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Retail knife franchises?

Galloglas Feb 10, 2008

  1. Galloglas

    Galloglas knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    Do any of the Devilz own/operate a retail knife store that offers franchises? Do any of my Devil bothers and Sisters buy regularly from a local retail knife place? And what wisdom can you impart to me on this subject?

    Yup, the idea has passed thru my brain to open/research the possibility of opening a retail knife place in my home town. I'd like to carry all the good production stuff and select customs as well and purvey knife supplies and accessories to the local public. We'd do sharpening and offer a trade section as well as do some sales via the 'Net.

    I'm just brain storming at present finding that I may be incompatible with "traditional" employment. I was self employed for over 20 years (I still am part time...) and was a lot happier working for myself.

    Thanks for the help!
     
  2. stdlrf11

    stdlrf11 A Most Impressive Member Super Moderator Brigade Member

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    I've been working toward the exact same plan. I plan on getting part-time work at a knife shop to learn the business. I'm taking the money from that job and putting it into savings. Then I'm going to open a knife booth at the local flea market. Once I get the money together, I'm moving into a strip mall shop.

    The trick I've learned through personal experience and in talking with dealers is that you have to know your customers. Even though you like a knife, doesn't mean they will. I met a guy selling $3-10 knives that had a beautiful spyderco kiwi in his pocket. He said he would never sell the kiwi to his customers because they didn't know the difference between it and a Frost Cutlery knife.

    There is a huge knife shop in Ft. Worth that has a pretty good marketing idea. They put the brand name knife in the same display as the knock-off knife. That way the customer can choose between the two. Unfortunately they charge full retail +15-25% for their knives, so I won't do business with them.

    I would love to have a shop with everything from custom to Chinese so everyone who comes in will leave with a knife they are happy with, regardless of their income or knife knowledge.

    The best part would be that I wouldn't have to work for someone else.



    stdlrf11
     
  3. Mike Stewart

    Mike Stewart Knife Moderator/Bark River Knife & Tool

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    I don't think that there are any of the Franchise Chains left.

    You will have to go it on your own.

    That is a Big Task.

    The first Step is to write a business plan.

    Assess the population and any competition--including the Big Box stores. They all carry knives. Consider the State laws on What you will carry. Illinois is very tough on Autos and Bali-Song type Knives. I know they were arresting for assisted opener for a While and I don't know what the final ruling turned out to be.

    You will have to carry what sells--not what you like.

    What you like is not relevant to making a living.

    You will also have to have an effective Website with Competitive prices.

    If You are going to approach this from an idealistic point of view--Don't bother to do it.

    The high end of the business will have to build up and your Customers will slowly learn about better knives but you need to have something to sell them in the mean time.

    make sure you have more than enough Capitol.

    Most small businesses fail -- not because they are not doing the right Thing--it is usually because they can't afford to do the right thing long enough to build up a good number of Regular Customers.

    Mike
     
  4. Galloglas

    Galloglas knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    Excellent advice.

    I ran a consumer electronics repair place for 18 years. A TV repair place on crack...we were the biggest, most comprehensive repair place in the two state area servicing warranty and non warranty electronics for all the local dealers. We had lots of competition but managed to stay at the top of the heap thru great customers service and technical expertise. So luckily I have some experience in running a business and don't really have that "pie in the sky" kind of attitude....I expect a lot of hard work and personal investment.

    I'm truely skeptical as to there being a possibility of making this fly. I also marketed my skills as a pro musician for 20 years and learned the value of selling what sells instead of trying to shove what I like down someone elses throat. As with any business, the customer dictates the parameters and one either purveys what people want or one sits in the dark waiting for sales a lot. It's just a fact of life.

