Internet Sales Tax Coming!

If you were watching the news this week you’re probably already aware of the Supreme Courts reversal regarding their initial 1992 decision NOT to allow states to collect sales tax from out of state buyers.  Unfortunately for Internet buyers and sellers, that’s about to change.  In a nutshell, going forward it will be up to the individual states to decide it they want to collect sales tax from out of state purchasers.

An example is a what’s being proposed in South Dakota.   “Notably, the South Dakota law that kicked off the debate put in a $100,000 annual sales threshold, or in the absence of that, a 200 in-state transaction limit.”  So let’s assume you’re a small knife seller in South Dakota with $99,999 in annual sales.  As long as you’re making less then 200 ‘in state’ sales a year, you’ll be exempt from having to collect South Dakota sales tax from online buyers.  The bad news is $100,000 in gross or 200 sales in state would mean you’ve got a pretty small operation and most likely not making a living at whatever your doing.

A major difficulty I foresee is how/who calculates the sales tax.  In Minnesota, there are state sales taxes, municipal taxes and special taxes.  Clothing, food and drugs aren’t taxed.  If your lucky enough to live in one of the states without a sales tax, Delaware, Montana, Oregon, and New Hampshire.  (A fifth, Alaska, has no state-level sales tax but allows municipalities to impose the retail-level tax.) The other 4 states may also have the ability to charge local sales taxes.  But if you live in Montana for example and purchase a knife from Minnesota, you’re going to have to cough up an additional 6.78% in Minnesota Sales tax.  But my read is that living in Minnesota,  if I buy a knife from a Montana internet retailer, I don’t pay tax.

It’s also going to be interesting to see what the individual states do with international sales.  Most of you overseas are already getting screwed royally with exchange rates, shipping and import taxes.  To think the individual states would consider also charging you the prevailing state sales tax is a bit sickening.

Obviously, it’s going to take a while for all of this to get shook out.  Each state will have to decide what they want to do with this law but I can’t imagine there will be a single one that won’t be out there with their hand out.  Without a doubt it’s going to have a major impact on retail internet sales.  There could be a major advantage to relocating an internet business to one of the 5 states without state sales taxes.

I know the states are excited about the potential additional revenue stream and a part of me understands that.  There have been discussions on the radio how this additional revenue will help take the strain off from state budgets and bring a level playing field to the brick and mortar businesses.  What I haven’t heard is much discussion regarding what the impact could be on smaller, niche market retailers that sell solely on the web.  Often their products aren’t even found in traditional brick and mortar stores.  It’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.  I’m not optimistic.

 

GEC 15 Caveat, 14 SFO’s ~ Weekly Update

I’m sharing the Weekly Update a bit early this week.  Time to head out to North Dakota, visit friends, shoot a few Prairie Dogs, enjoy a great meal and reeeelax.  Can’t wait!

The GEC 15 run of regular knives is finished and the Bail & Chain series is coming up.  Chris sent out a caveat to dealers asking that we pass on the following information.  If you try to remove the Bail the odds are incredibly high that you will put a significant scratch in the bolster.  Should you modify the knife by removing the bail, you just voided the warranty.  GEC is NOT going to fix it.  I think we all know that when you modify a product it typically voids the warranty, so be advised.

The Fenix UC35 V2.0 lights sold out FAST!  As I said in the post last week, these are an incredible light at a bargain price.  Apparently quite a few folks are familiar with the Fenix line and the response took me by surprise.  I have more coming in an should have them back in the store next week.  For now, you can place a back-order and I’ll get them out to you as soon as they come in.

There still isn’t any clear info regarding the upcoming 14’s.  The last I heard there are going to be around 3000 SFO’s and no word of any regular production knives.  I’m getting totally confused about the SFO’s as it seems the terms have changed.  My understanding is that you need to order 100 knives, all the same handle  to get in on an SFO.  THEN, you are limited to just one handle.  In other words, you can order 100 blue but not 100 blue, 100 red and 100 green.  So, at best, you can only get 100 knives of a single handle and if you didn’t get in on the SFO you are SOL.  So does this mean there were 30 dealers (clubs, individuals) that ordered 100 knives each?  Don’t think so but I’ll be glad to be corrected.

