM
Which two concepts am I mixing? I'm a little unclear on that ...

OK ... let me clear up my position. Maybe I owe everyone that. I started the thread ....

1. I'm NOT talking from a reactive position when I draw my argument about future trends in the custom knife world. The CKD pretty much makes us about as proactive as we can be in this argument. So ... #1 one is, we're not talking about or following any previous trends, we're attempting to form alliances and make new ones as we speak. I see the custom knife business everyday. I plan to be in a position to dictate my fate in that area in this future I'm describing.

2. Since the future concludes the results of our daily actions over time, Let's lean on the experience and lesson taught by other knife media brothers like Blade Magazine, Knives Illustrated and such, to point out what they've done for the overall pricing of knives over the last 15 years.

So, here we have the Internet.
It's our jobs to help shape what values, trends, makers, materials, markets, communities and support resources and stuff that build this industry and are required to captain all of our fates.

I'm not sure how all our CKD makers and members feel about stuff like this, but we're telling all our friends in hopes they'll see it too.

When we look at our beginning makers and members here today, the one's who are here right now, learning, loving their art, getting good equipment at bargains, and practicing their skill by having direct daily access to incredible talent of the likes our community fathers and founders and those who will join, what we see today are tomorrow's masters being born. Today's CKD makers, the one's who's countless hours of help in instructing, showing off great designs and offering fellowship, will not be forgotten in value tomorrow, trust me! If anything, Steve, Ed, Don, everyone else and even you!, touching millions of people in this way over time will change the condition of your future value, one day.

There's an opportunity for a different level of worldwide notoriety going on out here right now. You're no longer exposed to the measly 30,000 subscribers willing to pay the price and learn the language of a Blade Magazine, so to speak. So the market is coming in full force now from all over the planet. Many people are stumbling into knife sites, getting bit by the bug and becoming enthusiast's, just as a consequence of connectivity. No payment required. The legends in the trade to them, because they haven't been told what to think, are the guy's who's work they see and like right now.

If we do our jobs, those same men will have access to the entire world community of custom knife connectivity in tomorrow's market ... that's the one we're creating proactively every day ... the one we see our community dictating who's a player or not by their contribution to the community as a whole. We are here to captain our fate.

I figure that "any artisan that is known by 1 million people, has a certain collectable value". I feel that if the same artisan is "respected" by that same 1 million people, their value increases immensely. We're slowly, but proactively helping the makers that use the CKD to reach out to that 1 million mark.

Now ... here's my question:

Does anyone share my vision?


Don Cowles
01-26-2001, 08:55 PM
In a word, yes.

I think that another aspect of this vastly expanded market is the likelihood of what is currently in fashion varying considerably with the level of awakening in a particular area or culture. Brass may indeed have "class" for some of the folks on the curve.

I see nothing but greatly increased opportunity and exposure for all of us.

01-27-2001, 01:29 PM
I agree with the concept, but just because people tune in from all over the world doesn't mean they will buy. Now your dealing with a global economy and while things may be good here this may not be the case elsewhere. Not to bring you down, just realize that there are going to be many factors that come into play. Both on the knife side and the economic side of the equation. Right now in the US we have one of the best economies ever, but if (or should I say when) that changes there will no longer be a market for custom knives. Oh yes the hunter will still want a blade, but there will no longer be the purchase of 2nd, 3rd and 4th knives.

Les Robertson
01-27-2001, 03:26 PM
Hi Jerry,

Jerry I think your sentence that said there would be no custom knife market is
probably a little overstated. So Im going to have to disagree with your theroy.

The majority of people who buy custom knives have a fair amount of disposable income. Generally, these are not the people who live from pay check to pay check. Most are college educated, professional types.

What you have seen and will continue to see is a custom knife market that will continue to grow, with no end in sight. However, as the economy slows custom knife buyers will not stop buying, they will
just become more particular.

These buyers will start doing more homework. They will start to look for makers who:

1) Have value consistent with the price of the knife.
2) Take an active role in promoting themselves and their knives.
3) Work with dealers and purveyors. As these individuals work in the aftermarket.
Dealers who consistently carry and look to purchase particular makers knives will
help insure a constant demand at the primary sales level (from the maker).
4) They do not use words with negative conotations. Such as I don't, you shouldn't,
Couldnt we use another type of steel, Wouldnt you rather use brass, etc.
5) Makers who will not take deposits on standard knives
6) Makers who meet their delivery times
7) Makers who will use a wide variety of materials. There by giving the client more options.
:cool: Makers who make themselves available to potential clients. They don't attend shows
Just to hang out at the bar with their buddies and leave a business card and a photo
on their table.

