In 1986 while living in Clarksville TN, a fellow Lieutenant and knife enthusiast suggested we take the wives to Knoxville TN for the weekend. He explained to me that among other things there was a knife show. I asked him what that was and he replied, like a gun show, except knives. The weekend came and we pointed the car east and headed for Knoxville and this knife show called The Blade Show. Now in my defense the Blade show had just started in 1982 and had just moved to Knoxville TN that year.
Looking back on the events that transpired always make me smile. That fact that my friend and I actually told our wives that we would probably only need a couple of hours at the show. Coupled with we had no idea about what we were about to get into. In my case, how this show would change my life. To this day when I hear someone tell me they are just going to stop by the show for an hour or so. I smile and think to myself “rookie.”
Since 1986 I have only missed one Blade Show. I was chosen to receive an all-expense paid year long trip to South Korea courtesy of Uncle Sam. Twenty-five those years I had a table at the Blade show. Combine all the other shows I have attended over the past 30 years I have come away with some observations that may come in handy when you attend a show.
Knives are sharp!
Generally custom knives are sharper than the factory knives readily available at Wal-Mart and gun shows. I know this to be true as I have handed out more than my fair share of band aids to those who did not show the custom knife the respect it deserves. Each year you will hear tales of those collectors who have met other collectors at the emergency room at the hospital near the Blade show. They were there for stitches to take care of that bite.
I write this to point out what most of you already know, knives can be sharp. What scared me more than anything was that little hand reaching through the group of grown-ups to grab a knife. For those of you who attend shows please make sure you do not allow your children to handle the knives without your supervision. Fortunately, I have never had a child cut at my table, but I’m sure it has happened.
Ask permission to handle a knife
Most of us on the business side of the table are happy to have you handle the knives. I would recommend you ask permission to handle the knife. Even with a sign on the table that reads “please do not handle without permission”, people walk right up and grab the knife. Don’t be that person. People have spent hours creating these knives, give them and their knives the respect they deserve.
The imaginary knife fight!
My tables usually had a variety of large fighters and Bowies. Over the years I have witnessed my share of imaginary knife fights in front of my table. The scenario is as follows, collector picks up a knife, takes a step back then starts swinging the knife. Eventually they stop and look at me. I smile and ask them “did you win.” They give me a nervous smile and set the knife down. The issue becomes if the collector gets carried away and accidently cuts or stabs another person. Nothing wrong with checking the handle ergonomics and balance. But keep the knife fighting to the minimum.
Flippers, twirlers and other knife fighters!
For those who enjoy Balisongs (butterfly knives) and/or practice any variant of martial art that utilizes knives. Do not practice your moves at the table. Given that you are a human are can be prone to mistakes none of us wants to see a knife you are manipulating go flying out of your hand. I have witnessed this happen and the knife landed on the table right on top of several other knives. Congratulations, you just bought a knife and paid to have others repaired by the maker. DO NOT BE THIS PERSON.
** The Space!
Most makers will have between 1 and 10 knives on their table which allows plenty of room to replace the knife on the table after you completed your inspection. On dealer’s table, they may have 40 – 60 knives on their table. Which means they are neatly organized in rows. Each knife gets its own space. Now for some reason there are those who pick up the knife and once done instead of putting it back where they picked it up from. Try to force it in between two other knives where there is not enough room. Sometimes scratching one or more knives in the process. If you come upon this scenario look for the opening large enough to put the knife back into.
** The Heavy Knife!
Let’s face it most knives don’t weigh a lot. But you would be amazed at the number of people who cannot control their muscles enough to put the knife gently back on the table. So instead they drop (yes, I said drop) the knife onto the table. If you are one of these people please learn how to handle a knife before attending a show. As there are those who will feel inclined to respond with harsh criticism.
** The Table!
During the time frame of the show the table belongs to the person(s) standing behind it. Do not put your briefcase, backpack, drink cup or other items on it. I actually had an individual put his backpack on top of my knives so he could get a better look at the knives on the table next to me. He seemed surprised when I picked up his backpack and threw it on the floor. I told him if you can’t carry it, leave it in your car. Yes, there are people that ignorant.
Keep the traffic moving!
** Road block
When you are at a busy show often you will run into friends and naturally conversations will occur. Try and be courteous of those around you. Do not block traffic, take the conversation to a less crowded part of the room.
**The 3 way!
I’m referring to those who feel necessary to walk 3 (or more) abreast. The only thing worse than the 3 way is the pond water 3 way…pond water doesn’t move, it just sits there and stagnates. Don’t be pond water, keep it moving.
** Shutter Bug!
Today most of us use the camera on our phone. However, there are those who feel inclined to bring a 35mm to the show. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t expect the show to stop so you can get just the right angle or lighting. Remember, to ask permission. Your photo shoot will possibly keep buyers away from the table.
Basically just be polite and try to remember as excited as you get about a knife or maker or seminar, there is someone else who gets just as excited. There is plenty of room for everyone, although it might not seem like it at times.