CNJ Editorial- Just what is a knife collector club? It is time for the question to be asked.

smallmensfashionsturnofcenturyA much talked about topic here at CNJ is how times change. We look at knife history and current events, and oftentimes compare the two. The methods, materials, habits of collectors, preferences, knife companies starting up and closing down, sales and advertising methods, etc. Today, we are fortunate to witness, firsthand, another change and one that started only recently, but will forevermore change the knife industry and knife collecting.

communityvirtualMore and more knife enthusiasts are online today. Some knife folks use the web to further their knife hobby, while others are finding out they are in fact collectors and didn’t realize it, and others still are becoming collectors as a direct result of the web. The phenomenon we’re clearly seeing is all these folks beginning to congregate online too. Yes, they are like-minded in their passion for knives and they are coming together- online.

The online congregating of these knife collectors leads me to one question-

When, if ever, does an online place knife collectors gather become a knife club?

Many of these online places are more than simply posting boards of topics and replies too. I know of one that’s a true social network, much like facebook or MySpace, and yet it is exclusively for connecting knife collectors- creating association between folks who have the common bond of knife collecting. It is a community of knife collectors.

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A Message to all Knife Clubs- Where’s your clubhouse?

meetingKnife Clubs abound. Many are city and community clubs started back 20 and 30 years ago. Some are simply fan clubs of particular brands, but either way, anytime knife folks come together across the table at the local steak house in the name of knife collecting- it is a good thing. Through these activities our hobby is strengthened.

With today’s busy lifestyles it is difficult to go to club meetings. I know, I have never attended a meeting of our local club and yet I am involved in “knife collecting” everyday. I’ve thought about it…been invited to it…but for one reason or another it hasn’t made my priorities to go. My suspicion is this is the case for the majority of collectors who are members of local clubs too.

“And yet, most all collectors spend time online participating in knife collecting.”

clubhouse

Knife Club Websites- little time and no money

In an effort to help maintain their sense of community and provide benefits to their members many of these local clubs have turned to the web to locate their clubhouses. Usually one of the club’s more geeky members sets up a website. Upgrading, updating and adding functionality to that site, while a desirable thing, oftentimes goes undone- it requires time and in most cases a cash investment from the club, like adding a forum or providing for its members to have their own email addresses, adding the ability for their members to upload knife pictures or a chat feature, even adding the functionality of embedding videos- these are luxury items and rarely seen on knife club websites.

How about a new FREE clubhouse?

To the knife clubs of America there is an answer. Yes, there is a place where they can have a highly functional community clubhouse- not just a static webpage- exclusively for their club. (more…)

Have the needs of knife collectors changed?

Many of us are members of different knife clubs and organizations- I am a dues-paying member in three myself. Knife organizations played a prominent role fostering our hobby for many years. They connected collectors, provided collectors a sense of belonging, provided news and organized knife shows, to name just a few examples of benefits offered to their membership.

There is an interesting editorial by Bruce Voyles in Knife Illustrated this month on the subject of knife organizations. It is entitled, “Are Knife Organizations Getting Left Behind?” and while he doesn’t delve too deeply into the subject, he does put it on the table for us to consider.

In it he recounts the history of how collector associations and clubs formed. Then he leads up to today and calls the leaders of these organizations to examine their mission and practices in order to appeal to today’s collectors.

And pertaining to these organizations meeting the needs of today’s collectors, he added-

“The future of knife organizations is only that of decline and eventual dissolution unless they discover some 21st-century relevance.”

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Now I must ask- “Did the needs of collectors change or were the organizations so busy working in the business of running the organization that they failed to work on the business- staying abreast of changes (technological advances/collector habits and lifestyles) that would benefit or negatively impact the organization?

Here is an interesting stat on this subject from a survey of the membership of iKnifeCollector.com, an online collector community.

member profiles- members of knife orgs

In case someone wants to scoff at this stat as skewed data because “only young people use the web and online collector communities, and they aren’t members of associations anyway,” well, the average age of the iKC membership is 39.55 years old and that’s close to about half life.

If that statement is true, on the other hand, and “young people aren’t members of knife organizations anyway,” there may be a clue for these orgs to get back on track, wouldn’t you say?

If  today’s organizations do attempt to appeal to this younger collector profile- some things are gonna have to change- that much I can say.

Stats can be interpreted differently. So in fairness, the above data either means the majority of today’s collectors don’t feel the need to join these orgs (for whatever reason) or the iKnifeCollector community has successfully reached the next generation of knife collectors who have yet to join the traditional knife organizations.

This brings us back to our original question- “Have the needs of knife collectors changed?”

What do you say?

The survey data represented in the chart is from iKC’s membership as of 9.02.09.