Posted by By Dexter Ewing on Jun 9th 2020

Knife shows are fun as well as informative. If you have been to one or many, you know what I am talking about. It’s almost sensory overload to go to a show, there’s so much to see, so many folks to talk to, many new folks to meet. For knife nerds like us, we relish the opportunities to visit any knife show around the USA or the world, wherever we happen to live. Regardless if the show is a small regional show to a major national or international show, the fun is the same. Like anything else in life, there are rules to abide by to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment of the total show experience. Most of us who were raised properly, know that common courtesy goes a long way in any situation in life. At knife shows, this is certainly true. However, in recent years I’ve witnessed certain behaviors at knife shows that personally, I find aggravating. Just write it off in your mind, and go on. Nothing much I or anyone else can do. Please let this serve as a reminder of what to do, as well as what not to do next time you partake in a knife show. 

First, it never hurts to ask. When you approach a knifemaker or dealer’s table, do not assume that you are allowed to just go up to the table and just pick up the knives for a closer look. Always ask the maker/dealer first before you even pick up the first one. “May I handle a few of your knives?”; “may I see this knife?” or something of that variety, and you would have broken ice right there with that question. Every time I have asked this question the answer ALWAYS has been affirmative. In fact, makers and dealers encourage you to do so. Even if you know the answer will be yes, ALWAYS ask first. It only just takes a few seconds.                  

         Tu Lam and Bill Goldburg

                                         Tu Lam and Bill Goldburg hanging out at the Spartan Blades booth

Second, if you are attending a show that is particularly crowded, such as the BLADE Show, not only do you have to pack a good pair of comfortable shoes, your money, but also your patience. If you want to visit the table of a certain maker but that table is already crowded with people, you can choose to return at a later time. If not, you’ll just have to patiently wait your turn to get at the knives. Do not force your way in amongst the crowd, because already, the maker will be engaged in discussion with one or a few attendees already. Just wait your turn and eventually, someone will allow you to move in closer to examine the goods. 

Third, is talking to the makers/dealer. A good portion of the time on the show floor is actually spent talking with people. That’s one of the fun things about knife shows is not only do you get to see a bunch of really cool knives but you also get to meet and talk with other enthusiasts and the makers/dealers as well. When the show is busy, it’s fine to converse with the makers/dealers there but just remember not to monopolize the maker/dealer as there are others waiting to speak with them or even others waiting to purchase knives from them. With the social media platforms as well as direct email and phone numbers, you can always get in touch with the maker/dealer offline from the show to converse further on your own time. I’m not saying it is not cool to talk with them inside the show, but they are also there as well because they have a business to run and items to sell. Be respectful of their time and attention as well. 

Fourth, applies more so to crowded shows like the BLADE Show. If you’re walking through the aisles of the show and you bump into a friend or friends that you haven’t seen in a long time, it’s natural to want to stop for a while and talk to them. Given the pace of the show, this might be the only time that you get to see and talk to them. When you do, please do not congregate right there in the middle of the aisle and converse. It’s already difficult enough to navigate through the show given the virtual sea of people but when you have to navigate around a group of folks conversing in the middle of the aisle, it makes it difficult for those passing through to get around and get where they need to go. Just move to an area where people can get around easily. 

           Spartan Bladers at USN Gathering

                Mark Carey of Spartan Blade talking with a good customer at the USN Gathering in Las Vegas

Fifth is do NOT do anything with the knives on a maker/dealer’s table if you are permitted to handle them for closer inspection.  DO NOT shave the hair off your arm to test how sharp the edge is. DO NOT clean under your fingernails with it. DO NOT drop the knife even accidentally, onto the table full of other knives. If the knives are butterfly knives - DO NOT stand there and flip them like they are your own. Obviously, if you bleed on it, you buy it. If you drop it, you buy it. Just keep that in mind. The merchandise is not officially yours until you exchange money. After you have exchanged money and you are happy with the transaction, THEN it is officially yours to do whatever you want with - pick your nose, pick in between your teeth, clean under those fingernails, or deftly manipulate a butterfly. Just don’t do these if the knife is NOT yours outright! 

Sixth, applies to children. More specifically, those who are parents of children. I’m all for parents spending time with their children, especially if it’s a hobby that both the parent and child can enjoy together. It makes me feel good to see dads and sons/dads and daughters perusing the aisles of a knife show. This is an excellent teaching opportunity to impart knife wisdom to the younger generation on how to safely handle knives, how to be considerate and use manners at a show, how many varieties of knives there are, the materials that go into making knives, and so on. Conversely, makers love it when kids are engaged and ask questions about knifemaking or their knives on display. It is VERY important to bring up young knife enthusiasts because the single digit aged boy you see excited to be at the show with his dad...could very well be the next highly successful knifemaker some 20 or 30 years later. Who knows! As a parent, please be mindful of the child and not allow him/her to randomly grab knives off the table and certainly, no running or general “horseplay” inside the show. Some makers/dealers may have swag like patches or stickers, or even a bowl of candy on the table. Kids love these especially! The maker/dealer may already offer a sticker/patch/candy to the child on his or her own but if not, do not allow them to just reach across the table for those. Again, always ask permission first! It will make even more of an impact if the child asks for themselves, even. 

         William W. Harsey Jr. signing knife

                                                  Bill Harsey signing a knife for a very happy customer

That’s about it. Just remember, a little goes a long way. Little gestures like being considerate and asking first to handle knives, to get swag off the table, waiting patiently for your turn to speak with the maker/dealer, just going with the flow while navigating crowded shows, and having patience. Common courtesy is all it takes, and it’s not rocket science. Common courtesy adds to everyone’s enjoyment of the show. Plus, who likes dealing with buttholes, other than a proctologist? Most shows I’ve had the pleasure of attending, most everyone is considerate and patient. Most already obey these rules, but there’s some who could use a reminder as well as those new to this hobby and haven’t been to their first show yet. The knife community as a whole is made up of really good people, and kindness and consideration always pays itself forward. Kn