Makers will no longer be able to rest on their laurels. They will have to employ as the term the Japanese
TQM executives coined...Keizen or contiunious improvement. This implies that no
matter what the industry, each product must be better than the next.

With some makers you actually see a decrease in quality as they become better known.

Jerry, I feel what you will see is better knives being made for a fair price. Many of the names you
know today will be names of the past in 5-7 years from now. Want proof, get a Knives 1992 and go through it. Look at how many of those makers are not listed in Knives 2000.

Before the Internet, it would take customers a decade to learn about custom knives what they can learn now in two years. Consequently, you have a more educated clientel, who are asking
pointed questions that knife makers didn't hear 5 years ago.

One last thing to those makers who are reading this. If you don't have a web site withing the next
1-2 years, you are going to get left behind.

Even the knife magazines are doing articles on this. I will be featured in a web
site article that Tactical Knives is doing that will be out in April. Also, I am being
interviewed for a upcoming article on building web sites that will be in Blade Magazine
in May or June. It was this time last year that I was featured in an article in Blade Trade
Magazine about selling knives on the Internet.

Couple that with Two, 5-6 page articles in Tactical Knives in the last 5 months featuring my Vanguard knives
Also, 7 other Vanguard knives were featured in Blade Magazine, (to include on e in the review of the Guild Show) all with my web site information.

You can probably guess what impact that has had on the amount of visitors I receive and the amount of knives I am selling on a daily basis.

Makers and Collectors alike, Jerry "the end is near" O is some what correct. There
will be some makers who fall by the way side.

If your a maker, ask yourself right now, what can I do to improve my position in a shifting market.

If your a collector, evaluate your collection. Ask yourself the tough questions about the makers
who's knives make up your collection. If you realize that a particular maker is not going to
make the cut, then get rid of that knife and steer clear of them in the future. Until you feel
they have shown signicant imporvement.

Personally, I challange all the knife makers I work with on a regular basis. Some have fallen short for any number of reasons. Consequently, I no longer carry their knives. Doesn't mean they are
a bad maker or a bad person. To me it means they have hit a plateau. Knife makers are
people just like the rest of us. The like to expand their comfort zone and reap the benefits
of being successful. There is nothing wrong with that, unless of course they stay there
too long.

Talking like this makes me want to write a book! :rollin: :rollin: :rollin: :lol:

How about some of you collectors out there, what do you look for in a maker, besides just
quality work!

01-27-2001, 05:39 PM

That is exactly my point!

Now ... how do we position ourselves to take maximum advantage of this coming new age? Easy ...

My contention is to organize the majority of the serious players into a closed community sub-matrix. That's where I'm placing all the chips from my bet! This is where the CKD is being directed ... also Atlanta Virtual.

Organization into special interest communities is the trend we're seeing out here. In order for the net to work for any specialized community, the information must be sub-grouped and searchable. The traffic must be tightly controlled. That's where we're working on the development now.

When people see the CKD in their mind's eye in the future, I want them to see the doorway to all things "custom knife" on the net. A "custom knife" portal ...

On that note ...
I would gladly be willing to discuss the business side of what our immediate, intermediate and long-range development plans are out here ... and their possible significance in the industry.

In that case, however, get me 5 Men with enough means and interest in the subject to attend, arrange a place and time for a meeting and I'll fly there. That's how serious I am ...

I'll bring 500,000 visitors a month to put on the table that are currently hitting our systems in search of custom knife related information. As it stands now, these are from independently operated and managed sites. My presentation will be to show everyone how to build a Internet "Custom Knife" WAN system, so to speak, that can change the nature of how our community works, grows and prospers in the future.

What we now see as the independent, self managed, self promoted and isolated internet site will soon become obsolete in the coming future. The real trend for the future is in the "closed system matrix". And, we're miles ahead of everyone else in developing it for this industry ... everyone will see this over time as we develop our portal content.

More on the subject later ...


