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2016 New Years Wrap Up

2016 was and interesting year.  To begin with, it was one of the shortest years I can remember.  We had a great winter in this part of the world last winter which turned into a nicer summer and and a gorgeous, extended fall.  All of a sudden it’s winter again!

From a business standpoint, it was a great year.  I was lucky to have a number of really nice collections of older GEC knives come my way which helped drive TSA Knives to the second best year ever.  This was further aided by the almost continual release of new products from Queen.  The upcoming release of their 71 Express was an immediate sell-out with promises of more to come next year.  There were internal changes made at Queen this year and it will be interesting to see what 2017 brings.  So far, it looks positive.

The Trestle Pine Knives project was also incredibly gratifying.  Thanks to Mike at WSSI I was able to offer some unique pieces of wood for the Portage and Grand Portage’s.  There’s another release of the Superior coming up sometime in February/March, 2017.  I made a few tweaks to the next release which should be a positive for everyone and a lot of handle options.  You spoke, I tried to listen.

Great Eastern was a disappointment (from my standpoint) this year.  Very few new products to get folks excited.  If you like the #15 Boys knife series, you have to be a happy camper.  For the last year and a half I’ve heard that GEC was going to shift back to building more ‘production’ knives but I don’t think that’s in their plans.  No doubt it’s more profitable to stick with the SFO’s and build large quantities of a single pattern and you can’t fault them for that.  It’s seems they’ve also found a price point they want to stay with in that sub $80 range.   That’s a big market.

The knife business has changed greatly in the last 10 years and will no doubt continue to change.  Good or bad, that’s the way it goes.

Speaking of change, I was in my hometown for a brief time over Christmas and helped finish cleaning out the last of the personal items in Dad’s house.  It’s really funny what can trigger memories but this item caught my attention and brought back a few memories.

Skeleton Key

For those older folks you no doubt recognize this as a ‘skeleton key'(notice the “Germany” stamp?  Yup, an import!!).   There was a time up until probably the late 50’s, early 60’s when this was a common key that would open the locks on most houses particularly in rural areas.  Everyone basically had the same simple lock on the front door that could no doubt be opened with most of your neighbors keys.  In fact, you could go to the hardware store and pick up a new one in case you lost yours!  You could also probably feel along the top of a lot of door jambs and find one ‘hidden’ away.

It’s amazing what a sense of security we felt when we locked the door.  You just assumed if the door was locked no one would kick it in and surely would never be clever enough to be carrying a skeleton key.  Of course, most of us didn’t have a lot of stuff to lose anyway!!

Today we have electronic locks, security cameras, alarm systems, personal safes, passwords and it’s still not enough to keep you and your stuff safe.  Now we have chips in our Credit Cards to protect us but I remember the day of ‘counter checks’ at the grocery store and gas station.  They were pads of check blanks from various local banks lying on the counter with no account numbers on them.  You could pick out your banks blank check, fill out your name (no need for an account number) and write out a check.  Today a lot of businesses won’t even accept a check.  And of course if you lived in a small town, you most likely had an account at the local grocery store and gas station that you paid off on a monthly or quarterly basis.

So ya, things change.  Not convinced it’s better but whadaya do????  Keep your head down, move forward and remember, there’s always next year!!!

Happy New Years!!!

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Merry Christmas & Weekly Update 12.23.16

Another Christmas has crept up on us before we knew it!  Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older but it sure seems like the time between holidays gets shorter every year.

The week leading up to Christmas was an interesting one weather wise up here.  In a matter of 36 hours we went from -25F to +35F.  That’s 60 degrees!  Think of going from +20 degrees to +80 in that period of time.  There was a light dusting of snow Wednesday and a possibility of heavy snow and blizzard conditions Christmas day.  Fortunately, I’ll be back home before then.

Last week I had a pleasant visit with a customer reminiscing about Christmas’  past.  Both of us are in our mid to late 60’s and had similar fond memories of the holiday.  None of the memories were about major Christmas gifts or elaborate celebrations, but more grounded, long lasting memories.  The special foods that we only saw at Christmas.  Get together’s with family and programs at school and church.

If you were a kid in the 50’s and 60’s it’s pretty hard to forget the hard ‘ribbon’ candy and candy raspberries.  Those hard little berry shaped candies with a raspberry flavored jelly filling.  In the center of the table at Christmas was always a wooden bowl filled with nuts, a nutcracker and ‘pick’.  A tradition we still keep.

