Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Around and about town

My father called me the other day from Florida with a question about math.  I suspected it might be about work or taxes.  Of course I’m flattered.  What child wouldn’t be when a parent asks for help?

“So,” he says, “how much dirt is in a hole 4 ft by 4ft by 4 ft?”  Now I’m thinking about footers and dry sumps and buying fill to plug a Florida sink hole.  Did someone cheat my dad by selling him 600 cubic feet of soil for a 64 cubic foot hole?

I tell him.  64 cubic feet.

“There is no dirt in a hole,” he responded.
So true.
Well, at least it wasn't this deep!

I’ve started ordering knives for upcoming shows.  I have a table at the Medina Knife gun show as well as a table at the upcoming OGCA show in Cleveland.  The Ohio Gun Collectors Association is one of the biggest gun shows in Ohio and our adjacent states.  It used to be in Cleveland at the IX Center, a big empty, hulking building used by General Motors to build bombers during WWII and later tanks.  That should tell you it’s big. 

I’m not sure who owns it now, but it was incorporated into Cleveland and of course Cleveland wanted nothing to do with guns, so good-bye to tax dollars, good-bye to local income from vendors, visitors who need to eat, sleep somewhere and buy gas.  I used to have a table there every show.

Well it’s back.  And frankly, the attendees have a little more pocket money and know that price and value are connected.   
This little guy  has a retail value of $40,000.  Yeah, that's a comma  not a decimal point.
They often buy a better knife.  So my dilemma is if I under-stock the expensive knives, I could run out.  If I over-stock expensive knives, I might not have a market for them anywhere else.

The opposite of expensive is cheap.  There is market for cheap, but... do you really want to be known a a cheap knife buyer.  Me?  I want to be known as a quality knife owner.
Purchasing knives is always a gamble.  Granted, if you’re big enough, what doesn’t sell in Ohio could be a hot item in Maine or Wyoming.  The problem is how expensive is it to get those knives out of your Ohio stores, ship somewhere else, and then sell ‘em.  

If you’re a little guy, well, all you can do is drop your price and hope the right person comes along.

I just placed an order and we’ll see if I guessed right. 

I just read that Servotronics has sold Queen Cutlery to Daniels Family Cutlery.  I understand DFC is in southern Ohio.  I had no idea that Queen was owned by another company, especially one that is a “distributor of fasteners and electro-mechanical hardware for aerospace, military, medical and commercial industries.”
I wish them Good Luck!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Medina Gun Show

I was at a knife gun show last weekend.  There has hasn’t been a show in this area for several months so I expected a good turnout of tire kickers and browsers. 

I used to do the same thing myself.  For a 5-spot I could look at stuff, ask questions, swap lies and have a good time.  I’d take a little extra cash in case I saw something I liked, but my little extra was 60 bucks.  I seldom found anything I couldn’t live without for under 60 bucks.  Under 500 bucks, there are a lot of once-in-a-lifetime deals in that range but beer budget doesn’t support champagne taste.

On the whole I enjoyed the show.  I sold a few knives and swapped a few stories. Bumped into a few-off the-wall conversations with customers.

“Got any full automatic knives?” he said.
“Yes, I just happen to have two.  One from Spyderco and one from HK.  Benchmade makes the HK line.”  I did my Vanna White imitation and gestured at the knives.  She is much better at that than I am.  He looked confused.  So I picked up the Spyderco and plugged on.

“I like the Spyderco because they put the safety next to the release button.”

He takes the knife opens it and said, “But you have to close this yourself!”

He grins and shows me a Microtech out-the-front and flicks it in and out.

“Very nice.”  I said.

“And your prices are too high.  I paid a lot less,” he gestured with the open knife blade, “for this than you’re asking for that.”  He points to my price on the Spyderco.

I try being nice, but I like the role of the curmudgeon too much to not play that part.

“That’s great.  Too bad you didn’t buy two of them when you had a chance and then you wouldn’t have to spend your time bothering me.”

Well, as Groucho Marx said, or maybe it was Karl, “Don’t just leave in a huff, leave in a huff and a half.”  And he did.

Later I see a fellow check my prices online with his smart phone.  That almost always means I won’t get the sale.

“Will you take $15 for that knife?”  Something about gun shows makes people think it’s a flea market and we will haggle like two Armenian rug merchants.  I’ve gotten used to it to some degree.

I look at the price.  I’m asking $24 for a nice Kershaw folder.  I typically mark my prices reasonably below MSRP.  I also pay sales tax out of that and of course I have to pay for it in the first place.  I don’t have a lot of room to wiggle.

“No sir, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

“Well, I can get it on Amazon for $17.”  (I checked later.  It’s a close-out and it’s a good price but you have to pay shipping and tax.)

“Well sir, in that case I think you should.”

He wandered back a little later and said, “Don’t you want to make a little money right now?  I want that knife, but I don’t want to wait two weeks for delivery."

Of course the answer was I couldn’t help him.  I also didn’t tell him that SIR stands for Simpering Imbecile Retard.  (No, it’s not politically correct, but it is true.)

If I was smarter I would have said something like:

“Yes I’d like to make a little money.  I’ll sell it you for the internet price of $17 but I have to charge you $7 shipping and handling, a buck for tax, grand total $25.  Oh, and you have to pick it up at my house in two weeks.  Or you could just pay me the $24 now and walk out owning it.”

That’s what I write this blog for.  To get it out of my system.  Someday, I’ll actually say that to some hairball.

I over heard this snippet of conversation at the show:
One man to another:
“I have to get home before the third quarter to protect my TV from my wife.”
“Oh, is she a football fan?”
“No.  She’s a Browns fan.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Be Prepared!

Living on the knife edge isn’t about doing crazy things or throwing yourself into the unknown willy-nilly.  It’s about taking manageable risks and experiencing everything life can offer.  The key phrase is manageable risk.  It’s different for everyone. 

Take Daniel Samuelsen.

ABC news reports he fell into a tunnel, near the mouth of Parleys Canyon and broke his leg during a hike on Wednesday morning and spent four days and three nights trapped in a drainage tunnel.

His cell phone died or was broken in the fall so no 911 call ("Excuse me operator, but I fell in a tunnel and broke a leg.  Could you send someone to rescue me?") to get the troops moving. 

He wasn’t able to attract the attention of any of the passers-by, but the acoustics of banging a rock inside a buried pipe can be daunting.

After four days without any food or water, he decided he would have to self-rescue if he wanted to survive.  The news media has confusing reports at this point in the saga.  He either made a splint and crawled out of the tunnel or got out and then splinted his leg.

Once he got out he was able to find someone who could help him.

Daniel made some mistakes and he may still lose his leg over them.  He didn’t apparently tell anyone who cared enough where he was going so they could look for him when he didn’t come home or into work.  His biggest mistake may have been to delay self-rescue!

He didn’t take any useful survival equipment, not a pack of crackers, not even the Yuppie Canteen, the plastic water bottle.

Okay, I don’t think you need to gear up with three days of rations and a three-season sleeping bag to walk through the local metro park, but depending on your cell phone to save your butt following an accident is stupid. 

Telling anyone you’d be back in three hours should have them thinking about what happened to you after a day has gone by.  Even leaving a note in the front windshield of your car about your hike could make a difference.  Surely, packing a shoulder bag, or stuffing a pocket with a mini-thermo blanket, carrying a button light and a power bar isn’t too much of anchor to Dullsville?  

I bet Daniel wishes he’d taken a whistle.  

I am reminded of what my co-worker Stan once said:  “Maybe your purpose on earth is to show someone what not to do.”

Don’t be that person.