01-27-2001, 07:38 PM
Ok, I see your point, but do you remember back in the late 80's when the economy was in the toilet. What i meant without being clear I'm afraid is that people where not spending on luxury goods. There was to much uncertainty in the world around them. I'm an engineer and basically I can forecast the economy fairly well, cause when there's no money no one builds. Real Estate is always a good deal so if they're not building you know it's bad. Right now things have slowed, but there's still plenty of work out there. There will always be that group who will have money no matter what. But in bad times people invest in hard stuff, real estate, gold, silver, art works, Now if we could turn people on to the investment aspect of knife collecting, as art, that would be a booming market. Of course it will lead to other problems, like speculators, people who buy just for investment and not for the joy of it. I point you to the exotic and muscle car market of just a few years back.

I see that I misread your post I think that a custom knife portal is a great idea!

01-27-2001, 08:17 PM
Jerry, even though the economy was soft here, the Japanese were gobbling up custom knives. A friend told me they would walk into a show and buy every knife on th table from the likes of Bob Terzuola. I wasn't involved then, so someone else please back me up on that:) They bought high quality knives from the same type of makers that Les carries on his site. There will always be a market of some type, but not everyone will flourish in that market. The meat and potatos maker that is regional and does his local gun shows and makes the same knife for 20 years will be the one to suffer in the hard times. I don't think Buster Warenski ever suffered a dry patch.

I am just hanging on to Alex's coattails, because I know that he knows where he is going and I want to be involved. He makes money and he helps people around him make money. Those #### A-type personalities drive me nuts;)

CKD has been built on a solid base in integrity and professionalism, and that is what will take it and its members to the top. Alex has got the business end locked up. He is just waiting for the world to catch up. Is is my job to talk to the makers and collectors as a maker and collector and show them that this is the real deal.

01-27-2001, 08:38 PM
I'm jumping on board too! CKD has my vote!



01-28-2001, 03:39 AM

I know the world follows the US economy in large part, but the internet immediatly lowers the impact by spreading the market. So, if anything, it's real impact will be to smooth out the valleys and lows.

Jerry touched on something...

Because of the mass contact capability, we could see custom knives in the future entering the antiquities and general collectors markets.

We are the captians of a global opportunity right now in the custom knife industry. The door is wide open to totally redefine how it's done in this world. From seeing my knife on my site at 5:30PM to having it in your position in 24 hours changes the face of the game forever. Mainstream average to mid-range customs into the impulse market for the average credit card buyer and develop content for the developing collector community, and you're doing something like it would take to see this all take form.

Let's say this, if it happens ... I'm glad everyone here is with us. We can all look at each other one day and know we did something positive and powerful on a global playing field.


01-29-2001, 11:41 AM
Bob brought something up that triggered a memory. I was talking to Bob Lum and he mentioned that he had a few knives for sale, that didn't sell in Japan, cause they didn't meet the taste of the buyers out there. 1) the knives were largish, the Japanese have very strict knife/sword laws 2) they were perhaps a bit too tactical. The Japanese market had shifted and moved heavily toward gent's and art knives. the point of this is that now you need to cater to tastes in the global sense. I agree that the Moran's, Warenski's etc. of knifedom will not have a problem finding buyers. Just as there are people who will always have money so too there will always be knifemakers that always sell. Go to a knife show some time and check out the guys and gals who sell out in under an hour of the first day of a three day show.

Alex, I can see that we are at the start of something that could turn into a monster if we encourage it.

01-29-2001, 02:44 PM
Jerry ...

The internet will be so important one day, that I would venture to say ... "If I could figure out how to add the two remaining senses, touch and smell to the user experience, I could show you how to replace even the shows."

I'm already predicting the biggest shows in the world, one day, will be organized and run by net communities. In the trade show business, "whoever gets the most people through the gates, wins!" That's where all the biggest players will be. Right? In ten years, our audience will be 30-40x larger than any print publication subscriber base right now. They are caught in a downward trend, big time.

The net is the ultimate successor. Now, let's take it to the moon. The view is better!


Les Robertson
01-30-2001, 12:57 PM
Hi Jerry,

Yes, I remember the "bad times" of the 80's. Actually, for me it was the good times. Graduated college, got married, our first child was born, and I spent 5 1/2 years in the 101st Airborneas a Infantry Officer. We actually had a training budget. We went to the field a lot, I got to travel to several "specialty" schools. Oh yea, in 1986 I became a custom knife dealer! But I digress!