I’ve had a couple of individuals wondering if there are any restrictions on who can get in on the SFO’s and to the best of my knowledge, if you can get your money on the bar, you’ll get served.  Interesting business model.

The question keeps coming up as to when the liquidation auction of the assets of Queen/Schatt & Morgan will occur.  I don’t know.  As I recall all claims against the company had to be filed by June so I would assume once everything is inventoried and the proper paperwork executed,  it’s just a matter of getting an auction date set.  There are enough serious collectors out there that would love to get there hands on a few unique artifacts that I think it should be an interesting auction.

More interesting will be finding out who ends up with the Queen, Schatt & Morgan, Queen City and other trademarks.  From day one my hope has been to see GEC purchase the names and get them back into production.  Can you imagine the Schatt & Morgan lines coming out built to GEC quality standards?

I’m not sure that will happen however.  It appears GEC is maxed out on production right now.  The addition of Schatt & Morgan would most likely more then double the demand.  My greatest concern would be seeing these names moved to an overseas production line.

I’ve been getting positive feedback regarding the crime report updates.  It’s  been suggested I make it a regular part of the regular blog posts.  Even though it seems a bit twisted that readers enjoy following the criminal activities up here I’ll keep sharing at the risk of further revealing our crime problems.  Our local guys and gals in Blue do a great job keeping things under control.

Remember a couple of  weeks ago when the fellow suspected his girlfriend lifted $40 from his wallet?

Well, let’s not forget the old biblical saying that we shall reap what we sow!

Blade, Boys Knives, Crime Update

Just a real short update this week and I’ll start with the Blade Show.  I didn’t go and I’m not sure how many of you made it but there seems to be quite a bit of grumbling.  In just the last couple of days I’ve talked to 4 people that went ( one didn’t even go in when he saw the line) and the complaints were all the same.  Had to pay to park, pay to get in, crowded as hell and the beer ain’t cheap!!!  It also sounded like they had split some displays off into different areas making it hard to get around to see everyone.  That’s too bad.  Let’s hope they make some changes to smooth out some of the rough spots next year.

I received the Red Micarta Clip Blades and OD Green Boys Knives today.  If you had an early order in you should have an invoice in hand by now.  Just a blunt reminder that I do expect the invoices to be paid within 3 days or you are SOL.  I’m really firm on that as there is another large group of 15’s coming in the next few days and I want to move these out as soon as possible.  Later next week I’m heading back out  to North Dakota for a few days so if things don’t get picked up in a timely manner, I can guarantee they won’t ship in a timely manner either.

I did order fairly heavy on the Clip blades and should have some decent numbers left available in the store after the early orders are filled.  The OD Green was completely sold out so no spares in that category.

Some of you may have noticed I had some Whalers that were added to the store.  I have an old customer make a non-knife trade with me and I’m basically handling these on a consignment basis.  I don’t typically like to do that but we’ve worked on deals like this before and it’s worked out for both of us.  Just glad to have some extras.

Just to wind things up quickly I have to share a few more posts from this past weeks Police Blotter.  Just about the time you think the boys and gals in Blue have things under control….

Been there done that!!!  Haven’t we all?  VERY common mistake but usually happened to me after closing time.

Hmmm….didn’t notice they hit the goats until they noticed the damage to the car?

 

Wonder why it’s important we know the complainant is ‘female’….

Have a good weekend and watch out for roaming goat herds!!!

 

 

Fenix UC35 V2.0

Fenix Flashlights released a new light this month that is well worth mentioning particularly if you’re an outdoorsman.  The Fenix UC35 V2.0 has a number of features that set it far above the competition.   It’s pocket sized, rechargeable, waterproof, powerful, compact and reasonably priced.

