Product Updates GEC, FrogLube, Ballistol

I had a couple of product updates I wanted to pass on this morning.  The first is the recent Northfield Bull Moose in Antique Amber Jigged Bone that came in yesterday.

#81 Bull Moose Amber Jigged Bone

The color of the bone on this one just rally caught my eye.  It has a nice, soft, traditional used bone look to it.  Great looking knife.  There are a couple more Northfield’s to come, in fact, I’m anticipating another later today.

A couple other product updates concern the Ballistol and FrogLube.  I apologize that I ran out of the 4 oz liquid FrogLube and 4 oz liquid and 6 oz aerosol Ballistol.  I sell quite a bit of both products at gun shows and end up forgetting to delete it from the online inventory.  Several of you have tried to place orders and I’m glad to let you know it’s either in stock or on it’s way.  The Ballistol order came in yesterday and the FrogLube should be back in stock later this week or the first of next.

It’s interesting that at the local shows I have people look me up to buy the Ballistol in particular.  The FrogLube is a little more widely available but the shooters say they have a hard time finding the Ballistol.  Both are outstanding products and once folks try them, they tend to continue using them.

Personally, I like using the Ballistol for cleaning both guns and knives.  It’s great for flushing out dirty pivots on folding knives, especially older knives in need of a good cleaning.  I use it as a lubricant for some of my guns, but I really like the FrogLube for my knife blades and firearm internal parts.  The great thing is both products are environmentally friendly and won’t harm leather and wood products.

Tell ya what.  If you’ve never used the Ballistol I’ll gladly give you a free sample of their wipes with your next online store order.  Just put a note in the comment section to include a Free Ballsitol Sample.  I’ll extend this offer through the end of the week. 11.12.17.

 

Weekly Update 11.3.17 Winter is Here

This weeks update is a bit short on news to update!  Frankly, there hasn’t been a whole lot going on or much to update as far as knives go.  I’ve just been alternating between enjoying reflecting on the hunting trip to North Dakota and bemoaning the fact the ground is still white from our snow of a week ago and will most likely stay that way until Spring!

There have been a few more of the GEC Bull Moose arrive this week and I’ll guess they’ll probably finish them up in the next week or two.  Personally, I like the knife and am really glad to see GEC revert to building some larger knives.  Once the Bull Moose is finished GEC will start building the 78 American Jacks.  And there will be a bunch of them!  You’ll have a choice of 21 handle options from 9 different SFO’s and the ‘normal’ GEC runs.  This will be their only focus well into next January.

No word on the Trestle Pine Gunflint delivery date.  Last I heard it would be the second week in November and I’ve got my fingers crossed that will happen.  On a positive note, I had more blades run for the Trestle Pine fixed blade Buddy and will start working on handle material next week.  Based on the reaction to the knives I ran with the Mosaic Pins, I plan on having more built with them .  I’ve thought about just using them on the premium woods and leaving the brass pins in the Old Growth Handles.  I also added the option of either a plain sheath that can be worn on the left or right side OR the right handed sheath with the fire steel loop.  The loop adds to the cost and if you don’t plan on carrying a fire steel, no sense in paying for it.

I had to laugh this week as I was going through some pictures I’ve saved on my phone.  The first I had was how much we (I) relate food to good times in the outdoors.  There were a lot of ‘food’ pictures and they always had something to do with memorable moments in the outdoors.  I do enjoy good food!

Lunch
Campground Beef Stew
Hearty Breakfast!

Another picture I had meant to share earlier this year was a road sign I photographed.  It dawned on me that most road signs let you know how far it is between towns.  After all that’s usually the most important indication where you are physically in respect to the rest of the world.  When you get into northern Minnesota that changes.

It’s way more meaningful to know how far you are from the next lake.  Once you get familiar with the area, explaining where you saw the moose or wolves is best understood by telling folks what road you were on and how far and what direction you were from which lake.

In days long past, the Voyageurs measured distance in ‘pipes’ not miles.  A five minute pipe break was allowed once and hour so a 5 pipe trip was about 5 hours ‘distance’.  If there was a strong headwind on the lake or slippery trails underfoot, linear distance was far less meaningful then the ‘time’ required to travel a specific distance.  So a couple hundred years ago the above sign would have been marked and read totally differently.

