Selling Your Knives

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
#21
Pricing is always difficult and honestly, I hadn't looked at your prices at all so I wasn't scolding you, specifically. :D

I just wanted makers to look at the bigger picture and not sell themselves short. If a knife is a $500 knife based on materials and quality, then it's a $500 knife and shouldn't be sold for $300.
 
#22
John - "If a knife is a $500 knife based on materials and quality, then it's a $500 knife and shouldn't be sold for $300."

In regards to this issue, it is harder for a less experienced maker to make those types of decisions. The hardest part about "pricing" is that when you are a newer maker and have not sold a knife, or very many knives, it is setting the price. I have personally struggled with this issue. So have others. I want to be fair, usually to my own detriment. I am just that way. I don't sell very many knives but I want to be extremely fair to those few purchasers. I understand that I am not at the level of some of the maker's on this site. I get that. I'll keep practicing and praying.

I will say that established makers that have been through the process numerous times over have a better grasp of what their wares will bring in price. I think it is fair to say, they feel comfortable setting a much higher price based on that experience. Established makers also have a following that is more apt to purchase a knife prior to completion. I'm fairly sure most of the established maker's have a list of prior clients and interested persons that are more than willing to listen to the sales pitch. With practice, you earn that experience.

For newer makers, it is much more difficult to set a fair price. Newer makers have distinctively less of a following, less experience feeling comfortable in selling a knife, and are more willing to close a sale to a price close to an asking price because we want to get more materials to build the next knife or two.

Picasso or Van Gogh can paint a really messed up painting. So can I. In fact, they will be very similar. Maybe. Their painting will bring more money. But, I am still just as crazy!

I will state this . . . Brandant the more knives that you make and sell - the more comfortable that you will become in marketing your stuff. It just takes time, a little effort, and some good luck. I am thankful that we have KD to ask these types of questions to share in the knowledge of our more seasoned makers. They are a great help. Listen to their advice and keep plodding forward. You make a nice knife and should do just fine.

DeMo
 
#23
Hi Tracy,

Since you asked me to address this thread I will. First, most of your information is accurate some is not. Dealers are not all created equal.

There are only a couple of full-time custom knife dealers (note I said custom). Most dealers sell factory and custom. Nothing wrong with that, but you should make that delineation when discussing dealers.

A dealer who sells both factory and custom will have some knowledge of both...but is not a specialist. Custom knife makers need to learn the difference between the two. The main problem with selling both is that if you have a client interested in a custom knife but the dealer lacks the ability to explain the advantages over factory knives. They can fall back on a less expensive factory knife. The dealer gets a sale and you get nothing. Again, this is the most common knife dealer in the US.

Next, as a custom knife maker who decides to sell their knives has entered into the business end of custom knives. As such everything good, bad or indifferent about your business is your fault.

Next, most makers do not know how to price their knives. Which is why on average 60% of custom knives are taken home from shows. If you do not know your position in the market you choose to compete in your knives will not be priced to sell. They will be priced to bring home.

Next, you can make what you want...that is your prerogative. But understand that generally, you are not buying your knives. Also, understand that by adopting this business strategy you will more than likely not win awards, get in magazines, sell out and will find few if any dealers who wish to carry your work. Again, it is your business...do what you want.

Dealers are business people. We buy knives to resell them at a profit. The question you should ask yourself is "If I enter into a business relationship with this dealer (Note I said Business Relationship...not friendship...although it may turn into that) what can he/she do for me to increase my position in the market?" If the answer is yes then move forward with the business relationship; if not then don't.

I can only speak for myself. I look for quality for the money...value pricing. Those knives can range in price from $200 to $10,000.00. Value pricing....quality for the money. Custom knife dealers will know, especially dealers like myself who have been doing this for 31 years will know your position in the market. Consequently, they will know what your knives should be priced at to sell....not what you think you should get, not what you hope you will get, what the knife will sell for. A pricing mistake commonly made by makers is to ask another maker. Remember these individuals to not buy knives. Coca Cola does not ask pricing advice from Pepsi on a new soft drink they are coming out with. Why? Because they are competitors. Now you may see your knife maker buddy as your friend...buyers don't care if you are friends.