I sometimes neglect highlighting the Fenix lights on the website as most of my sales are at gun / knife shows.  It’s one of those products that creates a ‘wow’ factor when you have it in hand.  I’ve used several of the Fenix lights over the years and have found little fault with them.  The TK series has been a favorite for the tactical rifles or a compact pocket light.  Even though it’s difficult to really appreciate the lights without actually seeing them, let me share some highlights.

The Fenix UC35 V2.0 is an up grade to the standard UC35.  The first change is increased intensity of 1000 lumens which is one bright light considering the overall size of this light.

Fenix UC35 V2.0

A clever upgrade is in the center of the small gold button there is an indicator that lets you know the charge status of the battery when you click it on.  This is a handy feature that helps assure you have a functioning flashlight when you need it.

The light comes with a rechargeable 3500mAh 18650  battery.  While rechargeable batteries are great it’s a pain when you leave the charger at home.  And that’s when the battery is going to need a recharge.

The UC35 V2.0 solved the problem by including a built in charger that operates using a standard USB cord plugged into your car or 120V outlet. The USB port is inconspicuously concealed under a small rubber cover near the flashlight head.  When the port is covered, the rubber cover sits flush with the body of the light, well out of the way.

Fenix UC35 V2.0 USB Plug

Here’s a quick synopsis of the other high-points.

I’ve been using one for a little over a week and have to say, it’s a pretty incredible light packed in an incredibly compact package.  With the high intensity strobe feature, it also serves the purpose of an effective defensive device if you find yourself unarmed in a bad situation.   At the price, it’s definitely one of the best values in the Fenix line for a high intensity rechargeable light.

Boys Knives, Whalers and Crime Wave

We’re seeing the Boys Knives coming through in a rush.  The Antique Yellow arrived mid week and I believe there are at least two more handle options in transit.  My understanding is there could be a delay on the Boys Knives with the bail and chain.  Note, that’s “Bail” not Ball and chain.  There’s been a little confusion.  Last I talked to Chris about them there was an issue with the parts not being ready yet.

Another knife that’s in the near future is a run of 14’s.  Interestingly enough, GEC didn’t open these up to regular production but so far has only offered them as an SFO.  The SFO offering resulted in roughly 3000 (yup, three thousand) SFO’s.  I didn’t jump in on these and at this point I don’t know if they’ll offer a regular run or not.  Why would they with those kind of numbers.

The level of interest in all things GEC is nothing short of amazing.  Who would have ever thought we’d see a production run line of knives double and triple  in price within days of the initial offering.

I’ve been getting a few of the Whalers back that are going back through the store.  A couple of things are happening.  The first is a few people were disappointed that the Muscle Bone didn’t always ride flush with the bolsters.  When you encounter a rustic handle material like the Muscle Bone, that’s going to happen.  I’ve added a caveat in the store description advising of this possibility.  The second thing are the folks that haven’t been exposed to the Whalers before and found out it’s #1 a BIG knife and #2, it takes tough finger nails and physical strength to open the blades.  That pen blade can be a bear.

Otherwise, hope everyone had a great Memorial Day Weekend.  The weather was more like the 4th of July up here and that’s OK.  On the downside, we did have a bit of a crime wave hit last week.  Here’s a few of the more egregious happenings.  Gotta love the folks in Blue that handle this ‘stuff’ on a regular basis.

Hope the dude with the light fingered girlfriend reads the next report before he goes any further into the relationship.

Knife Pricing Creep

Knife Pricing Creep…. hmmm, probably not the best phraseology.  Let’s just accept that the word “creep” isn’t a reference to an individual but to an occurrence.  As in the price is creeping up.

In the past two years the cost of doing business has slowly but steadily gone up.  Postage costs have been one of the biggest contributors to increasing expenses.  The cost of a domestic shipment has gone up 8-10% and shipments outside of the US have really shot up.   I really sympathize with overseas buyers who can end up doubling the price of a knife through postage and duty.  The Whalers were costing $22+ to ship overseas.  Domestically, the Whalers cost $3.50 to ship and I have started adding the cost to some of the stragglers I’ve had come in.