Even today, portages between lakes are measured in ‘rods’ not feet, meters, yards or miles.  I suppose that’s because pipe smoking is no longer PC.  Now I know with my short legs a rod is about 6 normal, leisurely paces over relatively even ground.   If I know a portage is 80 rods and I want to keep track of where I’m at,  it’s pretty easy to do.  Time how many rods you can cover in a minute based on the terrain and you can come close to pinpointing where and how long the portage will take.

Now, I know none of this critical information in the last couple of paragraphs has a damned thing to do with knives…..BUT, I did have a knife with me on all of the aforementioned situations so that counts for something.

This is worrisome.  It’s not even the dead of winter and I’m starting to ramble.  Could be a tough winter folks, bear with me!!!

GEC Bull Moose, Trestle Pine Delay, Queen EDC Knives

It’s been an interesting week so let’s jump right into it!  First is the arrival of the GEC Bull Moose.  I like it.  At 4″ OAL closed it’s a good size for a serious ‘working’ EDC knife.  The first one is a Tidioute with Green Jigged Bone handles and it looks great and feels great in your hand.

811217 Tidioute Bull Moose

The last of the 351217 Churchill’s also arrived.  I was really surprised to see the short run Green Banana come through with the ‘banana’ shield.  GEC ran the “Tango” a few years ago with the Guitar shield which was interesting.

35 Churchill Green Banana

I should have shot a picture of the label on the tube with the monkey peeling a banana, but the banana shield…..not sure what I think of that.  You have to admit it is unique!

An interesting note is the new tang stamp “CKC” which replaces the traditional “TIW” (Tidioute Iron Works).  It’s meant to stand for “Carbon Keeps Cutting”.

New Tang Stamp

I had a phone call yesterday and two emails so far asking about the Queen EDC knives showing up on Ebay.  The blades have been etched EDC and it sounds like they have various cosmetic issues.  Until yesterday I wasn’t aware of them and it appears they’re not being sold through dealers.  About all I know is Queen has put up a disclaimer on their website regarding any warranty on them.

The last item deals with the Trestle Pine Gunflint.  I was promised and assured these would arrive no later then the 1st of November.  Yesterday I found out they’ll START shipping the second week of November.  The Topper was almost two months late so I guess 2 weeks late is an improvement!!!

But the real downer greeted me this morning with our first measurable snow.   Last night we had 40+mph winds, temps in the 20’s and icy roads.  It’s way too early for this kind of weather!

First Snow

 

Hunting Trip ~ Memorial Pheasant Hunt

Just got back from a fantastic weekend hunting trip.  I was invited to put together a team of 6 hunters to participate in a Memorial Pheasant Hunt in North Dakota.  The owners of the ranch where we hunted earlier this summer lost their son in a hunting accident several years ago and the family holds an annual hunt in his memory to raise scholarship money in his name.  I put together a team made up of my wife and I, two nephews, a close family friend and her husband.

My wife and I got out there early Friday afternoon and spent a few hours in the field shooting at prairie dogs.  It took about two shots for my wife to figure out that 6.5 Creedmoor is user friendly and I had a tough time getting her to ‘share’.  I’m hoping I may have a new hunting partner.

Can I have a turn????

There was a banquet Friday evening with auctions, raffles and door prizes.  All I can say is we were living right because one nephew won a Weatherby shotgun and I won a youth model 22.  Can it get any better??? Oh ya.

I had donated a Trestle Pine Buddy for the auction which brought $250 making me very happy.

But the real surprise came at the end of the evening.  Our team was invited to come out and shoot  prairie dogs next summer and while there share in a prime rib dinner.  So how do you top that??

The next morning we found out that not only was the host of the banquet going to be our personal guide for the pheasant hunt, but we’d have the exclusive run of his ranch for bird hunting.   He literally drove us all over the ranch to different patches of cover and made sure we all had a good time.

Team “Holmes”

It was tough hunting with low cloud cover and a lot of wind.  There were birds out there but the wind made it incredibly hard to keep them in shooting range for long and the wind made them spooky, usually flushing well in front of us.  We only shot a couple of birds but we had a great time.

My wife had made plans for a picnic lunch figuring we’d have decent weather but that wasn’t the case.  I asked our host if he could recommend a suitable site out of the wind and he led us out to an abandoned homesteaders cabin about a mile off the road on the edge of the badlands.  What a view.  We’re miles from anywhere with nothing but scenery in front of u.

