With the 2023 Blade Show over and done, here’s a look at some of the trends and developments we noticed while talking with exhibitors, members of the knife media, and visitors to the show, and a report on AKTI at the Blade Show.
DEMAND STILL HIGH: As the world digs out from the effects of the 2020 pandemic, the U.S. economy has slowed, and several key consumer price indexes show hints of inflation. But there are some bright spots in the economy, and it appears the knife industry may be among them. While official attendance numbers of Blade Show are not made public, it seemed the crowd inside the Cobb Galleria (Blade Show’s venue) was a similar size to before COVID. Another good sign was several informal conversations with manufacturers who noted solid to above-expected sales of their knives. And don’t discount the fact that several high-end custom knifemakers sold out of their knives before Saturday afternoon.
COUNTERFEITING CONTINUES: An issue that continues to rear its ugly head – and one that AKTI’s Industry Support Committee deals with on an ongoing basis – is the proliferation of fake websites that purport to sell knives. There were a number of discussions at Blade Show from both manufacturers and legitimate retailers who see their businesses harmed by fake websites. These scam sites often include a knife brand’s name in the URL and have prices that are hard to believe. Another tell? The address goes to a UPS store location or a big-box store. If you know of a knife-selling website that seems fraudulent, regardless of the brands sold on it, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BALICOMP GOES BIG: Here’s a true story: Benchmade Knives, one of the founding members of AKTI 25 years ago, is credited with bringing balisong (or butterfly) knives to the U.S. So it goes to reason that Benchmade – and other AKTI members like Spyderco – are promoters and supporters of balisong flipping. You don’t have to walk around Blade Show for more than, oh, two minutes before you’re likely to see a group of younger folks (primarily males) flipping balisongs. Flipping is such a big deal; there’s even a competition held at Blade Show. If you want to see the competition, check out this YouTube video.
PAYPAL IS AN ISSUE: As we look for a few more responses from members of the knife industry for AKTI’s social media survey, we’ve heard loud and clear that using PayPal to pay for knife purchases is fraught with danger. As with the censorship that knife companies endure on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, PayPal seems to deny the purchase of knives in random, haphazard order. “I had a large order denied on PayPal because the knife is being called a weapon,” said one dealer. “This was a completely legal knife and straightforward transaction, exactly like hundreds of others I’ve used PayPal for.” We also heard one report that some major credit card companies also deny legal knife purchases for unexplained reasons. If you’ve had a knife transaction rejected on PayPal or by a credit card company, please provide us with some details by sending an email to email@example.com.
KOOZIES AND SHAMMIES ARE HITS: This year, to celebrate our 25th anniversary, we handed out hundreds of shammy clothes adorned with the AKTI logo (perfect for cleaning a knife) and koozies with an AKTI logo and the phrase “Imagine Your Life Without a Knife.” We’d love to see either piece of swag in action, so if you have a frosty beverage in an AKTI koozie or you’re cleaning a knife with an AKTI shammy, please snap a photo and tag us on Instagram at @americanknifeandtool.
EDUCATING YOUTH IMPORTANT: It was very encouraging to see so many parents and grandparents bringing young people to the Blade Show. We were pleased to distribute several hundred “My First Knife” brochures and “Nathan’s Knife Kits” compliments of Columbia River Knife & Tool. If you are a scout leader or outside instructor, contact us for brochures.
AKTI MEMBERS LEAD THE WAY: Special 25th Anniversary Member signs were seen throughout the exhibit hall, and seven AKTI members won big Blade Show awards. Read about it here.
SPECIAL SHOUTOUT: A big thank you to all who attended AKTI’s 25th-anniversary celebration on Friday night. And a pair of special “Thank Yous” go out. One to Richard Rogers, his donated custom knife was the top money maker in our silent auction, and the other to James Kitchens, who bought the beautiful Richard Rogers masterpiece.