I got caught flat footed today.

phatjohn

Well-Known Member
#1
Need some opinions and advice here fellas.

I have a good friend who lets me put my knives in his gun store. I went in today just to say hi, there were a couple of other people in the store and my buddy who owns the store was talking to a guy about my knives. Guy asks me "why should I spend XXX on your knife when I can get one at XXX for less than half the price of yours"?

I was like a deer in the headlights. I explained about different types of steel, heat treating, materials, and the fact that my knives are hand made and come with a life time warranty. I also went on to explain that if someone wants to order a knife from me with specific materials, they can do that, but they can't get that kind of customer service from a mass producer of knives. The guy thanked me and went on his way.

Here is my question, what have other makers done when they are asked this type of question? How do you explain/justify the price of a custom handmade knife to a person who may be truly ignorant of custom knives cost and values and the person who just wants to be a horse's posterior?
 

Garry

Well-Known Member
#2
I really don't think you could do any more than you have. It's best just to describe your own product and leave them to decide if handmade is going to be the way. People seem to get the handmade idea or not. They are either fascinated on how you did it or will be happy with a $50 production knife. You won't have much influence there, however a polite discussion as you have done may give him something to think about later.
 

Brad Lilly

Moderator and Awards Boss
#3
I think you did fine. I'm not the most experienced seller but I have come to a couple conclusions. When someone is comparing your knives to a Walmart special they are not going to buy a handmade custom anyway. I just try to educate people on the positive points of a handmade knife and leave it.
 

Knifemaker.ca

Dealer - Purveyor
#4
I would agree that a custom product is not for everyone. Some people see no value in original art over a repro - no value in the book they are reading being a signed first edition - and no difference between a car off the assembly line vs a custom shop creation. The custom knife should out-skin the factory knife, because it was designed to perform - not necessarily to machine cheaply and easily. Once the skinning is done, the custom earns it's keep all over again as it gets passed around the campfire.

Rob!
 

Lagrange

Well-Known Member
#5
I just completed a knife for a guy who wrote to me on facebook asking for a sharpfinger. I explained that I can not make one and a sheath for what he can buy one for from a chain store. He said he knew and that he wanted a sharpfinger real bad, made with care and pride and with his specifications included. (materials and sheath)
Who am I to argue..?
 

Denny Eller

Well-Known Member
#6
I bought a pair of Serengeti Drivers sunglasses in 1991 for $110. My wife thought I was nuts. I still have those sunglasses in the same condition as when I bought them. They have cost me $4.78 a year to own them ($110 divided by 23 years). My wife, on average, has bought 3 pairs of sunglasses a year for around $10 a pair. That's $30 X 23 years = $690. I have had far better eye protection than she has and my cost of ownership p/year will go down every year that I continue to own the Serengettis. I could easily pass my sunglasses down to my grandson and he could enjoy that same great eye protection. When customers ask why they should spend 2 or 3 times as much for a custom knife (hand made in the USA) versus buying a production knife (machine made in Japan or China out of lesser quality steels) I tell them the sunglasses story and explain the difference between price and cost of ownership.
 

slatroni

Well-Known Member
#8
Hand made one at a time in the USA. I have been through the same thing and used the same answer that your gave. Ya done good. That guy will end up buying one of your knives.
 

rhinoknives

Well-Known Member
#9
Keep in mind that only about 1-2% of the entire population will ever pay the money for a handmade knife. I sell to the man & women that thinks quality first! Price second and doesn't blink when I tell them how much it's going to cost.
There can be some of the education process that it sounds like you did fine.

I sell Quailty handmade knives made to the customers specs and fitted to their very hand. one at a time. May I help you?
 

Rudy Joly

Well-Known Member
#10
People who ask questions like that already have their minds made up at the get-go. I got tired of trying to justify what I do to the unaware. My standard answer now is...."Intended function, geometry and materials. I can put an edge on a rock and make it cut but once it's dull, it's still a rock. Unless you've made a functional tool with your own hands, you'll never get it". Something to that effect and in the nicest manner I can muster. It usually opens up more questions if you keep your answer brief....if they're really interested.

I may be getting old and grumpy too.


Rudy
 

wall e

Well-Known Member
#11
Rudy you could have told them a production knife for xx bucks is like a polished turd. Shiny an flashy but still crap. Im a novice rookie newbie so I dont have the same experience as the old sages on here but, it comes down to quality over quantity. I have a friend who will let me sell some of my knives at his military surplus store so Im a bit excited and nervous.
 