Edge of the Badlands

The old tumble down cabin sat with it’s remaining wall to the wind giving us great protection.  And there was just enough roof left to keep the scattered showers off from us.  Pretty cozy.

Homesteaders remnants of a “House”

We got set up out of the wind, got the griddle going and had a lunch of grilled burgers and all the trimmings.

Lunch

A good time was had by all!!  If you look real close you might see part of a hamburger bun hanging out of Buddy’s mouth.  (Not the original ‘Buddy’ but a damned good dog in his own right)  As you can see by the smiles, it’s amazing what a warm lunch cooking outdoors will do to take the chill off.

This was one of those incredibly rare trips that just got better and better as it went on. Hard as I try, I’ll never understand why we were treated as nice as we were but believe me, I’ll never forget it.    We’ve met some really nice people over the years but the Jim & Leona Odermann family is at the top of the list.  What a wonderful way to remember their son Mike, brother, father, uncle by bringing together people that share his love of the hunt and raising scholarship money at the same time.  They said his philosophy of life was ‘making memories‘.  Man he nailed it!  And yes, all 6 of us have already committed to participating again next year.  Wouldn’t miss it!!

Weekend Update 10.16.17

I participated in the Fergus Falls Show over the weekend and as a result, missed posting an update on Friday.  So this week, we’ll have a ‘weekend update’!  It wasn’t the biggest show they’ve had but it was a decent turnout.  Knife sales were good and I learned a few things.  Not a bad weekend!

But first, a quick review of last week.   It was a short work week for me as I spent 4 days in Trestle Pine Country.  This was the last camping trip for the season and we picked a fantastic time to go.  The weather was gorgeous and the leaves were really at their peak for color.

Every trip always seems to have it’s highlight and this time was no exception.  While we were cruising the back roads 3 timber wolves crossed the road in front of us.  The first one slowed down to check us out and two more came through behind him.  We’ve seen more timber wolves up there in the last 3 years than we saw in the prior 40!  It’s fun to see them but from talking to a few local residents, they’re also causing problems with livestock and pets.

I got back on Wednesday, just in time to pack up for the weekend show.  Now I play catch-up this week and get ready for a pheasant hunting trip next weekend in North Dakota and one last crack at the prairie dogs.  Then…. I’m done for a while.  Life is good!

Knives, let see, the first of the Northfield Churchills arrived last week and went out as quick as they went in the store.  The Smooth Yellow Bone is always a good seller and this one was no exception.  There are a couple more Northfields that will be showing up this week.

Northfield #35 Churchill Yellow Rose

The knife news that really caught my attention last week was the announcement of the GEC #43 Oregon available after the first of the year.

I’ll admit I’ve been pretty bored with the recent releases from GEC.  The Barlows have been beat to death.  While the small knives are popular, there’s an abundance of them in the marketplace.  We haven’t seen many big knives in a while from Great Eastern and this looks like a winner.

The first thing I thought was it looks like a large version of the #73.  The 73 was one of my first GEC’s and I really liked it.  The #43 is going to be a full 1/2″ longer at 4.25″,  so should put it in the size class of the #23 which measured 4.5″, or about a 1/4″ longer then the new #43.    My bet would be in the future we’ll see a locking version and possibly a 2 blade as well.  It sounds to me like it should be a great ‘work’ knife that’s not going to be overly heavy in the pocket.  Now, if we could just get GEC to upgrade it to a premium steel…..

 

Delayed Shipping and a Gun Show Coming Up

There were a couple more notes I meant to add to yesterdays update regarding delayed shipping and the upcoming Fergus Falls, MN Gun Show.

I’m going to be out most of next week so there will be a brief suspension of shipping.  First, i’m going to spend a few days in the northwoods enjoying the fall colors and just kicking back.  It’s not often I get to go up in October and am really looking forward to it.  Summers are special in that part of the world and Fall can be gorgeous.

As soon as I return, I start packing things for the Gun Show in Fergus Falls the weekend of 10/21 thru 10/22.   THE SHOW IS 10/14 THRU 10/15!! There will be one day to unpack from camping and get things sorted out for the show.  The show is at the National Guard Armory and I’ll have 4 tables of necessities you can’t live without.  Randy, Muskrat, Jim and all the rest of you I hope you can drop by.