PayPal and Credit Card processing charges have also increased.  Depending on the card, size of the charge and whether there is a currency exchange involved fees can run over 8% of the transaction.

On top of these costs, I recently had a rather painful experience with PayPal.  A package sent to Europe was diverted to Mexico by the USPS.  Once it hit Mexico the tracking information stops with no further updates.  After several months the customer (justifiably) files a claim with PayPal.  Even though I can clearly establish that I shipped the knife and the USPS is totally at fault, the loss is mine to cover.  It seems that PayPals “Seller Protection” covers lost shipments only if the seller can prove the package was ‘delivered’????  Sounds to me more like “Buyers Protection”, but that’s another story.

I’ve watched other dealers go from Free Shipping on everything to Free Shipping on orders over a certain dollar amount.  Some are bucking the old trend of trying to have the lowest price on their knives.  If you’re in business to make a living, margins are pretty critical to keep the wolf from the door.

In the past I’ve complained that we never know the price of the Great Eastern Knives until the day they actually ship to the dealer.  In a perfect retail world it would be great to be able do the same and precisely pass on the exact expense occurred on each sale…. (and a decent cigar still cost a nickel).

The point being, I’m trying to figure out a way to pass on some of these expenses without inflicting too much pain on anyone.  It’s a lot easier to calculate overseas shipping costs as there’s a broader window covering a broader band of shipping weights/cost.  I’ve tried using the item weight shipping calculator which isn’t real accurate and often ends up overcharging the customer.   The problem is really tough to solve when a $200 and a $59.95 knife both cost $2.69 to ship.

For now, I appreciate you listening.  Sometimes its easier to come up  with a solution if you can talk (write) through a problem.  To keep things running profitably, there’s probably some minor price adjustments in the future.  Hopefully, most won’t even be noticeable.  I do promise to make a best effort to keep them reasonable.

 

Latest UK Knife Proposal

I was going to take the entire weekend off and leave the knife business until Tuesday.   After reading today’s article in the Daily Mail, I had to share this.  John and the rest of my friends in the UK, I am not making fun of you but some of your lawmakers are outdoing themselves with the absurdity of some of their proposals to lower the knife crime attacks in London.

An honest to god, educated Judge made the following suggestions.

Judge calls for 10in pointed kitchen knives to be ground down to a rounded end after hearing three serious stabbing cases in last three months

Here’s a classic example of absolute stupidity.  “I would urge all those with any role in relation to knives – manufacturers, shops, the police, local authorities, the government – to consider preventing the sale of long pointed knives, except in rare, defined, circumstances, and replacing such knives with rounded ends,”

You have to read the entire article to really appreciate it.  Thank God, these comments were made during his retirement ceremony.

Simply grind the point off the knives and watch the crime rate drop.  Your honor, with all due respect, do you have any idea how easy it is to regrind a point on that knife?

Judge Madge said that any blade could cause an injury, but ‘slash wounds were rarely fatal.’

He told the court: ‘It is the points of such knives which cause life threatening and fatal injuries.’

Somehow, I hear a similar tone to the argument that all we have to do is ban the so called ‘assault rifles’ because they’re the guns that cause ‘life threatening and fatal injuries’.  Hell, I have an even better idea.  Why don’t we just ban 55 grain .224 diameter bullets as they’re the most common ones used in the ‘assault rifles’.  Voila!!! Problem solved.
On top of that, what about all the other pointed things in life.  Pencils, screwdrivers, 4″ golf tees, tent stakes, toothpicks, tree branches.   This sounds like a Monty Python skit in the making where all they need to do is establish a Department of Incredibly Stupid Ideas.  Check out the Department of Silly Walks.
This type of commentary from the bench is funny and tragically frightening at the same time.  As I said, I’m not implying the Brits have a monopoly on stupid lawmakers or judiciary.  It’s just that of late they’re putting their US counterparts to shame when it comes to  showing they really, really, REALLY care and want do to something.  Even if it’s just grinding the point off your kitchen knives.  Good Grief!!!!!