    But I do wonder if there are enough folks interested in the higher end knives to make the investment in giving them an actual retail outlet in this area. I appreciate the input. Most folks I know think a knife over $50 is just crazy. There used to be a "knife shop" at the local mall a few years ago and every time I visited it business seemed brisk. They eventually went under but when the mall gets $12-$18 dollars per square foot for a business front per month one would have to sell an awful lot of knives just to pay the rent. We have several areas locally where business should be good (location is obviously paramount...) that I could rent space or even a small building for less than $1000 a month.
     
  5. Mike Stewart

    Mike Stewart Knife Moderator/Bark River Knife & Tool

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    Another point to remember is that Retail Knife shops Must be Woman Friendly.

    A ton of knives are purchased each year as gifts for Hubby--Dad-- Grampa--Nephew and Uncles.

    To be successful the shop itself has to be set up to not only --not put women off--but to attract them.

    You may think it is a cutlery store but Women will see it as a gift shop. It has to look like one for them. It is too big a part of the industry to Ignore.

    You also have to remember that--like almost any other retail business---Location--Location--Location will apply.

    Mike
     
  6. Jeff Marshall

    Jeff Marshall Kydex Bender Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    Mike, you make it sound so easy. :bwah:

    After reading all of what was said, any little thought that ever went through my head about owning a knife shop or getting into online sales just flamed and burned. Matter of fact, so did my aspirations at this moment of opening a Northwoods WI bar. :ropeman:
     
  7. Mike Stewart

    Mike Stewart Knife Moderator/Bark River Knife & Tool

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    Jeff,

    The Real Key to a successful retail anything is Selection and Service.

    It is not Ultra Low Discount Prices.

    Most new merchants think it is all about price--they usually Burn out before they ever have a chance to build up a Reliable Customer Base.

    You have to be Competitive but you don't have to give stuff away.

    Having a Great Selection of Goods at different levels of retail price and quality in a Brick & Mortar Store is vital to success.

    Listening to customers is the most important thing.

    You don't have to do what they say--you have to begin to gauge who and what they are and want.

    It helps with putting together an assortment plan of goods that will turn over on a regular basis.

    People on forums are Knife Enthusiasts--they are great for that end of the market. They are not the typical customer that will walk into a Retail Store.

    Mike
     
  8. Galloglas

    Galloglas knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    The statistical truth (reality) is that *most* new businesses go broke in the first 5 years. Having run a business that existed for over 30 years and was under my management for nearly 20 I have looked reality in the face a couple times and beat the odds.

    A lot of success comes from attitude. If you assume you'll be a loser, you will be. It's tough to establish a new business of any kind and a guy needs to do his homework and make his decisions after weighing all the facts and looking hard and in an objective way at his location and his market. The economy and all that play a huge role *but* there are many small and profitable businesses in my location that succeed and prosper despite the odds against them. I'd like to try and sell upscale cutlery if it can be done. Possibility of failure? You bet. That never deterred me for very long if my guts and research told me I might succeed.

    I'm still in the brainstorming process. But experience has already taught me that there is no substitute for offering the finest products at reasonable prices and supporting them with the best service and smiles. Repeat business and word of mouth is essential in a brick and mortar small business catering to a particular fancy.

    There is a lady here locally that started a "Happy Dog Bakery" and was told from the get go she'd never make enough money to make it fly. 5 years later she has moved into a new building 5 times the size of her start up, has a great rep, and even people who laughed at her and said "I'll never buy $50 worth of gourmet, hand made dog treats when I can buy a 5 lb box of them at Walmart for $6..." have been seen with $100 worth of goodies at the checkout. And they come back. No one would lend her start up money. No one told her she could succeed and prosper having this much fun. She now offers grooming services, training services, great advice and can refer new clients/customers to boarding kennels. She is a tremendous attribute to the dog loving community and thinking of expanding into a doggie day care facillity. And making serious bank to boot...5 years into a venture she was told by experts would "never succeed".

    A shop in my home town catering to knife lovers? I think it can work but admit I don't have the "numbers" yet to put together a business plan or get capital to fund a start up. I'm not even sure it's a good idea for me. But just because it is *very* hard or 80% likely to fail in the first 5 years is not enough to make me give up on the idea.