It was a quiet week for new knife arrivals with GEC shut down for the week.  They’ll be back to work next week and I anticipate they’ll be working on the Churchills with a few knives going out next week.

The main addition to the store this past week were the Hess fixed blades.  Don and Andy Hess are getting busier then ever and extended delays between placing and receiving orders is becoming the norm.  Its a great line at a terrific price and more people that spend time in the outdoors are finding out about them every day.

I finished cutting the wood slabs for the Trestle Pine Gunflint just over a week ago.  That was shipped and should be just waiting to be applied to the knives.  With any luck we should see the finished knives in the near future.   The new curly maple is great looking and i can’t wait to see it on the knives.  Another wood that was a shocker to me is the Hawaiian Mango.  Wait till you see it!

Weekly Update and Some Business Changes 10.5.17

I’m moving the weekly update up a day as there have been inquires about some business changes I’ve made regarding the Auto knife portion of TSA Knives, LLC.  If you haven’t noticed, they disappeared from the store yesterday.  Let me start by giving you some background.

I’m well past retirement age and through the summer I struggled with a decision to retire, scale back or just keep going as I have.  Business has been outstanding and growing steadily.  It’s hard to walk away from a successful business but at the same time you really want to have more time to spend doing the things you really enjoy while you can.  This summer I spent more time doing some of those things and ….. it was great.  At the same time, I still enjoyed the business side of life but on a more limited basis.  I didn’t answer the phone every time it rang.  I backed off on some of the quantities of product I brought in and in some cases, skipped new releases completely.  Amazingly, it didn’t negatively affect the bottom line $$.  I picked up several substantial collections, did more sales off line than I have in the past and saw the Trestle Pine Knives get some traction.

A year ago, I decided to carry the new Auto’s from Queen and due to Minnesota’s archaic switch blade laws, I rented office space in North Dakota (switchblade friendly) to stay within the law.  All the proper filings were made to establish a legal presence in ND, sales tax numbers and LLC requirements fulfilled.  Not only was it an additional expense, it was, on occasion, a pain in the ass.  Every now and then, orders were shipped to the wrong address and it’s a 100 mile, 2 hour round trip to visit that office.   When you get there and find out the package isn’t, kind of ruins your morning.

While numerous states have made switchblades legal, Minnesota is still dragging their feet in revising the law so going forward, to continue operations the only option was to retain the North Dakota location.   When I evaluated the time and cost of selling the autos, I made the decision to drop the line of switchblades and not renew the lease on the ND office.   What aided the decision was an opportunity to move all of my remaining inventory in a single transaction.

So what happens going forward?  I plan to really look at the business and make a few more changes to make things a little easier while still keeping my fingers in the business (probably not the best analogy based on my stitch count).  While I have a lot of inventory that’s still not in the store, I may look at scaling back more of my purchases, only pick up the items I’m really interested in, work on cleaning up more of the odds and ends and maybe look at some different items that are less labor intensive.  Getting a shipment of 50 or 60 knives, shooting the photo’s and getting them listed takes more than a little time and effort.

The Trestle Pine Knives is one area I’d like to concentrate on more.  There’s a new model coming soon (the Gunflint) and I’ll be bringing out more of the fixed blade Buddy’s toward the end of the year.   I’ve got another idea or two in my head for the first part of the year.

AND,  I’d really like to spend more time acquiring collections of old obsolete ammunition, used gun parts, scopes, and other hunting and shooting items.  It’s just fun (for me anyway) to deal in that old stuff.   I’ve never advertised it in the past but I’ve made a number of trades for used rifle scopes, gun parts, reloading miscellany and such for knives.  That’s something I’m always interested in.  In fact, one of the early transactions I made a number of years ago with a well known customer involved a rather extensive collection of Colt parts for some cash and a knife or two I believe.  And more recently, another really good customer took around 30# of miscellaneous parts off my hands.

Anyway, the main point is I’m not going out of the knife business but I am making some business changes.  Other then the disappearance of the auto’s, you probably won’t see many other startling changes happen overnite.   But as opportunities arise…..who knows???

Are Knives Starting to Cool Off?

I didn’t get a chance to get a blog post up on Friday.  There was rain moving in for the weekend and this time of the year we have to start winding up some of the outside work while you can.  So, boats came out of the water, another round of leaves were cleaned up, etc.  The wet weather kept me inside over the weekend and gave me some time to look at sales for the year so far.  It was interesting and makes me wonder if the ‘collectible’ knives are starting to cool off a bit.