The 80's, for many was the decade of excess. This was evident in the custom knife market as well. Towards the close of the decade and into the 90's the Japanese played a very big role in the custom knife market.
I saw "teams" of buyers at the shows. One would pick out the knives, a second would pay for the knives and the third and possibly forth carried the knives. There were a couple of other big buyers as well. The money was flowing, high dollar knives were in their glory. Then it happened our economy went soft. So Americans for the most part stopped buying expensive knives. Also, they were pushed out of the market as many of the top makers built knives with the Japanese in mind.

The main culprit in this mix was the interframe folder. This is the knife the whispers started talk about some new machine..CNC!

To make a long story short, makers got greedy and dealers, engravers got greedy and perhaps the worst of this group, the dealers got incredibly greedy. That was the beginning of the end for many makers as makers knowing the value of their interframes, jacked up the prices. Knowing that dealers were getting sometimes a 100% mark up.

This is where the problem first appeared. I buy a interframe from a dealer, 6 months later I want to trade it in. Oddly enough that interframe is $2,500 on the dealers table, but only worth $800 when I am trying to trade it in. Dealers were not thinking long term.

Then the Japanese economy went soft. One dealer in the US, who is no longer around. Was given hundreds of very high quality knives from the Japanese market (who's Yen was still stronger than our Dollar, consequently, knives could be sold at very low US prices and yet only cause a minimal loss, say 25%. Remember, when you are unloading any kind of merchandise, a 25% loss is very acceptible.)

So, the market became flooded with very high quality knives at very low prices. The dealers bought them up, anticipating a huge killing. Well, the word got out and collectors seeing the hand writing on the wall, started to, not buy, but SELL! Once on this slippery slope the makers, dealers and collectors for the most part cold not recover in the near term. Some did recover in the long term, others never recovered.

I know dealers today, who still have some interframes they cannot get their money out of.

So in the early 90's it really started to look bad for the custom knife market. Then in 1993-94 a new folder started to appear. They had names like Carson, Terzuola, Crawford, Elishewitz and Emerson. For the first 9 years as a dealer you could have counted the number of folders I sold on two hands. Then in September of 1995 my first ad appeared in Tactical Knives. That ad generated over $18,000 in sales (makers are you paying attention to that number). One other thing, that ad was free. As this was a new magazine and they wanted to show me what this magazine could do for me. I have never missed advertising in Tactical Knives since.

A large majority of the makers and press thought the Tactical Folder was a fad, a few "wannabe's" buying knives. As usual most knife makers showed there lack of understanding the custom knife market. It was not the wannabe's buying these knives. It was the former multi-thousand dollar collector buying these. Their thinking was, well I can't take much of a loss, and worse case scenario, I CAN ALWAYS USE THEM!

I have been hearing, mostly from makers, for the last 4 years that the tactical knife market is dead. Sorry guys it's not. So while tactical folder sales may be slowing a little, the tactical fixed blades are now the hottest knife in the market.

The marketing and selling of custom knives is no different from any other collectible. All markets ever created follow a basic pattern. Birth, growth, maturity and death. Those of you who have been around for 10 or more years have seen markets that were "the market'. Interframe Folders, Art Daggers, Damascus Bowies and Fighters, Hunters. All at one time owned the market. Just like certain materials, brass, nickel sivler, stainless steel. 20 years ago all of these were acceptable for guard, bolsters and frames. Now it's titanium and Damascus.

Do makers still use brass, nickel silver and stainless steel. Yes. Why?
Because in the case of brass and nickel silver they are cheap and easy to use. Of course seeing these materials on a knife (with a few exceptions. that being periord pieces that call for these materials to be used) indicates to you, the buyer that the maker is new. It also indicates to you to do one of two things. Ask them to use Stainless Steel, Titanum or Damascus. If they come back with a negative response, the opt for the second choice, don't buy their knife.

So the market is always changing and evolving. Sometimes in concert with the economy, most times inspite of it.

As Alex is pointing out, every time something starts to fail or does fail. This is not a failure in the business sense of the word. It becomes an opportunity. Just as your oponents strengths can be expolited as even a strength has a weakness (how zen like).

The internet is exploiting some of the old strenghts of "brick and mortar" stores. The Internet store offers exceptional selection at very competitive prices. However, this is mostly taken advantage of by those who have been to the brick and mortar store and already know the sizes, colors, etc. that they like.

Business has changed so much in the last 10 years. But one thing has remained constant. Those with the forsight, intelligence, confidence and intestinal fortitude are called entrepreneurs. While others stand around and give you 100 reasons why something will not work. Or worse yet bury their heads in the sand to the changes occuring right in front of their eyes. Entrerpreneurs will be the ones who will ultimately be successful.

