We sell knives at local gun shows. We regularly get asked why so many knives are made in China.
The same people who ask that question will then proceed to handle knives that we have on display, repeatedly snapping them open, sometimes doing that with nearly every knife we have on display. They then sneakily use their cell phones to take pictures of our knives so they can order it on line for a price we can’t meet. Often times they order from people who never actually carry the stock but rather have the purchase drop shipped.
We have an overhead that can run over 200 dollars on any given week. We have to purchase the products we sell before we can sell them. Further under the basic rules of capitalism for small businesses we have to sell our products for more than we buy them for. On top of that we have to pay our costs of doing business. One of the basics of capitalism is that we are supposed to profit from our labor and investment.
Over and above that we run our business with a level of ethics that are not held by everyone out there making lowest price internet sales offerings.
All our knives come from carefully vetted wholesalers. We do this to insure that the knives we sell actually come from the manufacturer whose label is on the box and that none of our knives come from counterfeiters.
The constant quest for the lowest price has driven local small business people out of business all across the country.
Now we have big box stores making demands on manufacturers that require them to continually cut costs. Given that rule of capitalism that says a manufacturer has to make a profit or go out of business the quest for the lowest price possible requires the out sourcing to China and the loss of American manufacturing jobs.
For some like us to sell made in USA knives people have to be willing to pay made in USA prices.
For what it is worth, I consider the knives made in China by CRKT, Spyderco and Kershaw to all be of high quality. If we did not feel that way we wouldn’t carry them. The same is true of those knives made in Japan or Taiwan along with the USA made knives we carry.
Like many who visit our tables on a near weekly basis we are knife lovers. I have knives I personally lust to own, but can’t afford to keep, sitting in front of me every show.
I grew up in small towns. I understand the need to patronize small businesses to keep America strong and small businesses a reality. To have made in USA products you have to buy them even if they cost more than the made in China alternatives.
We cannot afford to purchase products to sell that sit on our tables for months on end, the realities of small business capitalism require us to focus on products that sell so that we can replace them with other products that sell.
From The Truth About Knives: http://www.thetruthaboutknives.com/2015/09/why-are-so-many-knives-made-in-china/#more-18737
H. Clay Aalders
September 26, 2015
It is a question that we have asked in various ways over the years. There is the the quality angle. Sometimes from a purely price point of view. And we have examined the balance between cost, innovation, and place of manufacture. I was clearing out some old links I had emailed myself and found this excellent piece from EveryDay Commentary that I had forgotten I had come across. It is perhaps the most concise and understandable treatise I have read on the subject.
It is an older piece and I did a quick search to see if Chris had covered it before my tenure as Editor. Ben from CRKT actually mentioned it in the comment section of another post. Otherwise it fell through the cracks and it is a good time to remedy that.
I have to break the news to you: we are not the folks that keep gear companies afloat. No matter how much we spend we aren’t a large enough market to sustain a company any larger than say, Chris Reeve Knives. If that is your game then great, but for the KAI USAs and the Spydercos of the world to survive they need to produce gear for a wide range of audiences. Sure we all like the blank check, blue sky, cost no object production knife like the Jess Horn Spyderco or the Kershaw Tilt, but if we want these products to be made in the future, they have to be subsidized by the production and sale of the Tenacious and the Cryorespectively. This is not a purely gear industry issue, either. Studios wouldn’t survive on Oscar movies alone, they need the big budget explosion fests that we are treated to this time of year to pay the bills and make those movies possible.
He goes on to cover several categories of reasoning including production capacity, higher profit margins to support lower margin products, and the realities of modern distribution and consumer shopping patterns. In short, with few exceptions modern business requires at least a portion of a large companies blade line-up be imported.