Rudy Joly

Well-Known Member
#12
Wall-e,
In any sales situation to the public, you have to be "diplomatic" in your choice of words and delivery. Get your message across without making them all boo-boo faced. In my everyday life in construction, All bets are off.

Take every opportunity too get your product out of your shop and into peoples' hands.



Rudy
 
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arock

Well-Known Member
#13
lol Wall e I guess I would of taking that advice might be that prior military desensitized me a bit but now days people can't take jokes so Rudy is right! But your sales tactic is hilarious.
 

wall e

Well-Known Member
#14
Ty. Lol some of it also from my family as well. I know all to well about the public and people in general. I work in a grocery store and as a parking enforcement officer. You cant look at em an say theyre being fn stoopid, You have to say that is not how its done and talk to them like a toddler. The general public today is so overly sensitive and has to be handled with kid gloves. Lipstick on a pig is another fav of my gpaws. Lol sorry to steal the spotlight of the post. I still have a few grunt bugs to hide when dealing with customers.
 

N.N

Well-Known Member
#15
I had a similar situation recently. A guy tells me he wants one of my knifes because he's tired of his gerber not holding an edge. I told him, yeah, you can put down $100 on something production that will hold that edge and have something that everybody else has. Or at that price point, you can put down a little more and have something completely unique, with your specifications, and you know the guy who made it. I think most people that are willing to drop that much on a knife don't mind the extra step and will appreciate it. The guy you were talking to is going to buy another gerber and never really know or care what he's missing.
 

BrandantR

Well-Known Member
#16
When people ask me what the difference is between a production knife and a hand-made custom knife, I like to use the analogy of a quilt. You can go to Wal-mart and buy a quilt to cover your bed for $30 or $40 bucks, or you can buy a hand-made quilt by a master quilter for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. They both function the same, i.e. cover your bed and keep you warm at night. The difference is the Wal-mart quilt is made with inferior materials by unskilled labor. The hand-made quilt is made with the best materials by a true artist and represents countless hours of learning the craft and many many hours of designing and actual work on the quilt. On the one hand, you get a cheep quilt, on the other, you get a true work of art.
 

rhinoknives

Well-Known Member
#17
Diplomatic? When a man walks by my knives at my Farmers Marker display case and shudders telling me they are afraid of knives or some such.
I just say, Well you know what Sigmund Freud said?

They will usually reply, What was that? I smile and say,

"Fear of weapons is a sign of sexual immaturity" There's no sale there anyway!:biggrin:
 

MT Knives

Well-Known Member
#18
I struggle with the same thing, it is a mater of priority. It bothers me when someone says they could never afford one of my knives. Because I know most of them people have a 4-800 dollar tv sitting in their living room. They could afford it but choose not to, and that is fine. However just be truthful and say it isn't your priority to own a custom knife.

I never thought of myself as an Artist until I had been called one several times by customers. As I thought about it I found it to be true. And who would expect an artist to paint an original painting for the cost of a reproduction? I feel my work is art, and my customers are not simply purchasing a knife. But a piece of art that will hopefully be passed down from generation to generation. And it isn't always the best painting, or flawless music that brings the highest price.

I don't appreciate some art but I don't cut it down the to maker either, unfortunately you find some who feel the need to give their unwanted, unsolicited opinions.

I am truly grateful for the support I have from my customers who appreciate my work.
 

MT Knives

Well-Known Member
#19
I just completed a knife for a guy who wrote to me on facebook asking for a sharpfinger. I explained that I can not make one and a sheath for what he can buy one for from a chain store. He said he knew and that he wanted a sharpfinger real bad, made with care and pride and with his specifications included. (materials and sheath)
Who am I to argue..?
I just told a guy this weekend he could find what he wanted cheaper somewhere else but told him what I needed to make what he wanted. Then someone made the comment that I found funny, "A gourmet chef can make you mac and cheese but your are going to pay gourmet prices" :D I know I still have a long way to go in knife making however I don't set my prices based on production or imported work.
 

Ricky Finch

Well-Known Member
#20
I had a customer a few years ago with the same questions. I found out he was a hunter , got to talking about hunting, what type of gun and scope he used. He had about $700.00 in the combo. I ask how long did he expect the gun to last, he said his life time. So I ask, you wouldn't spend x amount on a Custom knife that would last a lifetime. It got him to thinking. Some people see price, others see what a handmade/custom knife really is.
 
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