This "mind set" is why my signature line on my email reads:

Les Robertson
Custom Knife Entrepreneur

I stopped being merely a dealer when I was no longer satisfied with just buying and re-selling the custom knives that were available.

First with the LDC Custom Knife series and most recently with the Vanguard series. I and the makers I work with are changing the face of custom knives. This elite group of makers have accepted my challange to think outside the box.

Consequently, we have limited editions (which enhance the collectability and possible investment potential), we uses the lastest materials and incorporate the best procedures to insure our parts have the very best tolerances. These knives are drawn with AutoCad on the computer, there is no guess work, we know they work before they are made. We do not expect our customers to "Buy" mistakes. We purchase in bulk, there by reducing the cost that is usually passed on to the customers.

I came up with this concept while in Graduate School. But it took 5 years to bring it to reality. Want proof it works. 17 of the knives were featured in different knife magazines last year. Ten of them were featured in two different articles in Tactical Knives. Is there any other dealer out there that can say this, no. Is there a maker out there that can say they had 17 different knives in magazines in one year, no.

Now this is not boasting, it is just a fact. This occured through preparing a business and marketing plan, securing the capital and getting the right people involved.

I used to believe that any one can do this. Truth is not any one can. It takes a lot of planning, patience and belief in yourself and the people you are working with.

However, the Internet is the perfect tool for this. Working with Alex to get your web site built is the first step. Then taking it a step further to understand E-business marketing and direct internet marketing.

Do you understand the concepts of "Buzz", what the "tipping" point is for a particular product and what are who the characters are and what roles they play in pushing a product towards the "tipping" point.

Do you undestand the concept of permission marketing and how it works hand in hand with today's custom knife market and the sales of those knives on the Internet?

Entrepreneurs understand these concepts.

For you custom buyers out there, especailly those who are looking at investment potential of a maker. If he or she does not understand their position in a particular knife market, then they have none.

This is the first indication you have that these makers are not in it long term.

As the Internet becomes more and more popular, knife makers will no longer be able to use the "good old boy" marketing strategy. Need proof, ask anyone that went to the Guild Show last year in New Orleans.

Need more proof! Why are there still 15 table available for the show this year in Orlando! Wasn't this the place where "miracles" happened.

People forget that when the show left Orlando 5 years ago, sales were slowing. They also forget about the Florida Art Knife Invitational that was held in Orlando for 4 years in a row in January. This show had possibly the best line up of well known "investment grade" makers I have ever seen at one show. Did any of you attend it this January.

No, because the show no longer exists.

The Guild Show no longer boasts the best line up. Most of it's world class makers decided to not support the Guild last year and passed on the show.

If you own these makers knives, sell them now. They have hit a plateau , expanded their comfort zones and are telling you "I have peaked". They are going to do nothing else to help all of you who have supported them in the past. They are not going to shows, they don't advertise, they don't have a web site. Now exactly how are the new collectors supposed to find these makers?

Question, do you think these world class makers not doing anything to promote themselves to the next generation of knife buyers will help or hinder your chances of selling that knife for a profit. Hell, just break even.

Well this went a lot longer than I thought. I apologize for the length.

I hope you can take away something positive from this.

01-30-2001, 02:18 PM
Les, that was extremely lucid. Well stated.

A few more weeks of posting and you will have all the material you need for your book:)

01-30-2001, 03:31 PM
The book we're going to write is history!

Add instantaneous worldwide communication to every plugged-in custom knife enthusiasts' home with the content resources they require and what you'll have is not a market of, but "the custom knife industry".

The balance of information flow (which also means power)is changing in the custom knife industry right now.

Everything!, one day ... associations, magazines, mail marketing, shows, schools etc., will be a subsidiary activity controlled by the largest specialized net communities of users in this world.

Trust that ... and it's coming! Happening right now, in fact.

Combining all CKD linked sites, we get 3x as many, and possibly more monthly visitors as both, Blade and KI have subscribers.

When we build the machinery that funnels the worlds custom knife activity into one user-community system matrix, adding the fact that our content is live, convenient and dynamically archived and expanding, you'll see where the world community forms.

"Let he who hath ears ... hear!"