    Not yet.

    Truthfully there is a huge market here for top end kitchen style knives as well as high end custom folders. I think with accessories and a sharpening service on site (I'll bet I could make $100 a day sharpening pocket/kitchen knives right off the bat...) and doing some clean up/fix up services on knives we could get the foundation for a decent business going. The places that have tried in the past were all retail only places that had a snot nosed, minumum wage clerk behind the counter. No repair services offered, no sharpening services, no one willing to show you the good stuff in the show case or order you something special/single purpose from available catalogs. Sure folks can buy literally everything on line for a cheap *but* there are a lot of folks who wanna hold one in their hand or see their options up close and personal and are willing to spend a little more to get it locally and have some level of support and such.

    I feel that a selection of knives and services offered by a sole proprieter and a couple of helpful counter people might succeed in the right location with direct mail advertising targeting knife aficionados. Maybe. It all depends on if I can startup for $30K and some borrowed money or if it takes $250K and prayers to get it off the ground.

    We'll see...I just wondered if anyone knew of any franchises out there on cutlery specific shops. There are none in this area any more.
     
  9. Mike Stewart

    Mike Stewart Knife Moderator/Bark River Knife & Tool

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    You are right about the kitchen knives too.

    We found that out.

    There are no well made American made Kitchen knives anymore.

    Until we jumped into that market late last year it was import or Custom--Like Butch.

    Nothing in between.

    Mike
     
  10. Les Robertson

    Les Robertson Guru of Steel Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    Galloglas,

    Any particular reason you want to open up a brick and mortar store?

    Why not start with a web site and couple that with doing local gun shows?

    When you are looking at opening a store, don't forget not only the rent, but insurance, utilities and the advertising you will have to have to reach within 100 miles of your location.

    I will give you that I don't know anything about factory knives. But it is very expensive to open up an actual store. This is why so many business's go broke. Outgoing always seems to be more than incoming.

    A business plan is an excellent idea. Don't forget to do the SWOT analysis and your marketing plan.

    Good Luck.
     
  11. okbohn

    okbohn knives ship free Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    If you do a website right, it is still stinking expensive. I have regular talks with my wife about how much money I spend....not fun...but it is the only way to do it right.
     
    stdlrf11 likes this.
  12. Jeff Marshall

    Jeff Marshall Kydex Bender Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    Your website shows the work too Derrick. Maybe one reason why I am always buying something off it. Feel free to downgrade at anytime so I stop spending money ok? :cadi:
     
  13. Chuck Gedraitis Knives

    Chuck Gedraitis Knives knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    There is a company near here called "On Edge Cutlery". I think that they have 3 stores. One is located in the Providence place mall in Ri and their overhead is 6K a month! I have no idea how they stay in business. They do however sell nice knives and autos, which are legal in RI.
     
  14. Galloglas

    Galloglas knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    In general, I feel that the "website sales/gun show sales" type thing is saturated in my general geographic area...I know that a web based sales option allow one to try and get customers from around the world *but* what I generally see is that competition generally is comprised of trying to sell as cheaply as possible and move a tremendous amount of product. I'm just not built that way. I'd rather not become another place that tries to move hundreds of knives a month making $5 a knife in profit.

    I kinda feel that the web based thing has its place but I feel that personalized service and sales from a local, brick and mortar location subsidized with internet sales might just be the ticket.

    I feel that the internet knife sales concept is basically saturated and sucess means bumping an existing presence by beating his price. Maybe I don't wanna work that hard *but* I prefer to look at it as trying to exploit an unused portion of the market here locally. I feel that there may be an opening for a locally operated top end cutlery only store where as opening another business that already has a lot of heavy hitters invested and established in it is virtual suicide.
     
    stdlrf11 likes this.
  15. Galloglas

    Galloglas knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    Ooops! Sorry...my computer glitched. Double post.
     

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