Work: Store Update

I really wanted to get our store finished before Cyber Monday hit. No such luck. Despite our bet efforts we didn’t quite make it. But I’m really excited about our progress!

We pushed our counters up closer to the door to make a more normal size store. This makes the area feel less intimidating and it keeps customers in the right area (believe me- if you don’t corral them they wander off to restricted areas and grope the products without shame).

We also started building out more shelves. There will  be about five times as much storage space  in the store once we’re done (we basically turned two thirds of it into a “classy” warehouse). Figuring the design took a long time and then building the shelves is taking even longer. I want to give a shout out to everyone at work who helped on this- I couldn’t have done it without you guys!

We’ve made some more progress that I will post in the upcoming days. I’m afraid that actually finishing the store will have to wait until there is a holiday lull. Or, possibly until next year. I hate waiting.

Posted November 29th, 2010

And then Cam was gone (?)

The first Monday after Thanksgiving has been dubbed “Cyber Monday.” It’s the day that people typically start their online shopping. It’s real people. It’s very real. I just barley survived it. Sadly this marks the potion of the holiday season where the work is endless, the customer are relentless and it’s a mad race against the count down clock of Holiday doom. I love it and I hate it. Overall it was an amazing day for our company in many ways.

In any event, I typically disappear for about a month while we shovel our way through endless holiday orders. Time is sparse (ha, like it wasn’t before) but this year I’m determined to keep my head above the water. So far I haven’t slept at work, I haven’t gotten sick, we have our Christmas lights hung, the tree is up, our shopping is done and I’m cautiously optimistic that we may survive.  Maybe this will be the year that December doesn’t destroy me. Fingers crossed!

Posted November 29th, 2010

Other Fun Stuff…

While I was in Disney Land I found this sweet  picture of Donald Duck as Boba Fett. Some things are just made to go together. Chocolate and peanut butter, milk and cookies and Star Wars and Disney. Anyone familiar with my hobbies will know that I collect “art” (for lack of a better word). The store at Disney Land wanted too much for the print so I got it on eBay and then had it re-framed. I have nowhere to put it, but I thought I should share the awesomeness.

A couple of months ago  I decided I should start reading again. It had been nearly a year since I polished off any books (the Twilight series was the last thing I read).  I decided to to start with  William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride.” I enjoyed the book. It fleshed out a lot of areas I felt the movie skimped on. Goldman’s humor is hit and miss, but works for the most part. The story is not quite the fairy tale the movie makes it out to be. Worth a read for sure.

The second book I read was Orson Scott Card’s “Pastwatch.” I’d had my eye on this book for a couple of years, but had never made the time. It’s a very well written account of what is essentially an alternate history. Some parts of the book are very intellectually disturbing and I enjoyed the way Card challenges our current complacency with acts of horror buried in the past. Another book I’d recommend (I generally enjoy Card’s work).

I’m current reading Tony Hsieh’s book “Delivery Happiness.” It’s an entertaining a history of his involvement with Zappos and the the creation of their well regarded business culture. So far so good.

I’ve also got my eye on a couple more business books but with the holidays coming up I’m afraid my reading time will be pretty limited. Still, I’m going to try to find time to squeeze in something. I had forgotten how much fun reading can be.

Posted November 20th, 2010

Physical Store Required

The year was 2003. We had been running BladePlay for a few months and we wanted to get into some higher end cutlery. Our first two picks were Benchmade and Kershaw. We called them both and one of their first questions was, “Do you have a physical store?” We didn’t, and so our efforts were temporarily stonewalled. Later that year we moved from my home into our first warehouse in Orem, UT.

One of the first phone calls from the warehouse was to Benchmade. “Yes, we have a store.” The warehouse was 900 square feet, about 100 of which was a small front office. That office was “the store.”  Benchmade sales were brisk and things were going well.  And then one day our Benchmade rep, Campbell, called us. “Hey! I’m about fifteen minutes from your store.”

Fate was on our side that day. We had a customer in the warehouse at that very moment (Vaughn). With his help we literally carried the warehouse shelving into the front office and set up a “store.” We threw a desk in the corner and Jim manned the phone. “Browse!” I commanded Vaughn as Campbell pulled up.  As I opened the door to welcome Campbell the phone rang and Jim took the call. Campbell eyed our setup with warranted suspicion. There was a tense moment and then he finally shrugged. The store was good enough.