At our house food was always central to celebrating the holiday season.  The meals were delicious with lots of home canned food.  No frozen vegetables or store bought pickles, cakes or pie…no, no.  There was homemade fudge, divinity and taffy plus so many foods that weren’t readily available in mid winter back then.  Tangerines, Delicious Apples and lots of other fruits we now get from Mexico and South America regularly throughout the winter.

All of the churches and schools had choirs singing Christmas carols and put on plays centered around the holiday theme.  In the little country school I went to, one of the area farmers would show up at the end of our Christmas program dressed like Santa Claus handing out small sacks of candy that were much anticipated.  I think even the littlest kids could figure out who was in the red suit, but it didn’t seem to make any difference.  You believed without questioning.

When I was around 8 or 9, there was still an old ‘ballroom’ on the second floor of one of the downtown stores of my hometown.  Now this was a town of around 800 so it wasn’t exactly what you’d think of as a modern ballroom in today’s terms.  It was a big open room with a dance floor, a few booths around the perimeter and a small stage up front.  They’d set up folding chairs and with a projector borrowed from the school a movie was shown for the kids.  At the end of the movie Santa Claus would make his appearance handing out more of the brown bags with hard candy and an apple.

There was a  local fella that must have weighed close to 400 pounds that always took to the stage and put on a performance playing a kazoo attached to a short piece of rubber hose and a funnel on the end like a bugle.  I guess the funnel helped amplify the sound for our enjoyment.  It brings tears to my eyes laughing about that performance and wondering how kids today would take to that type of holiday ‘cheer’.  Talk about simpler times!!!

Sometime before Christmas, we usually took a drive around town to check out the Christmas lights.  In the back seat of the car we had a blanket to keep warm and tried to avoid breathing so the windows didn’t fog up.  No laser light shows or animated decorations synchronized to a sound track that played on your car radio as you drove by.  A few simple lights on the house,a decorated tree in the front window or lighted candles on the window sills. Usually the highlight was the huge pine tree on a hill just outside of town.  The people that lived there would string lights from top to bottom which was visible for a long way away.  The lights were those big candle shaped bulbs in red, blue and green.  It was truly an incredible Christmas Tree.

While I can’t really say I’d want to go back to living the way we did back then…. there was something to be said for simpler times and things.  Most of us were happy to have what we had.  I remember getting a used Erector Set one year that came from a neighbor kid who’d outgrown it. The box was a bit worn and a few pieces were missing but I  couldn’t have been any happier if it had been brand new.

The holidays today are probably just as joy filled, but different.  No doubt 50 years from now the kids of today will  look back at their childhood Christmas’ with a similar nostalgia we older ‘adults’ feel abut ours.

As for me, it seems like most of my Christmas ‘wants’ were pretty well filled when I was a kid.  Not much I need or really want anymore. This year, a warm fire, a good meal, a Christmas movie and I’ll be happy………but I will skip any kazoo concerts.

Merry Christmas!!!

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Special Christmas Drawing

These cold days have given me some time to dig around the office and I’m coming up with some stuff I forgot I had.  Here’s a good example.

Yup, a copy of David Anthony’s popular history of the GEC brands AND, it’s autographed by BOTH Bill Howard and Ken Daniels.  I don’t know how many of these are floating around, but I know it’s not many.

As thanks for another fantastic year for TSA Knives, the lucky winner of our Christmas drawing will receive this book.  Just post a reply to this blog entry that you want to be included in the drawing and you’re entered.  No purchase necessary.  I’ll pay the postage for shipping anywhere in the world so no matter where you’re at, join in.  Post a reply by Christmas Eve and I’ll draw a name Christmas Day.

Thanks again!!

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Frigid Weekly Update 12.16.16

It’s been a good week to work inside as the weather outside is frigid.  Temps have had trouble getting much above zero and when they have…. the wind kicks in.  Today we get a break getting up to +10F and tomorrow starts off cold and by tomorrow nite we’re supposed to be in the the -24F range with a breeze.  So what do you do in those conditions?  Stay inside and try to get some work done.

Pair of evening visitors

I did get a few more of the knives listed this week out of that collection and got a handful more in from another collection.  Seems like a lot of knives are coming up for sale before the holidays.  This morning I also created a listing for the new Schatt & Morgan 71 John Henry Express knives.  You can place an order online and I’ll bill you when the knives start shipping, most likely mid to late January.

Twice this week I’ve had email inquiries as to the availability of knives in the store.  In one situation I ended up with a rather irritated customer since his email inquiry came in late at night, I didn’t respond until the next morning and meanwhile someone beat him to the draw.  If there’s an item in the store that you want and the “Options” button is available, place an order.  As occasionally happens, if it’s incorrectly listed as available but is actually out of stock, we can sort it out later.   If it’s something you really want, don’t wait.  Some of the knives I’ve listed lately are in high demand for collectors and they don’t tend to sit for long.

