The Games Knife Sellers Play

Advice from an old knife collector: Don’t play the game unless you have a chance to win.

Buying knives is a game. I’m taking about the actual negotiation here. We love it when we win, that is, successfully coming to terms with a seller and getting the knife for our collection. But you have to understand it is a game- pure and simple. And most old timers are experts at it too.

The harsh truth, and one we must accept, is-

We will not be able to buy every knife we want.

I’m not saying this because it will be out of our price range either. No, I’ll telling you this, instead, because it is a game and we won’t win every time.

Today, I want to share with you advice to increase your chances of winning.

Let’s say you are approached by a knife owner about a specific knife. It is one you decide you want. And while the seller may act as if he’s really not interested in selling it- your intuition tells you he really is.

Remember- it is a game. He has interested you in the knife (either because he approached you, or had it on his list of “For Sale” knives). Eventually, he asks- “So, what’ll you give?” This point in the “Game” is a critical juncture. What you say and do at this moment will determine if you can come to terms and acquire this next trophy for your collection, or not. Understand too- they routinely use this approach and never even price the knife.

If you say a price, or make what appears to that seller as an offer, you will probably lose.

What you must do is this. You must establish he wants and is ready to sell. Otherwise, you’ll end up negotiating against yourself. So, instead of saying “Oh, I’ll give you X,” you must say, “Have you decided to sell that knife?” You’d expect him to say something to the effect of “Well, it depends on what you’ll give.”

Understand, if the owner of the knife hasn’t made the decision he wants to sell you are going to make an offer that simply “hangs in the air.” This happens when you throw out a number/price and he says, “Oh, I’m really not interested in selling that knife right now.”

If he pulls this- “Oh, I’ll think about it” or “I don’t think I really want to sell it”- all he will do then is use your offer to shop for a better price or try to get you to continue increasing your offer price- remember he originally approached or solicited you!

Instead, once you determine you are interested tell him-

“Have you decided to sell this knife? I’m not sure I’m a buyer, but if we were able to come to a fair price are you ready to sell it today?”

I know you may feel you are showing your hand at this point, but you must establish if he is ready to sell, otherwise you are wasting your time and will be standing there making offers while he plays the “Oh, I don’t really want to sell it.”

If he doesn’t acknowledge he’ll sell it if you can come to terms, then walk away. Tell him when he is ready to sell it to let you know.

Nothing is more frustrating than to allow a seller to get you excited about a knife only then to tell you he doesn’t want to sell it- when in actuality all he did was to get your best price and will then either shop your offer or try to get you to increase it.

Remember: Get a seller to commit he is interested in selling the knife and what he will take for it, before you try to buy it.

Published in: on November 22, 2009 at 9:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Think you are buying a knife soon, well think again. You may have already bought it.

217441_f520Many people not familiar with the sales process think the purchase is made at the cash register, or when clicking a button on the keyboard. Retailers know the purchase is made before then. And this fact is known among the Knife Industry too, and for a long time.


“Millions of dollars’ worth of cutlery is purchased everyday by people on the sidewalks looking in at window displays. Although the actual transaction takes place in the store, the decision to buy is made standing on the street.”                                                  The Cutlery Journal, December 1931

While most of us no longer walk down Main Street, we may, however, drive through town while on our way to check out knives at the Bass Pro Shop or WalMart .

So, is the decision to buy made at the point we are walking up and down the isles looking over their knives?

In some cases, yes, but most of the time we made the decision even before that point. Knife companies know we decide to buy very early in the sales process, and sometimes at the point we first see a knife. Because of this, they place ads and messages everywhere we are sure to see them. We know about ads in magazines and on websites, but what about the ones on the drive over to the store?

Here’s one of my all time favorites. And while it isn’t for a knife we carry or collector, it is one we regularly use.



Henckels, the knife company advertising along the roadway, was born on June 13, 1731, when Peter Henckels registered the Gemini twin (Zwilling) with the Cutlers’s Guild in Solingen. 278 years later the knife manufacturer from Germany is a global player.

