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Old 08-10-2020, 04:53 PM
Les Robertson's Avatar
Les Robertson Les Robertson is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Georgia
Posts: 4
Speaking as a custom knife purveyor, for 34 years (25 of it full time). Every maker out there is right to question why a dealer gets the percentage off your knives as they do.

What is it that your business partner (yes, that is what they are...with the emphasis on business) brings to business that you can't or don''t want to do?

As a business owner, everything you do, good, bad or indifferent is your fault.

That said, let's face it, there are about 10 custom knife dealers (These are dealers who only sell custom Randall's are not custom knives). Most of the dealers out there are knife dealers (meaning they sell any kind of knife. Factory, mid-tech and custom knives. in the beginning a knife maker will work primarily with knife dealers...not custom knife dealers.

Let me say this up front. I have never ever seen a custom knife dealer hold a gun to a makers head or threaten them or their family to get a discount. The discount to a custom knife dealer is a business transaction, pure and simple.

The question becomes, what are they going to do to earn this discount? Without a doubt the knife maker will have more experience making the knives. But a custom knife dealer with 10 years plus experience will know more about selling custom knives.

Speaking for myself (granted Im close to 35 years of experience), looking at your knives and talking with you at a show. Within 10 minutes I can tell you what your position is in the market you are trying to sell knives in; i.e. hunters, folders, Bowies, etc. Consequently, I know what your knives will sell for...not what you think they should sell for...not what you hope they will sell for. No, what they will sell for.

I can also tell you materials, styles, blade lengths, etc. that will help you sell your knives. Lets face it, no maker once to become the best collector of their work. You would be surprised how many their are of those.

The reason I and other dealers know this information is because (at least the full timers) is custom knives is all we do. Imagine how many collectors I will talk to in a week. How many I will talk to at a show? All the questions I get about trends, pricing, whats hot, new makers to look for, etc. This happens every day. How many collectors do you talk to in a day, week, a year?

Do you have a website? Are you employing Google Analytics? This helps you track, which knives, where the buyers are from, how long they stay on your site, etc.

Judges at shows. I have judged at Blade 28 times, usually with other dealers. The reason? Imagine have to pick the best fighter out of 50. Then the best Bowie out of 50. Best Damascus, Best Folder, Best Art Knife, Best Sword, Best Hunter, Best New Maker, Best Innovation, Best of the Show, Best of the Rest and other categories. It helps to have experience with all of these edged weapons.

How about getting your knives into magazines; guaranteed. How much is that worth?

What the discount is for, is the dealers experience, their knowledge and their expertise.

Remember, the relationship is a two way street. What do you as the maker bring to the table? Thre are about 3500 custom knife makers in the US and about 10 custom knife dealers. Most custom knife makers will never work with a custom knife dealer. Many more will work with knife dealers, which may benefit both.

Too many custom knife makers view custom knife dealers as someone reaching into the pocket and taking their money. If they can't tell/show you what you are getting for the discount...don't work with them.

BTW, 30% discount is excessive.

Les Robertson
Custom Knife Entrepreneur
Field Editor for Blade Magazine
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