Last weekend I participated in the recent gun show in Sauk Centre, MN. I set up 4 tables with axes, knives and accessories. Weather was cool and attendance was great. Saturday started with a line waiting to get in over a block long. The show stayed busy well into the afternoon. Most of the attendees had money and were ready to spend it. That makes everyone happy.
What was selling?
From what I observed, gun sales were really up. Personally, knife and axe sales were strong. It didn’t seem to matter if it was high end or the $20 used knife, people were buying. The biggest shift I noticed was away from the collectibles to what I’ll call the practical EDC folder and fixed blades. Maybe it was just the group that showed up that weekend, but the cutlery buyers were looking for quality hunting or bushcraft knives. Auto’s were another strong seller.
I did make one great purchase. Several years ago I had acquired one of the ‘giant’ knives. Totally useless but a real conversation starter. A fella came by the tables and asked me if I bought used knives and of course I said it depends. He pulled this gem out and I reached for my wallet.
That thing weighs just a couple of ounces under 2 pounds. The build quality is really good with good centering, minimal side play and solid lock up. ALL the ingredients of a quality built knife! NOT what you’d call a great EDC. But it’s mine.
Helle Knives well received
Last summer I purchased a half dozen of the Helle Limited Edition Temagami’s. There were only 200 of them offered for sale in the US. This winter they started selling and within a matter of a couple of weeks they were gone. I like the Helle knives but they’ve never been real fast sellers for me. For whatever reason, that also changed this winter. Sales picked up considerably and there seems to be a new interest in the line.
I think the Scandinavian patterns have been to foreign to some users due to the unique design. Slim blade profiles, flat grinds, minimal to no guards, it’s just too much for some of us. As with so many things, once people get their hands on one and better yet, get to use one the attitude will change. That slim blade profile becomes an asset when you’re making slicing cuts. The flat grind takes a razor edge and is super easy to maintain for even the novice at sharpening. Then they find the design of the handle actually is quite effective at keeping our index finger out of harms way.
This come across loud and clear if you put these knives in a consumers hands. I think that’s so true of so many products that are sold sight unseen online. There’s another dealer that attends most of the shows I go to. He brings in a lot of the Helle’s and the Karesuando knives. His observations are the same. So many quality knives get ignored only because people don’t get the opportunity to handle them.
Shows are still the best
I’ve always felt that shows are still the best way to sell. As with so many products, until you get something in your hands it’s hard to make an informed decision. The Condor knives are another example of knives that sell if people get their hands on them. Setting up and working a show is hard work and expensive. Setting up 4 tables, spending a couple of nights in a motel and meals usually runs about $500+ in expenses for a weekend. In my experience, its money well spent.
If you’re buying a new knife you’re unfamiliar with, try to get to a knife or gun show. It’s one of the best opportunities to do some serious comparison shopping. You can ask the dealer for details. Many times you may find another customer at the table that may own one of the knives your looking at. Nothing beats information from another consumer. Even if you’re not ready to pull the trigger on a purchase, you’ll never get a better opportunity to decide if it fits your needs.