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GEC Knives Getting Too Expensive???

After I posted yesterday I really got to thinking about the question are GEC knives getting too expensive?  What prompted me to think about it were a couple of grumblings I heard about the 15 Bail & Chain knives and a few other comments about some of the recent releases, the Whaler in particular.

There’s no doubt they’ve gone up in price over the past 12 years.  Picking up a bone 23 back in the day for well under a $100 wasn’t  a real big trick.  In fact it was pretty normal.  But when I look at the price of a loaf of bread, my house insurance and the cost of going to a movie, it’s all gone up.  As material and labor costs increase the finished product has to go up as well unless you’re a genius at efficiency improvements.

When I look at the price of other knife makers out there I don’t really sense a major price move in the cost of the GEC’s.  Too me it seems they’ve stayed right in line with the competition and in many cases they’ve actually hung back.  Fallkniven is one brand I’ve seen some aggressive price moves in the past 8-9 years  but considering the materials and quality still think they’re well in line and a great product for the money.

I think the selection of knives using premium blade steels has exploded in the last 10 years.  Not only that, I think there are some great quality knives with premium blades that are highly competitive.  I’ll admit to being hooked on the newer powdered steels and for me, the level of performance is well worth the price differential for a serious ‘work’ knife.

I guess the point is, prices have gone up all over.  We’ve seen more companies releasing new products with premium blades at competitive prices.  But with GEC it seems like we’ve seen some interesting things happen that aren’t quite so obvious.  And these changes make me wonder why folks would complain about the price of their knives.

A couple of years ago it seemed that GEC made a commitment to build the simpler, lower cost knives as the core of their product line.  The Barlow’s became their flagship pattern with a price point well below the $100 mark.  The Farm & Field Tools and a couple others came in at the sub $60 range.  Serialized knives virtually disappeared.  Mammoth Ivory, Mother of Pearl and other high end handle options are gone.

These changes and the move to lower price point was a smart move from the standpoint it opened up the collector market to a much broader customer base.  It’s less painful spending $75  for a knife and being able to pick up several different options.  From a manufacturing standpoint, it has to be more profitable building a simpler knife with fewer low cost handle options.  Move those production numbers from a couple hundred pieces to a couple thousand and economies of scale kick in.

I think what’s happening is folks are starting to expect the price to stay fixed in that $65-85 range.  Add an option, upgrade a handle material, bump the price to account for the change and folks feel they’re being squeezed.  A price move of $10-15 is traumatic. Its interesting to watch.

Personally, I miss the variety and creativity we used to see, price be damned.  I haven’t carried a GEC for a couple of years now because I just haven’t seen anything that’s caught my eye and I’ve drifted away from the 1095 steels in my pocket knife choices.  GEC makes an outstanding knife at what I believe is an outstanding price point but I’d gladly pay the price for some variety!

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Knives, Prairie Dogs and Spiders

I haven’t gotten around to talking about the recent Prairie Dog shoot a couple weeks ago as I haven’t been feeling real good this week.  So let’s get the reason why out of the way.

Spiders.  Or should I say “spider”?  Last Sunday I woke up with a mild burning sensation on the back of my knee.  When I checked it out, it looked like 4 or 5 very small pimples in the crease of my knee.  I didn’t think much more about it until Sunday evening when those pimples had turned into  blisters.

By Sunday nite they were looking really ugly.

I went to the Dr Monday AM with a temp of around 101 and a leg that was sorer then hell.  By Tuesday morning my knee was swelling , it was looking worse and the temperature was still a factor.  So back to the Doc, more antibiotics and instructions to apply warm, damp heat and keep it elevated.  But….no diagnosis as to what in the hell may have bitten me.

After a ton of reading and conversations and picture sharing with friends from down south, the consensus is I’d bitten by a brown recluse spider.  We’re far north of their normal range but 3 Florida transplants all agreed that’s exactly what it looked like and the symptoms were consistent.  I’ve been bitten by all sorts of critters over the years but I’ve never had a reaction like this.

It’s still plenty ugly but I think it’s starting to heal.  Lots of drainage and dead hide peeling off but I think I’ll save the leg!!

Fortunately, that was all preceded by another great trip to the Dakota’s.  Our friends in North Dakota hosted a Prime Rib dinner (which included a trap shoot) for the participants in last years Pheasant Shoot .

One of our team members is 5 months pregnant but that didn’t stop her from getting in on the trapshooting competition.  She didn’t bring a shotgun but a couple of the guys were glad to set her up with a shotgun.  While she’s not even half our age we have a great time when we get together with Erin and her husband Pat.  We think of her as the daughter we never had.  She’s one of those people that are just plain fun to be around.

Just to let you know how serious a sportswoman she is, she hunts Elk, has hunted mountain lion in the Southwest, hogs in Texas, has hunted deer since she was 11 or 12 years old, used to run her own coon hounds when she was 16, hunts alligators with her dad in Louisiana and just came back from hunting bullfrogs down south a couple of months ago.  It’s kinda fun to listen to some fella try to impress her with his hunting experience and watch her just smile and say ‘really?’.   Gotta love her!!

We had some rain the first day we were out there so we spent some time driving through the southern unit of the Teddy Roosevelt National Park.  Just gorgeous country where you can see Elk, Antelope, Buffalo, Wild Horses and all things wild.  And the scenery… 

And we had time to get in some shooting as well.  Conditions were wet and that ground turns into a consistency of greased glass.  Your tires don’t sink in but the tread immediately fills with a mixture of clay and rock (check the tire) and from there on, its slip and slide.  I think my wife beat me to the first shots fired when we hit dog town.

As usual, it was a great trip.  An offer was extended to hunt on Jim’s ranch again next Fall for pheasants and believe me, we’re in!

I didn’t get much chance to comment on the GEC 15’s as they came through.  There’s still plenty of the Bail and Chain in stock.   And the Red and Black clip blades literally flew out the door.

Once the pictures of the 152118 Bail & Chain were released I started getting reservation cancellations.  It’s the highest rate of cancellations I’ve seen on a GEC so far.

It seems that most of the feedback I got was regarding the 18″ chain.  Most folks, I think, were of the mind the Bail and Chain would be a 3-4″ ‘key fob’ type of arrangement instead of an actual ‘vest’ style chain.  A couple thought the price differential between the Bail & Chain and NON was out of line.  I have to admit, it’s probably not the most convenient or practical way to carry.

I will give you a tip.  There’s a simple modification that can  be made to the keeper that does make it a bit more usable.  If you use a Dremel tool with a cutting blade, you can cut a slot through the keeper wide enough to allow you to slip it over a belt loop  resulting in a pretty practical setup.

In a few more weeks the 44’s will be coming through.  It looks good from the preliminary drawings.  I think its a pretty close representation of the Schatt & Morgan Gunstock and the Trestle Pine Gunflint.

 

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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.

 

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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!

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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!!!

 

 

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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.

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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.