Wounded Warriors, Whalers, Memorial Day

I don’t know about the rest of you but in this neck of the woods, we are looking at 4th of July weather for Memorial Day weekend.  Typically this weekend also marks the opening of the tourist season (aka, summer) with cool, breezy, wet weather being the norm.  This year we’re expecting a hot sunny weekend with temperatures in the upper 80’s to low 90’s.  We need some of the rain you guys in the SE are getting but we’re not going to complain this weekend!!  It’s going to be a perfect weekend to take a moment to remember those lost in combat.

Thanks to Great Eastern’s generous donation of the Limited Run GEC Pins and those of you that have purchased them, I was able to drop a check in the mail for over $500 to the Wounded Warriors this morning.  That’s fantastic!  With Memorial Day coming up in just a couple of days I can’t think of a better way to commemorate the day.  Thank you all!!

These are a great looking set of all the regular production run buttons GEC has released.  Customer feedback has really been positive make a great centerpiece for any GEC collection.  Rare chance to pick up all of them in one shot.

GEC Limited Edition 30 Pin Set

 

The Wounded Warrior Project does an excellent job helping our wounded military and its great to do a little to help the cause.  My wife works at the local VA Hospital and every day sees the difficulties so many of these Vets face.  I encourage all of you to do what you can to help.  There are lots of great organizations that provide all kinds of services for our veterans and the WWP just happens to be my favorite.

Hopefully, today I’ll add a few more Whalers to the storefront.  I’m not taking early orders or reservations on these so don’t ask.  There were more then the usual number of early orders that weren’t picked up for one reason or another.  First I deal with the issue of cancelling multi knife orders to assure everyone gets ‘a’ knife and now I have knives that weren’t picked up leaving unsold/unclaimed knives.  Next, I’m gonna have some people pissed off that they didn’t get first chance at the ‘leftovers’.  You can’t win, so I’m not gonna try!!  First come first served.

This week another order of Hess Knives came in and I really want to get them in the store.  I want to put one of the Bird & Trout knives through it’s paces.  Over the years I’ve handled a number of the various B&T’s but never kept or used one for any length of time.  Time for that to change.  We’re getting ready to take another Dakota hunting trip in June and this looks like it might be a dandy knife for preparing lunch.

Hess Bird & Trout Leather Handle

It was sad to hear of the passing of another dealer in the knife retail world.  Derrick Bohn, owner of Knives Ship Free passed away unexpectedly this week and will  leave a void in the knife world for many.  In the recent past we’ve lost Bob Andrews, Terry Ray and now Derrick.   All three of these gentleman were involved in a business they enjoyed right up to their last day on earth, which isn’t a bad thing.  Greet every day as if it’s your last.  For some of us it may be.

 

Store Knives, Credit Cards and Monday Morning Ramblings

Monday Morning Ramblings… that pretty well covers it!  Over the weekend a couple of things came up and occurred to me that i thought I’d share.

For the last month I’ve struggled with the ethical decision of continuing to carry a credit card issued by Citibank ( aka: Citigroup).  They’ve taken a position of not working with businesses involved in the sale of ‘certain types’ of firearms.  Following suit, Bank of America made a decision to cease financing companies that manufacture ‘military style’ firearms.

Now Bank of America came into the picture when I received a solicitation to carry their card.  Not going to happen and I sent the solicitation back with a letter of explanation.  The moves by both BoA and Citigroup are meaningless, feel good attempts to make a show of  social consciousness.    Its interesting to research the companies both  corporations continue to finance in spite of their concern for mankind.  It’s all about profits.

I’ve been reluctant to surrender the Citigroup card due to the 5% rebate on gas purchases, particularly with the increasing gas price.  With 4 vehicles (3 4×4’s), 3 watercraft and a 4 wheeler, I do go through a fair amount of fuel.  So how do I balance walking the walk with personal greed.  Finally last nite I had something of an epiphany.