Editors note: This photo was not altered by CNJ. We have contacted the US division of Henckels to verify the billboard’s legitimacy and are waiting for a response from their corporate headquarters in Germany, however, based on our research to date, we believe it to be authentic.


Buying knives- from the buyer’s perspective

Weekend Edition

ecommerce_shopping_cart_buy_computer_purchaseOK, I know not everyone is “tech savvy,” but come on…buying knives isn’t only done in person anymore.

Today, most knife dealers and shops are set up to do business electronically. In fact, many are set up for a buyer to “click and buy.” For sellers it is easy money and speeds up the sales cycle allowing them to make sales with less of their time invested in the transaction; for the buyer, it is quick and easy.


Last week I had two non-buyer friendly buying attempts. In one case, I followed through and put the energy into it anyway and bought the knife, but the second one- I never did.

From a buyer’s perspective there are two issues to buying online or long distance- our comfort level with the dealer/seller and the ease of the transaction.

I know we are hesitant to buy when we can’t “see” the knife but there are dealers and other sellers who have built a trustworthy reputation where we are OK buying without seeing the knife first. Also, some dealers are “set-up” to sell online- true e-commerce, where the buyer can “click and buy” right then and there.


I found a knife online. I was comfortable with the seller, his description, and the price. His website was well done and provided me ample photos. I decided to buy it. Then, instead of being able to “click and buy,” I was instructed to contact the seller via email (Frustration #1). The next day I get an email back from the seller instructing me to call him (Frustration #2).

mcAs well done as this website was, I was disappointed he didn’t have it set up to complete the purchase online. I didn’t want to have to call the dealer. So, I emailed the seller back to ask if he was set up to accept online payments. The seller emailed me back later to say, he wasn’t set up for online payments and for me to please call (Frustration #3).

I emailed him back to ask if he accepted credit cards. He replied that he did (why didn’t he tell me that in his earlier email?). So, I asked him if I could email my cc number (and any additional info he needed). He agreed and the rest of the transaction went smoothly. I got the knife in a few days later and it was just as expected and I am happy.


stoneage_reconst_rec300webThe second situation was more difficult. A dealer had a particular knife I was interested in. A friend sent me the dealer’s email address, so I shot him a message asking if he still had the knife, and if so, would he send me a couple of photos and a brief description.

A couple of days later, I get an email back from the dealer’s wife-

“My husband does have the knife. We do not have any photos but if you are in the area we can arrange for you to see it. Please call XXX-XXX-XXXX for a price and  description. My husband does not use the computer.”

Tell me I’m out of line here

I know I may be more of a geek than most folks (I’ll accept that), but my gracious, it would seem to me someone in business today would have made himself learn certain skills to help sell knives.

….In the area…what area? This is the worldwide web, ya know. And I am not going to drive however many hundreds of miles just to see a knife (well, 99.9% of the time anyway) Heck, my dad is 80 years old and gets online everyday. He may not know how to get a picture into the computer, but if it would help him make money, he’d learn. 

Wrapping up-

Tell me I”m out of line here and I’ll back down. Knife buyers are not just down the street anymore;  in fact, we’re online and feel it is reasonable to expect knife sellers to be too, and I would have expected a dealer to have already bought and learned to use a computer and digital camera.

Published in: on December 13, 2008 at 6:21 pm  Comments (2)  
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Knife Weekend Recap

Weekend Edition

Parker's Show Nov. 2008

Parker's Knife Show Nov. 2008

If you have been following CNJ the last few days, you know I have been at Parker’s Knife Show. 

I was able to spend Wednesday through mid-day Saturday “playing” with knives (that is the way my wife looks at it anyway).

I made my rounds and talked with lots of folks about a wide range of knife related topics.

Had my first opportunity to tour the National Knife Collectors Associaton’s Knife Museum while I was there too. Got some good footage of the museum I’ll be adding to the CNJ YouTube Channel later this week. If you haven’t toured the museum yet, you gotta go. 

From my conversations the Knife Show attendance and dealer sales did very well, despite the down economy. Lower gas prices helped the turnout and all the tables were sold and packed with dealers displaying their knives.

I’ll work up my findings and some additional observations for posting this week.