The online community of knife collectors, A Knife Family Forged in Steel
I am looking for suggestions and recommendations from all of my Knife Collector friends. If someone were to want to open their own retail knife shop . . . what would you like to see . . . what would you recommend . . . what advice do you have? I want to hear any and all suggestions. Thank you!
Probably the hardest part of having a business that specializes is to have a friendly, knowledgeable and engaging staff. Personnel in sales should be prepared to clearly answer questions regarding materials, construction and use with confidence and humility. After that your shop and stock will depend on the customers you seek.
In addition to the knives themselves, make sure to have all the accessories necessary to take care of them. Things like sharpening stones, oil, cleaner, and oil for leather care. A good selection of books ont he history of knives, instructional books on care and repair and maybe books on carving.
I owned a bait and tackle shop for a while and made a lot more money selling the "extra" stuff than I did selling rods and reel. Sell things that get used up so people need to come back.
All three of the comments before me sound good, also maybe blocks of wax and cedar for whittling. A consignment area for local knife smiths and people with knives, or similar, to sell would be cool if you can work around the insurance or paper work part of it. Maybe knife and ax throwing competitions would be interesting too. Lots of brochures and resources to get what the customer wants if you don't have it, quickly, might help keep someone from going elsewhere .Lots of cool stuff , as mentioned before, but also maybe some carvings or crafts that people can look and think, wow, maybe I can do that with the proper knives or equipment.
In case you are interested I have photos of the inside of Smoky Mountain Knife Works, (world's largest knife store), and also of Knife World in Arizona. I will post them here if you want some ideas of how they display their knives.
Oh I love that idea. You need to move closer to me and I'll join you!
The above suggestions are great. To add to it, take some time and go window shopping. But look at stores, smaller in size, that are successful. See what they have. THEN I would suggest looking up some photos of older Hoffritz stores. They used to have GREAT window displays. The suggestions of "accessories" and extras are excellent and so true.
Also, seriously examine the market you are looking to open in. Hunters/outdoorsman? Rich collectors? Everyday middle class folks? Upper class environment? I have been to multiple knife shows with sellers offering the wrong items in the wrong market. They leave frustrated, not understanding what went wrong. I have been to knife shows that had two (yes 2) people come in on a Saturday. That was it. Obviously, wrong location and market. Then, who are your physical neighbors? Find a spot that relates well to selling your product. Placing a knife store amongst car dealers and a drive thru drug store may not be the best option. You definitely want those window shoppers that are not just driving or running by. Do your homework, keep asking the questions, watch your $$ and it could be a really fun venture.
Looking forward to hearing much more about it!
Don't forget the internet. There are a lot of people who shop on the internet. Check out the some of the websites that are out there. Knifeology.com, Arizonacustomknives.com,and Knifepurveyor.com are some that come to mind. There area lot of big stores that are going out of business because they have lost market share to big internet sites like Amazon,
Still looking for the folder with photos of those stores, but I did post some of them on my IKC blog during that trip. If you don't mind scrolling through my travel photos you'll find photos of both stores inside & out. I should mention also that I mistakenly referred to "Knife City" as "Knife World" above, oops sorry. Bryan is right about location. Knife City is way out in the desert at least 15 miles from the nearest town, but it is right along and visible from I-40, with billboards for miles announcing it's presence. Being visible is key, and having neighbors with high traffic doesn't hurt either. The most important thing I can say, especially having grown up in a family-owned business, is try to have six months to a year of savings available when you open to insure you can survive the early lean times. Many, MANY, businesses fail due to opening on a shirt sleeve and having no reserves, it's probably the number one reason businesses eventually fail. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
Don't think I can add anything to what's already been said, Data.
Varied assortment, both in styles and prices, informed staff, available accessories and related decor are at the top of my list.
Great comments coming in! Check out Knives Ship Free for a really great selling website. He has been VERY successful with his website as time has gone on. His marketing is also excellent, which keeps his sales strong.
I agree knives ship free has been very successful, he markets very strategically. I also think he is one of the hardest working knife sites I know of for marketing
Oh Boy, this is like asking what is your favorite pizza toppings. Get ready for 5,000 different opinions!
For me, the most appealing knife is a US made knife with natural handle materials (bone, wood, horn, stag, tusk, or pearl). You can't go wrong with that.