That being said, I’ll admit to being a bit of a hardass when it comes to requests for ‘early’ buys on some of the more difficult pieces.  Every time I mention some new collection knives I get inquiries if I got any of this or that.  Typically, I try to respond which is often followed by a request to purchase.  I really prefer to put the knives in the store to give everyone a shot at them.  If you’ve bought from me in the past, you know I make an effort to keep everything in the open without a ‘secret’ customer list or playing favorites.

I’m not aware of much new coming through before year end.  Which is alright as I plan to escape for a few days before Christmas.   There will be some more of the ‘collection’ knives listed and I’l try to keep it interesting.  For now have a good weekend and stay warm!!!

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Charred Barrel Oak Beer Scout – Express Update

The Charred Barrel Oak Beer Scouts were just listed in the store.  They look good and come with a token stamped out of the barrel band and a certificate explaining what they’re all about.

Charred Barrel Oak Beer Scout
Charred Barrel Oak Beer Scout

I only received a few of these, but there were 225 made so there are quite a few available out there.

The response to the Queen Express was about what I expected.  Enthusiastic!  Just over half the knives I ordered have a name on them already, so if you’re interested in one, let me know.  It’s an informal reservation system.  Your name goes on a list and will be filled as available.  Based on the initial response, I don’t anticipate that any of them will actually get listed in the store when they’re released.

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Schatt & Morgan #71 Express ~ Whoa!!!


I believe just the other day I said I sure hope we’d see something interesting before year end.  Well, the #71 Express won’t ship until Mid-January, but this sure does give us something to look forward to!

Take a look….. I put up a short video on the TSA Facebook page:

The tactical market has held the monopoly on Automatics and other then a single release from Schrade, we haven’t seen any activity in the Automatic Traditional lineup for years.  If you do any checking around, the old traditional folder auto’s can run into the thousands of dollars for the larger models.

Queen is releasing the Schatt & Morgan #71 Express in a limited run of just 100 knives.  Fifty will be finished with Desert Ironwood and fifty with Curly Maple.  At this point, my understanding is they’ll retail around $250.

If you have any interest, drop me an email:  I have a feeling these will sell out quickly particularly with production numbers this low.

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RSS Feed Issues

I just found out  Google has made an update to their “Chrome” browser that’s causing a failure on RSS Feeds.  If you tried to subscribe and are getting pages of code rather then the sign up option, the recommendation is to go to the FireFox Web browser.  Should work fine over their.

My understanding is that Google is taking a ton of heat as the change is affecting RSS feeds other then mine.  GoDaddy advised me that they anticipate Google will most likely revert back or make a patch to fix the problem in the near future.  But for now, try using FireFox if you’re having an issue.

Don’t ya just love technology????  And Dave, thanks for bringing it to my attention.  Your not technically challenged, technology is just challenging you!!!

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Weekly Update 12.9.16 It’s Winter!

Best to start this weekly update with the announcement that it is officially winter in this part of the country.  We’ve had snow, high winds, blizzard conditions, high temps in the mid teens and we’re heading below zero tonite.  Oh ya, and the lakes all have a thin skim of ice on the.  But what really makes it official is  there is a rumor that the first ice fisherman drove out (or tried to drive) on one of the local lakes yesterday with his pickup and discovered 2″ of ice won’t support a pickup.  Not sure if alcohol was involved but if I were a betting man…..

GEC announced the Charred Oak version of the Beer Scouts this week to surprise of virtually everyone.  I had a couple of customers email me asking about them and that was the first I heard of them.  They’re running 225 of them and are apparently being allocated to dealers.   A number of you have emailed and called requesting a reservation but based on the low number I’m getting, I won’t be taking reservations.

A special run of 225 is a fairly big number for GEC so I’m guessing it may not be impossible to find one.  Just don’t wait forever.  Most likely, I’ll list them in the store and it’ll be first come first served.  I’ve suggested to a lot of you to “Subscribe” to the RSS feed on the “Recently Added” category on the storefront.  You’ll get an email notification of new items as shortly after they’re added.

Other then the Charred Oak, the Beer Scouts are done.  I have a good supply on hand of the Beer Barrel Oak which I thought was one of the best handles on this series.  Last I checked, most of the other handle materials are in stock as well.

I’m really hoping we might see something new from someone before year end.  The consensus from email exchanges and phone conversations, it sure would be nice to see something other then another iteration of the Barlow.  Nice pattern, but……  Be nice to end the year with a bang!  Stir things up a bit and generate some excitement.