I was in the process of ordering a new upper for my AR15 and realized the best way to make my own statement was to use the Citigroup card to make the purchase.  Ah yes!  And I’m in need of more reloading supplies prior to heading west hunting prairie dogs next month.  My conscience is clear!  Even though my ‘statement’ won’t change anything, at least I feel I’ve struck back.

A major disappointment for me were the Muscle Bone Store knives that came in over the weekend.  In the past the store knives were offered at a decent discount and the knives themselves usually had minor cosmetic flaws.  In a lot of cases you couldn’t even see the flaw.  I had told Chris I would take all of the Store Whalers I could get and thank god she only gave me 4.

Muscle Bone Whaler Blade rubs

Whenever a blade rubs, you kinda wonder why.  When I opened the blade and looked down the spine it was pretty easy to understand.

Great Eastern has taken a hard line of no returns or exchanges on the Store Knives and I understand that.  If the price is right we can all live with a little less then perfection.  The problem is the discount for these store knives (to me anyway) is the princely sum of a 6% discount.  In other words, at retail a $149.95 knife would sell for around $140 in this condition.  Any takers?  I’m amazed GEC let a knife like this go out with their name it.  I’m struggling whether I want to send it out with the TSA Knives name on the package!

So I’m going to have 4 store knives going into the store under $100.  Gonna lick my wounds and take to heart the old adage, … that’s how ya learn!  I’ll try to make the flaws as clear as possible in the store pictures cause once you buy it, you own it.   I think these will be my last store knives.

What concerns me more is the grumbling starting to come in about the quality of the Whalers.  The Muscle Bone in particular has been criticized for having slabs that fall below the bolsters.  While the pull on the Whaler is, well, should we say ‘heavy’?, I have one coming back that the customer can’t open the small blade without a pliers.  And over the years, the above pictured knife is one of the most expensive EDC’s with the most egregious flaws I’ve seen.  It makes me wonder whether the increase in production is resulting in some sacrifice in quality.  I recall another manufacturer that got taken to the woodshed for letting things slip.  Hope it doesn’t happen again.

 

 

Incredible Customer

I have to share the story of an incredible customer that made my day.  He’s the kind of individual that makes the knife business ‘fun’.

After my on going whining this week about the situation surrounding the shortage of Whalers and subsequent rationing, I got a generous offer from a customer.  Understand, I was just venting my frustration and not necessarily soliciting sympathy.  (Well maybe a little)  I didn’t ask permission to use his full name but if he wants to respond to this post I’ll gladly give him full name recognition.  For now, I’ll use his first name, Jeff.

I received an email from Jeff telling me had ordered Whalers from several distributors in the hopes of getting ‘a’ knife.  Jeff ended up with two spare whalers and offered them to me in an effort to help more people get a shot at owning a Whaler.  He didn’t ‘offer’ the knives to me at an inflated price or ask for any special consideration, in fact, he didn’t even bring up reimbursement for shipping!

Over the years I’ve done a fair amount of business with Jeff and always respected him as a great guy to do business with.  If there was a problem with an order he was always understanding and willing to work out any problems.  He was never demanding about handle material, fit and finish, etc.  This offer pushes him over the top as a great guy.  Jeff, many thanks.  You’re a credit to the knife collector world.

Now, how I do put these back into circulation?  My first thought is to put them out at a markup over issue price and send the ‘profit’ to Jeff.  That only seems fair.  I thought about some sort of raffle but that’s a pain.  For now, I think I’ll chew on it for a few days and figure something out.

Another bit of good news regarding the Whalers.  I just found out this morning that I have a few Muscle Bone EDC knives coming.  Not sure what the issues are with them, but typically it’s nothing too serious.

Next up should be the 15 Boys Knives.  I’ve got a pile of early orders in place for these and don’t anticipate any shortage issues with them.   My understanding is that production numbers on these is ….substantial.  It’s just amazing the demand for that pattern.

At any rate, considering how the week started out, it’s great to finish it on a positive note!!