The first half of the year was absolutely fantastic for sales but I did see things start to slow up significantly in September.  While it’s not necessarily unusual to see things drop off for a few weeks or even a month, I like to try to understand if there’s a reason.  Sales patterns will change due to the holidays, prime vacation periods, economic upturns and downturns, exciting or boring product releases and so on.

Great Eastern has always affected my sales up or down to some degree based on what they release.  When they were on a roll with interesting new designs on a regular basis, as soon as most items went in the store they were sold out.  This past year, they increased the size of their runs and increased there focus on the SFO’s.   You can’t blame them as the SFO’s are a guaranteed sale for GEC and takes a lot of financial pressure off from the factory.  If they build 1500 knives and 900 are SFO’s, they’re absolutely guaranteed 60% of the production is sold covering the bulk total production costs before a single blade is cut.  Good business decision for a manufacturer.  IN spite of reducing the number of GEC’s I carried, my sales figures have been the strongest in 15+ years of online sales.

Queen has done a great job coming up with new knives and started using unique handle materials that have been well received.  They also started using more of the ‘modern’ steels giving people an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a super steel in a traditional folder.  They played a big part of taking up the slack from GEC.

The Trestle Pine line has done better then I had hoped for and working with Sven Kinast at Messerdepot has moved me into wholesaling the line.  Sven, Julian Holzberger and Stefan Schmalhaus (among others) have posted some fabulous pictures of the Trestle Pine’s on Facebook which has really helped spread the word in Europe.  Many thanks!

Hess has been a steady selling line that can’t be beat for quality at the price.  It’s just a fine knife.  With Fall upon us sales will pick up there and stay firm until Christmas.

So in spite of this relatively positive news, why was September such a soft month for sales?   Why do I wonder if knife sales could be cooling? That led me to do some digging on the internet.

MAP pricing (Minimum Allowable Pricing) has been around for years, it’s typically affected franchise operations.  While it’s rarely prosecuted in the courts (I don’t ever recall a case), I’ve always considered it to be a ‘gentleman’s’ agreement between manufacturer and retailer to respect the minimum price that the retailer wanted their products advertised for sale.  What you sold the item for behind the scene was entirely up to you and there are a lot of ways to skin a cat.  Usually if a dealer got caught selling at a lower then MAP the manufacturer would ask you to cease and desist but there wasn’t much force of law to punish you.  The greatest risk is having the manufacturer refuse to sell products to you in the future (which I haven’t seen happen either!).

The point behind MAP is to protect the brand.  If a popular product gets discounted at every turn (which we see more and more with the internet and Amazon in particular), it can start a race to the bottom to see who can sell the most the cheapest.  Unfortunately, not only is it an effective way to chase off your retail competitor, but you can end up devaluing the perceived value of the sale item.

I personally saw this happen on a large scale when I had the B/M sporting goods store back in the early ’80’s with Remington firearms.  Remington tied in with Kmart and Walmart ending up in a major price war with the independent sporting goods dealers.  Over the course of less then a year the independents all but completely dropped the Remington lines in protest and Remington lost a lot of ground which they never fully recovered for years.  For a while consumers associated Remington a discount brand and we saw prices on the secondary market fall through the floor.  If someone came in our store with a used Remington shotgun, we wouldn’t consider taking it in on trade unless it could be had for a fraction of the discount price.  It was the same with virtually every other dealer.  Ultimately, Remington started going out and having group meetings with dealers to try and mend fences and come up with a new marketing strategy.  While there wasn’t MAP pricing involved, it was a great lesson in what can happen when deep discounting takes place and a handful of discounters end up controlling the market.

Great Eastern, Queen, Victorinox and scores of other knife manufacturers have MAP pricing on some if not all of their products.  Not that unusual.  What I found interesting was that a few weeks ago Victorinox sent out a fall promotion that they were suspending MAP policies on some of their knives.  Watching Ebay, there were a few dealers thumbing their noses at MAP policies of other mfgr’s and blatantly advertising/selling below MAP.  In a rather bizarre situation, I was asked to maintain MAP pricing while two other dealers were exempted.  But the BS detector went off when a dealer publicly announced they’re going around the MAP policies to reduce prices because it gives them too large a profit margin?????  I’m obviously on a different wholesale price schedule!

