Things I’ve Learned About Selling Knives

So, since I’ve started making knives I’ve been listening to Podcasts, reading articles, and watching videos about the knife making business.  I’ve gotta say…there are some interesting things involved in the way people sell their knives.  In general, there are two basic ways that people sell knives.  There are custom knife makers.  These guys have an order book.  They take down your information, and when it’s your turn they call you and help you design a knife which they then build for you.  The second type is more like you’d think of a traditional sales business model.  These guys make knives (either one off customs, or set ‘models’) then list them for sale.  These probably aren’t all that surprising, or interesting.  What I found more interesting is that there are ways people sell knives to allow anyone to have a chance to get them, and their names can be a little deceiving.

First, there is the ‘raffle.’  A raffle is pretty much what you would expect it to be.  You pay a small amount…say $20.00, and if your name is drawn you win a knife that would generally cost much more.  To make it a little more lucrative most makers will limit the amount of tickets they sell.  Usually enough that they make a bit more than they would make just selling the knife.  A maker might have a knife he’d normally sell for $200.00, and he’ll say, “OK, I’m raffling this knife off.  Tickets are $10.00.  Limit of two per person, and I’m only selling 30 tickets.  So, you’ve got a pretty good chance of winning.  If you don’t win you are only out $10.00 or $20.00, and the maker gets $300.00 for a $200.00 knife.

Second, there is the auction.  The auction is also pretty much what you’d expect.  A maker puts up a knife.  They set a starting bid, and wait to see who wins.  The winner pays their money, and gets the knife.

The third one is the one that really surprised me.  It’s called a ‘lottery.’  When I think about a lottery.  I think about something that essentially the same as a raffle.  You buy a ticket.  If your ticket is the one that gets drawn…you win the knife.  Right?  Nope.  Lotteries are free to enter.  Anyone that wants can enter as long as there are spots open.  The catch is…what you win isn’t the knife.  It’s the right to buy the knife.  Which can be cool, because the people that hold knife lotteries are generally people whose work is in high demand.  These guys might have three years worth of names in their order book, and not be taking any more names (this is called ‘closing your books’).  So, essentially, you are not getting one of their knives in the near future.  So, to keep people interested in their products they’ll make an extra knife every month or three that they’ll lotto off.  It gives you a chance to get a knife from a maker you really like outside of the normal custom order process.  The only downside is when people aren’t aware what’s happening.  Then, they get super excited, because they’ve won this great knife that costs hundreds, or thousands of dollars, and then they are crestfallen to find out that they have to still have to pay for the knife.

There is a little look into the knife maker and seller’s world.  Hope you folks have a great morning/afternoon/evening/night!

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