01-30-2001, 04:45 PM
Don't mind the length. I for one am willing to listen if your willing to expound! I want to be able to learn something new about knife collecting every day.

And how is the book coming along?

Alex, your enthusiasm amazes.

I had a longer diatribe, but lost it to spell check. in any case what it came down to is that what I meant to say earlier is that there are many varied forces affecting the knife market, technology and economics being the big ones. I remember the 80's economic downturn very well, I know that it affected many differing markets. I haven't been at this as long as some, about 10 years or so collecting customs, very seriously only the last 3-4 years. (it's an economic thing, I've finally got the money to buy some) But I've been a knife and sword guy my whole life. I want to see the CKD at the forefront, it would be a gas! I'm being a bit of the devil's advocate, but I'm just saying that the stuff you anticipate isn't the problem, it's the unexpected stuff that is.

01-30-2001, 05:07 PM
I guess in the end, it's always a reflection of the best ideas coming forward.

I'm banking that knifemakers, enthusiasts and collectors are better off with more control and access to the global community they enjoy. The technology is the conduit that we use to connect our community together. It will do what we design it to do.


Rade L Hawkins
01-30-2001, 09:20 PM

01-30-2001, 09:36 PM
LOL Made me snort soda through my nose Rade! Thanks!

01-31-2001, 11:27 AM

Your absolutely right! All of us are correct, but we're correct about different things. I as you said look at this from a collectors point of view, Les from the entrepreneurs / purveyors point of view and Alex from the net as marketing tool point of view.

Quality and good price will never go out of style no matter what the product.
I'm asking how do we figure out if the quality is there and the e price is right.
Les is trying to teach people how to figure this out. His theory being that if he educates the consumer the consumer will go to him! (not a bad theory)
and Alex is saying that the net can be used to accomplish all this.

Did I leave something out? :evil:

01-31-2001, 06:54 PM
No ...

I'm the only one who's correct!

Ya'll follow me! :smokin:

That's easy to say coming off that big sales year you had on the web. The AV design you're on takes care of the things I'm talking about for you automatically, a layer deeper than what you see. It may appear that what you're saying is what's happening with your sales is, you know "business as usual" like always, but my point is in the communication technology itself.

People will always buy when the conditions are in place. That is when the object they desire is deemed to have value to them that exceeds it's cost by 1 cent and they are ready to buy. And, you make a quality piece that more than meets that challenge. But, that does not explain why your orders went to buyers all over the planet through distribution channels and gateways that did not exist in your business model before.

Think about that ...


Les Robertson
01-31-2001, 09:19 PM
Hi Rade,

I agree with you that quality products will always sell. The problem today for makers and to buyers (to a lesser degree) is that the makers producing quality knives has increased so much that the marketing ideas that worked even 5 years ago, no longer have the impact they once did.

The old question..If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it make sound?. It's the same with makers today. If they make a qualtiy knife and no one knows it are they a knife maker. Of course they are. However, if no one buys that knife how long can they stay a knife maker.

So it is important for makers to stay current, continue to promote their knives and attend shows to stay in touch with current customers and to meet potential customers.

I always find it interesting when custom knife makers want to seperate the buyers of their knives. As if somehow the money is different from one person to the next. Im pretty sure it all spends the same.

Rade I think you are a little quick to seperate all of custom knife buyers. Putting us into nice neat catagories that divide us by names and our motiviation to buy knives. As most of those motivations can cross over into each of your categories.

Dealers (including dealers who became Entrepreneurs), don't just sell knives for the money. Custom Knife Dealers may be the ultimate knife nut! I know that is why I became a custom knife dealer. Yes, it is true we do make money off of selling custom knives, you know like...Custom Knife Makers.

Rade, every knife maker I know, including you expects to be paid MONEY for their knives. True, on occasion some will trade for something they want. Most of the time the maker is looking for cash.

Rade Im not saying this applies to you. However, there are a lot of knife makers out there who feel that dealers do nothing to earn the discount they receive from makers. This lends itself to the mis-guided thinking that dealers only sell custom knives for the money aspect.

If this is in fact true, that the dealer is not doing anything to promote your knives, why do you give them a discount?

All custom knife buyers deserve the very best knife they can get for their money. No matter what what the amount of money they have to INVEST!

This is done through marketing (and there are several very effective types). The best venue for selling custom knives will always be knife shows. However, over the next 10 years you will start to see every magazine to be on the Internet. Mostly because of the positive impact this will have on the publishers "bottom line". Imagine, no paper costs, no printing costs and no shipping costs! Propose that to any publisher and watch them drool! Cyber magazine subscriptions will be the way of the future.