In the past few weeks I’ve had a couple of calls that people asked if I would either match lower prices on some of the MAP items or beat someone’s price.  I wouldn’t do it.  So far, I’m still abiding by what I feel is a gentleman’s agreement… so far.  There’s always been competition and price cutting, but it seems to be growing.

All of this tells me either the market is heating up with growing competition for a larger piece of  market  share through lower prices.  Or is everyone just competing for a larger share of a shrinking market? I really got interested after doing a little research on Ebay.

Since they came out, I’ve watched the prices of the TC Barlow skyrocket from an issue price under $100 to prices on the secondary market of $200-300 and even $400+ dollars.  (The TC’s have been the bellwether of current collectible knife $$.)  This was happening literally overnite.  I don’t think many of us really believed that was sustainable.  Now I’m wondering if we’ve finally seen them top out and start to retreat.

Pulling up Ebay “Sales” here’s some interesting numbers.  Figures weren’t available for the full month of August so all I can do is compare the full month of September against the final 13 days of August.  If you compare the last 13 days of August to the last 13 days of September, the drop in sales and prices is even more dramatic.

In the last 13 days of August, approximately 22 TC Barlows were sold totaling $5385 with an average sell price of $245.  Only 1 went for less then $200 and 3 were over $300.  Several sold at a “Best Offer” price which wasn’t available.

In the ENTIRE month of September, a total of just 31 TC Barlows were sold totaling $5573  with an average sell price of $180.  That’s roughly a 25% price drop from August.  None sold for over $300, just 6 were over $200 and 25 were under $200.  Again, “Best Offer” sales aren’t included.

A brief look at Worthpoint shows that some of the older GEC’s from 2006, 2007 have steadily increased in value and didn’t got through that hyper-inflationary secondary market.  But a fair number of the older, more collectible GEC’s have actually sold at what I’d consider to be pretty reasonable prices such as a Tidioute #73 Chocolate Bone that sold on Ebay just over a week ago NIB for $78.  Other then the highly desirable stags and a number of very limited handle options, some of the older knives are trading close to issue price in some cases.

So does this mean the sky is falling?  Hell, I don’t know.  I doubt it.  Time to exercise a bit of caution?  Probably.  What I do think is that we may be seeing some of the insane prices finally slowing down and maybe retreating to a more reasonable level for this specific item.  This absolutely isn’t an overall analysis of the entire collectible market but combined with the other issues I can’t help but wonder if maybe there’s a bit of softening starting to occur.

There’s a big batch of American Jacks coming through Great Eastern and it’s going to be interesting to see what the reaction is to all of the available options.  9 SFO’s, and 12 production knives.  While I’m not a huge fan of the spear blade, I think they’ll sell well as it was a popular pattern when it originally came out.  Let see what happens to the secondary market when the speculators put them on Ebay.

Maybe people are getting a bit more introspective and questioning the ‘why’ a pocket knife is worth so much.  I learned long ago that the anticipation can be 10 times more fun then the accumulation.

 

 

Great Eastern #35 Churchill & Hurricane Sale

I listed the first of the #35 Churchill I received yesterday and have to say it’s a nice sized ‘cigar’.  It fits the hand nicely and doesn’t weigh a ton in your pocket.

#35 Churchill

When you put the two knives side by side you quickly understand where the model number came from.  The earlier #53 on the right (below) got shrunk down to a #35 Chruchill (left).  I was never a huge fan of the original 53 due to the size but the new #35 feels a whole lot more pocket friendly.

#35 Left ~ #53 Right

There will more of these coming in with different handles in the next few weeks.  Typically, the Northfields will be the last to come through.

A quick note on the Hurricane Sale.  I have to admit that I’ve made an ‘offline’ transaction that cleaned up some of the intended sale items.  My intent was to get more knives in the store, but when it comes to fund raising, I’ll take it where I can get it!  What I’ve done is lower the prices this morning on the few knives left in the category and will get a couple more in there before the day’s out.  I want to wind this up by the weekend so don’t wait!

I’m a supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project and make it a point to send a check every now and then to help.  With the hurricanes hitting the southern states and Puerto Rico as hard as they have, just seemed like it was time to support the Salvation Army and Red Cross a bit.  It’s good to have a business that pays the bills and has some excess left over to give back.  Anybody tells you they’re making too much money, suggest they send some of those excess funds to folks in need.