So to sum up:

* It is your business...you are responsible for everything good, bad or indifferent.

* Working with a custom knife dealers is a business relationship. As such it should benefit both parties.

* Know your position in the market you compete in and price your knives accordingly.

* Try and make what the buying public is interested in...not what only interests you.

Enjoy the craft, enjoy the people you share your craft with, as success in this industry is difficult to obtain and can be even more difficult to maintain.
 

BrandantR

Well-Known Member
#28
Well, I haven't looked into using a dealer or purveyor any further at this point in time as I had originally intended, but I did take everyone's advise to start using social media for better exposure. I figured that I would try and do some marketing on my own before paying someone else for their services. I can happily report that I found a new home for one of my knives for which I can attribute the sale to Facebook. I'm still getting the hang of things since I'm new to social media, but it does show some promise. I'll keep at it for a while and report back my experience. Just for fun, and because we all like pics, here's a couple photos of the knife that sold.

WIN_20160905_14_47_44_Pro.jpg WIN_20160905_14_48_01_Pro.jpg WIN_20160905_14_48_30_Pro.jpg
 

Justin Presson

Well-Known Member
#29
Nice Brandant! I was like you to and had no desire to be on social media but now I'm on it all the time for business and pleasure. Instagram and Facebook are great marketing tools.

Sent from my SM-G920P using Tapatalk
 

BrandantR

Well-Known Member
#30
Follow UP:

So, I've spent some time working the Facebook thing, and as I mentioned back in October, my social media bumblings did produce a sale and a couple inquiries. I decided to give the online dealer consignment idea a try, so I made contact with a dealer, packaged up three of my knives, and sent them off. The dealer contacted me as soon as he received them to let me know that the knives had arrived and that he was backlogged about two weeks on his consignments. After only a week he contacted me to work out the pricing for the knives. I had monetary figures in mind about the amount I wanted to pocket after the consignment fees for each knife and his suggested prices were right on with what I wanted. A couple days later (last Tuesday) he had two listed on his website and the third one was listed the next day. Two days later (this morning) I checked in on the knives and found that the one listed on Wednesday had already sold!!! I'll keep an eye on the other two knives and report back with any updates.

I'm very encouraged with this new sales tool and business relationship. It really took the frustration out of marketing my own wares. The thousands of hits per day on the dealers website was no doubt the contributing factor to the sale as apposed to the small handful of people I can reach on my own. I think what I might end up doing in the future is to push a new knife on my website and social media for a few weeks and if I don't get any offers, then I'll send them off for consignment. Obviously I'd rather pocket the full amount from any sale, but the 25% consignment fee I believe is worth it if the sale is made. After all, I can't buy more knife making materials from a knife that's still sitting on my own shelf.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
#31
sounds like a positive transaction. If you are satisfied with the dealer and how it went, post who it is if you feel comfortable with that.
 

BrandantR

Well-Known Member
#33
Well, I think it's about time for another follow up to this thread which I started about a year and a half ago. There was so much good information here that I thought resurrecting it might be helpful to someone who may be where I was back then.

Since I started this thread, I have tried to implement as much of the great advise given here as possible. I now have my own website, I'm active on Facebook, and I've tried using a dealer to market my knives. I think it's been the combination of all of the above, but I have had some pretty darn good success over the last year or so with selling my knives. I can attribute knife sales to each of the three areas that I use to market my knives. About 3/4 of the knives that I make now are custom orders from clients who have found me through my website or my Facebook page.

I want to thank again all of those who commented here, on this thread and in others, who have taught me so much about the business side of knife making.

Bottom line - if you want to sell your knives, you have to work at it. There are many tools out there at your disposal, so try them all until you find what works for you.