I have always held that knife buying is generational. The "old guard" is starting to give up reigns to the younger "next generation" of makers. Within the next 10 years, most if not all of the old guard makers will have retired or will be making knives on a very limited basis.

So now is a very good time for hunters, collectors, investors and dealers to be looking for a rising star. More than likely you will find that maker on the Internet.

Rade L Hawkins
01-31-2001, 10:30 PM
Guys I know that all products must have a sells force, be it individual maker, dealer, show or store. I don't have a problem with any of these. The more exposure, we as knifemakers have, the more product we can sell. The internet will give us this exposure. This will expose our work to thousands of new customers who have never gone to a knife show or read a knife magazine. The dealers who go to the shows across the country deserve to earn a reasonable return for their investment. It is an expensive way to promote and to sell knives, but; enjoying what you do makes this more fun than work.

The point I was trying to get across was that not all knife buyers are profit motivated. Some buy knives just because they want it, not because it may increase in value

01-31-2001, 11:17 PM
I will give you an example, of what Rade is talking about. I am going to the Las Vegas Classic. I just started my business in earnest the last few days. I plan on representing the small makers, the lesser and unknown makers. I already have 5-6 makers in the wings. I am taking 7 of their knives, 2 from one 3 from antoher etc. I am NOT doing it for profit, but to get them shown, and "out there" I only ask 10% from my makers, I am taking about $1100 worth of knives. Means $110 profit (right) if I sell all the knives. I figure all told when I get back from LV my outlay will have been between $2600 and $2800. So am I making a profit? No, I am trying to get these guys out there, shown, known. Their stuff is IMHO awesome, too good to just be sold locally.

Sure in the long run, when my site takes off, and I start selling $1000 knives, and my makers become well known( there is serious talent here) I will reap the benefits, if they don't go on to greener pastures :(

Just wanted you to know Rade not all of us dealers are out for the big bucks, sure it would be great, but I'm not holding my breath!

BTW any of you new, lesser known makers check out my site. You too Rade ;-)

01-31-2001, 11:59 PM
Oh ... without a doubt.

The largest consumer market in custom knives falls exactly where you point out ... users and enthusiast collectors.

I would make the point that the art/value collector markets are what will see percentage growth due to the nets ability to reach across boundaries.

The real trend to watch is "portal development". It is said in all net circles "he who controls the portal, controls his fate."

Watch what happens when we make everything on the custom knife net (our community) available from one single, customizable, starting page that has links (one level or less away) to every piece of custom knife information produced daily one the net that anyone could want. Call it "the CKD Portal" .

Imagine then serving information to that same interface with current discussion topics, the latest breaking materials and supply deals, personal web e-mail and address books, radio channels, video archives of maker demonstrations, real-media, ICQ, Firetalk, video-messaging, and searchable links of archive and community sites. Now, imagine all this being specific to the needs of our custom knife industry. That's where it's going ... that's where we're going ... we want the portal!

When you want to do the "new car" thing, you'll plug-in to the "new car" portal. When you want to plugin to the custom knife world for a while, you'll come to ours, the "custom knife portal."

The person or persons, regardless of the special interests of the community, who provides the best community interface for their people to plugin to, will be the big winners in this game over time.

Sites like BladeForums, ABS, Knifeforums,, and CKD for instance, will only be minor links on the "daily view" side of the portal view equation for those who use them. The big "pearl" is the portal! The portal supercedes all in terms of community traffic. The portal is where you do the best job of answering every need. Answer the most need, and you win the interface. Win the interface and you control the channels. Control the channels and you own it all!

That's the secret to this gig!


02-01-2001, 11:25 AM

what your saying is that you want CKD to be the knife version of Yahoo.

It's your starting point, your home page for knife knuts!

02-01-2001, 02:10 PM

That is correct! :)


What do you think?

02-01-2001, 05:21 PM
I think (to rip off the Nike add) "you should go for it!"

02-07-2001, 05:18 PM
Just as an aside. I would like to answer Les's question.

"If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?"
The answer is: No, it does not.

if the question was "does it make a vibration?"
Then the answer would be Yes. Sound by definition requires an ear to hear it.

welcome to science 101 ;)

02-08-2001, 05:13 PM
Correct ...