Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Glass City Knife Show

Toledo isn’t that far away.  I know several great restaurants and attractions so it wasn’t much of a sacrifice to skip the weekend yard work and put the chore list away and head out to the first annual Glass City Knife Show.

My only question at this time is “Will there be a second one?”

The show was great.  The empty aisles made for easy walking and the dealers were happy to talk with anyone who wasn’t a fellow vendor.

Saturday morning Glass City Knife Show
We arrived at the show at 9:30.  It opened at 9:00.

I stopped at Spartan Blades.  They make high-end fixed blades with the extreme needs of the military in mind.  I stopped to find out more about their unique CQB tool.  Here’s the inside story.

You don’t just send people to war without providing mission specific training.  One of the frequent observations in mock drills and actual urban combat is you’re going in through doors while other people are trying to come out the same door.  Following these collisions you may end up on the ground wrestling with someone who wants to kill you.  Firearms are not always useful as your buddies can’t shoot them off you and your weapon is often trapped between you and the bad guy.  You need a knife.

CQB Spartan blades
I stole this from the internet, but the actual CQB Tool and sheath is way cooler!
Special Forces were taking half a pair of scissors, grinding sharp edges and carrying them high near the midline of their vest. The large ring made for a useful no-slip grip with gloves.   

Spartan Blades recognized the need and developed their CQB Tool.  The blade is 2.8 inches of sharpened 154cm steel attached to an almost skeltonized handle with a ring.  Spartan tempers the blade to 57-58 HRC.  The Kydex sheath can be lashed to a molle vest with para cord.  

Experience taught the military high center line is the best place.  To stay in practice (you want stay sharp with life-saving skills), a trainer is available and it fits the sheath, so once you’ve gotten it in place you can just move the live blade out and the practice knife in.  Very convenient! 

So now you know about the knife inspired by broken scissors.

I have been looking for a neck knife for some time.  I wanted something sedate, but with a classy sheath.  I found what I was looking for at Lee Beene’s table.  Lee is from Mesa Arizona and has a wide line of interesting knives, canes and gun holsters. But I only had eyes for a polished bone handle knife in a manta ray sheath.
My neck knife from th eGlass City Knife Show
Polished horn handle (I believe) and manta ray sheath.

The 2-inch blade is a fine steel file that has been cut and sports a shallow hollow grind.  The handle is polished bone, but I think it’s actually horn.  It has a translucent gradient of color I’ve never seen in bone.   I’m a little disappointed there’s no maker mark on the knife, but you find your treasures where you find them.

You can find Lee’s website at www.leecutlery.com

Mikey Yurco had a table set up and it’s always fun to stop and talk with Mickey.  He’s a very innovative knife maker who brings his martial arts experience to his designs.  He’s not afraid to experiment and produces a wide variety of blades and sharply pointed objects.  

We had a nice discussion of knife carry modes for self-defense and the need to be able to access a knife with either hand.  It’s a difficult task to develop a high degree of dexterity in both hands.  As Mickey says “I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous.” 

I especially like the knife Mickey designed for Boker.  It’s saddled with the clumsy name of 'Boker Plus Yurco.'  A trainer is available for this knife in either aluminum or red plastic.  If you get a trainer, get the red plastic.  The red and blue colors are associated with police and military practice gear.  More on this knife at a later date.

I found out Mickey is quite a fan of para cord and has several interesting knots and applications for them.  I especially enjoyed his Dragon knot.

Blind Horse was there.  They are making quite a splash for themselves.  My wife owns their orange-handled Colt knife she uses in the kitchen.  It’s very nice.  I have been noticing their combination leather and Kydex sheaths. 
Wide range of knives from Blind Horse Knives
I really like the combo sheath to the far right.  It's a leather/Kydex combination with a fire starting stick.
The blade doesn’t jiggle in the sheath or make noise when you draw the knife and the blade is protected from salty, corrosive sweat.  The sheath protects you from accidental punctures from slips, falls and improper knife reholstering. You can visit their website at www.blindhorseknives.com/index.htm

I don’t buy a lot of custom-made knives for myself.   The prices are too steep and there always seems to be a better use of the funds.  This show was different.  Phil Booth from Ithaca Michigan makes little folding knives he calls Twerps. 

Phil Booth's Twerps at Glass City Knife Show
Phil had two Twerps and I later bought the top one.  I liked the overall look of the top one better.  If the lower one had a finishing bar in the groove I would have bought that one instead.

The 2-inch blade is a flat grind with a high grind line and a false edge made from 154 CM stainless steel.  Phil uses thrust bearings to make the blade glide open and the knife has the customary snap when opening or closing the blade.  The almost lime green handle is G10 and he incorporated a moonglow spacer.  

Moonglow?   It’s a plastic with long life phosphorescence.  You’ve got to love phosphorescence.  It’s associated with "forbidden" energy state transitions.  It just sounds so science fiction!

Even without the moonglow, I had to have one.

Will there be a second Glass City show?  I hope so, but that's one tough question.   Stanahan Hall in Toledo is beautiful.   Crystal chandeliers illuminate the area, the restrooms are neat and clean and carpeting on the floor and the suspended ceiling keeps the noise down.  But….. 

Glass City Knife Show three hours later
We left around noon, and this is what attendance looked like.  The vendors still out numbered the customers.

A table was a $135 for half day Friday, all day Saturday and most of Sunday.  Most people have to sell a lot of knives to have a profit of $135 plus room and board for two nights and three days.  Advertising was bad, actually criminal.  There wasn’t a sign out front where traffic could see it.  The hall had a message board-like sign but the knife show had to share billing with several plays and other activities.  Parking was plentiful, but in back of the building, so no one knew anything was going on.

Steam punk knife at Glass City Knife show
A  Stream Punk knife.  I think these are great.  They remind me of the days of Super Science Fiction where engineers and scientists cobbled together machines and devices and won the day and the girl.  And if she didn't work out, they'd build a new one!!!
Fliers were passed out at several gun and knife shows as advertisement.  I got one at WRCA’s knifeshow in the spring.  I’m not sure this is the best bang for the advertising buck.  The dealers needed a lot of foot traffic.  I’ve read books on selling that indicate you’ll make one sale for every ten cold calls.  In knife land, despite the fact show attendees are almost pre-certified buyers, I think the ratio is one to twenty.  And that doesn’t count the attendees who are doing walk-about sales.

I was willing to travel the three hours it took to get there, but I believe a show like this needs to be supported by local traffic.  So the question becomes how do you attract local potential buyers?  It’s a question best answered by asking, “What other attractions are available locally so people can make a day of it?”

From a customer point of view, low attendance had some value.  I've been at shows where all the selling was between vendors.  Nobody makes any money, we just trade product.  Glass City dealers were skunked and sales were few and far between.  That makes them more willing to negotiate. 

I believe an aggressive buyer could have gotten some great deals.  Of course, I also believe what goes around comes around, so I’m careful not to make an a@@hole out of myself.  I may want buy from these guys again.