By Dexter Ewing
We knife nuts have it easy these days. There are many places online to purchase knives from and it’s as easy as laying in bed and making your next knife purchase. Sure, we all can get used to online shopping real fast. No hassles. No fighting traffic on the road. No fighting crowds at stores. No going out in the freezing cold, blistering heat, in the rain, in the snow, or even at night. All done from the comfort and convenience of your residence. And probably, while in your underwear. Damn this having to wear pants business! All kidding aside, let’s not forget another type of dealer in our process of getting our fixes. I’m talking about our local brick-and-mortar knife dealers.
Brick and mortar knife dealers take on many different forms, and not just knife specific stores. They are our local hardware stores. They are our firearms and ammunition stores. They are our outdoor gear and clothing stores (NOT retail chain mass merchandisers). Or in my case...one of our local outdoor power equipment dealers is also a knife dealer as well. Sure, buying off the internet we get to save money as well as the time/hassle that comes with going to physically visit a store. But, these guys who own, run, and work at these brick-and-mortar knife stores are our neighbors and friends. They are like you and I - we work jobs to support ourselves and our families. It is important to remember that brick-and-mortar dealers are not places where you go to fondle and check out a knife then go home and order it off the internet for a lower price than what the store sells it for.
Yeah, prices are slightly higher at brick and mortar dealers. But you also gain more than you think. If you frequent a local brick and mortar dealer to any degree, chances are you get to know the store staff. Let me give you an example. One of the brick and mortar knife dealers just a few minutes from my house, is a locally owned, fully stocked hardware store that sells Benchmade, Kershaw, and Zero Tolerance. They also sell power equipment and parts for such. It’s very nice having such a store just minutes from where I sit typing this all out. It’s also nice to know that if I need spark plugs for my power equipment or engine oil, air filters, and such...I can always pick them up there. With locally owned stores such as this, when you frequent there you tend to get to know the store staff by first name basis and they do the same for you as well. The knife guy there is also very knowledgeable about power equipment and parts. I sometimes can talk to him about my needs to parts then make a segway over to knives without missing a beat. They kindly tolerate my coming in to browse the knife selection and handle some as well. But every now and then I like to make a knife purchase from them simply because I have come to really like this crew of folks and they’ve all treated me nothing but like family. It’s good to support folks like this. Also, another example. If you are into guns and have a gun store that you frequent to purchase your firearms and ammo….and let’s say they sell high quality production knives as well. You might want to sneak in a knife purchase once in a while as your budget permits. With brick and mortar, you get to talk to folks face-to-face and one-on-one. You cannot do this by pushing the “Add To Cart” button on the computer screen then typing in your credit card info during the checkout phase. And let’s say there’s a knife specific brick and mortar dealer that you like to visit. You go there and hang out on occasion and get to know the store staff and you come to genuinely like those folks. Again, make a purchase from them in person, as your time and budget permit as well. The knife store folks live and breathe this stuff. They “get” us fully because they are also “one of us”. They understand the love of high performance cutlery and the satisfaction of owning a great knife. These brick and mortar stores might not be able to give you a big discount but sometimes they will knock off 10% or 15% off the price of a knife for their loyal, repeat customers. Depending on your budget, you can say that any knife under $150 street price is game for buying in-person at a store. And anything over that just saves for the Internet and those lower prices. Regardless, you’re still supporting local business if you buy a $80 knife or a $300 knife.
Internet retailers can operate with low overhead costs which is why they can sell knives at deeply discounted prices sometimes. Your local brick and mortar store cannot. They have the rent to pay for on top of utilities, store staff salaries, and other associated costs with running a small business. Some might think Internet dealers are in competition with brick and mortar dealers but when you get down into the weeds, you’ll see that they are two different business models. Both have their advantages as well as disadvantages. I’d say that the “human factor” wins out at times here because there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction with talking to a live person who just “understands”. Support your local brick and mortar dealer when you can.