The Sporting Knife industry has an economic impact of $5.722 billion on the U.S. Economy, according to AKTI’s 2015 Sporting Knives and Tools Report. Knives and edged tools are used daily by a broad spectrum of people in the USA. From construction workers, carpet layers and a variety of tradespeople, to those needing to open their packages, cut an apple or fresh flowers, from EMT’s and police officers saving lives to those that use them recreationally for camping, hunting and boating, sport knives are an integral part of American life.
Knife Dealer Tips
There is no lack of demand for knives. Manufacturers and designers of sport knives need a way to reach the masses. Sure, they can go to trade shows or sell online, but the ideal situation for a designer or manufacturer is to sell through channels that have their own following and clientele such as an online knife dealer or a brick and mortar store.
Becoming a knife dealer is a multistep process. Here are just a few things you’ll want to consider.
- Research knife laws in your area.
- Do a market analysis.
- Decide what kind of knives you want to sell.
- Decide where will you store them.
- Decide what channel you will use to sell (online vs. a traditional store).
- Set the business up legally.
- Establish a solid relationship with knife manufacturers.
- Market your products.
In many respects, it’s similar to setting up most businesses, but there are a few considerations specific to the knife industry. The following looks at these key issues and offers some knife dealer tips and ideas on how best to handle them.
Check the Laws
Before making the first steps to becoming a knife dealer, it’s important to check the laws in your area and find out what kind of knives are allowed. As things currently stand, it’s a patchwork quilt of laws regulating knives around the country with many differences depending on your location. Organizations such as Knife Rights have information. Local and state laws also are accessible online in many places.
Decide What You Want to Sell
Most knife manufacturers offer a way to contact them about becoming a knife dealer. Krudo Knives, for example, offers this inquiry form on its site. Once you find the knives you’d like to sell, contact the manufacturer. Many will require you to agree to a minimum amount you will need to purchase to maintain your dealership.
You’ll also have to submit credit references as part of the application process. Knife manufacturers will only deal with established dealers or those who can show the proper financial backing and credit. Most knife makers also will only work with knife dealers who either have a brick and mortar store or an established website.
Once established, the relationship with suppliers is as important as the one with customers. Treat them that way. Always be reliable. Always have prompt, courteous replies to questions and inquiries. Always pay on time.
Decide on Your Store
Do you want to sell knives in a brick and mortar store or online? Brick and mortar stores typically deal in a range of knives, including fixed blades, folding knives, hunting, camping and angler knives, even knives used in everyday jobs. The types of knives carried in a brick and mortar store are mostly determined by the local customers and what they are looking for.
Online stores offer the opportunity to build a clientele with a variety of tastes without the necessity of the financial outlay that a traditional brick and mortar store requires. Your website is your store. You’ll want to make sure your payment processing is secure, your website is easy to navigate and you are marketing to your ideal customer.
Establishing Your Business
When you first create your business, it’s wise to create an LLC or corporation. This can protect you from liabilities and has tax advantages. The rules around creating a business are lengthy, but it’s critical to take the time to find out what business model works best for your plans. The IRS can provide plenty of information. Hiring an attorney or at least a legal service to help you navigate the process is also a good idea.
Marketing For Knife Dealers
As with any type of business, digital marketing is increasingly the way to go. You’ll want to build a community of loyal customers as well as identify potential new markets. A data-driven strategy that relies on a well-designed website and analytics can boost your profile. Through analytics you can determine:
- What parts of your site customers visit most often
- What pages on your site convert visitors into buyers at the highest rate
- What content on your site draws the most traffic
- How frequently people return to visit your site
That’s just a sample. Even if you have a brick and mortar site, it pays to establish a presence on the web. This also includes reaching out to customers via social media. Find places on social media such as Facebook and Twitter where people are interested in your knives gather and create a strong presence there.
The sport knife industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. There are many aspects to consider before pursuing a career as a knife dealer, but for those with a love of the industry, a willingness to learn a variety of skills, and who are good at the art of sales, becoming a dealer may be an ideal choice.
Once you are a dealer, you can specialize in exotic knives, customs or boutique brands, such as KRUDO Knives, or any other variety of knives your customers may desire. As a dealer, you are able to gain admittance into industry shows such as SHOT Show in Las Vegas where you get to meet the manufacturers, industry celebrities, designers and more. You can set up your own booth at a trade show, run online sales, have contests on social media, and have fun with your customers. There are many things to consider before delving into a knife dealership, but the largest question is do you really desire to do so or are you just looking for an item that will magically sell itself? Knives don’t work that way.
A knife dealership takes work, tenacity, imagination and the ability to sell not only the knives but yourself as well. These are simply a few of the things to take stock of if you want to become an entrepreneur such as a knife dealer. It’s an interesting business to be in if you approach it with passion, professionalism and a plan.