So why a store? Lost of brand name companies require that you have a physical (brick and mortar) store in order to carry their product line. Campbell explained that, in Benchmade’s case, it was a mechanism to ensure brand integrity. Benchmade doesn’t want people selling their knives out of a garage. Additionally, if you have a store it gives you a certain credibility. I can certainly see that angle. As an established knife retailer I’ve actually come to appreciate this requirement. It’s a barrier to entry. One layer of protection for those of us in the business already. But the walls are coming down.

Not all brands care if you have  a store. Many are readily available through distribution networks or from the manufacturer directly. And with Internet shopping become such  a dominant force many companies that “require” a storefront don’t really check anymore. Part of me wishes they would. I enjoy an equal playing field. A guy selling out of this garage doesn’t have the overhead of a guy who runs a full on store (my overhead is nearly $4000 a day). Still, despite the drawbacks of a store, they are really cool. Which brings me to our new store.

 We moved to our current location last July (2009- you can see the store we threw together here if you’d like). It wasn’t until this past week week (November 2010) that we decided to finally get things finished up. A store gives you power. It gives you legitimacy. It gives you bragging rights. It’s a lot of work, but I really think when we’re finished it’s going to be beautiful. The design came together pretty well. Once it’s finished I’ll be sure to post more pictures (some before and after).

I was reading “Delivering Happiness” the other day. I smiled when Tony was explaining how shoe manufactures required companies to have a physical store. Zappos ended up buying a local shoe business so they could carry the brands they needed. Our store has been a great tool. But when we allowed it to fall into disrepair it didn’t seem to matter (except to our egos). Maybe we’ve outgrown the need for a store (our brand has become reasonably well respected), but we’re going to have one! Stay tuned.

Box Cars & Drive in Movies

You can read more about the kid’s Box Car Drive in adventure on Fran’s Blog (and see more pictures too).  Fran did a great job on these little cars. I hope one day our kids realize how lucky they were/are to have their mom. I did help paint the cars after the kids went to bed. The kids are kind of lucky to have me too.

Posted November 14, 2010

A Quick Update for the Sake of Mankind

Make no mistake, this blog is for me. I have previously mentioned that I’m using WordPress as a format to write a book. Once in awhile I will make a public post, but that’s not my primary focus right now.

Most of the posts on the website are private, as they contain somewhat sensitive business information. My goal is to literally write about my business experiences as they occur. Hopefully, one day… one sunny happy day, I can compile all of my adventures into an enjoyable (and helpful) book.

In the future I may post excepts from these private posts or allow people to access them with a password. And I will sometimes post something business related that I don’t consider private or feel would harm my business.

So… where have I been? Oh man. What a story that is. Let’s just say I’ve been very busy with my businesses. When I started the first one back in 2002 I had no idea that it would become a never ending rollercoaster filled with thrills, despair, joy, pain and indescribable mix of feelings that often leaves me in a state that defies description.

What do I do? Knives. Survival gear. Emergency preparation. Mostly Knives. I operate BladeHQ, BladePlay, EmergencyMatters and other online ecommerce sites. We have some really cool stuff. If you like knives start here: Benchmade Knives, Microtech Knives, Protech Knives, Boker Knives and Tops Knives

 We have such amazing plans… I wish I could talk more about them. Our goal is simple: become the best knife company in the world. Next year- 2011. That’s when we’ll start running. All this time, the last seven years, that was the framework. That was us crouching in the perfect position to begin our sprint. When the the shot is fired we will start running, we won’t stop and we will win.

The Cornbelly Stalker

Right before Disney Land we participated in our annual tradition of going to ConrBelly’s . We hit up this Thanksgiving Point attraction every October with a group of our friends.

Our agenda is eerily similar each year. Run around  for a bit, go through the “no left turn” mazes, pretend we’re going to play dodge ball, go through the corn maze, start throwing corn at each other, make bad corn jokes/puns (it’s a salt and buttery on the ears), give up and cheat our way out of the maze, go on a hay ride, play on the slides, and then curl up in the fetal position.

I confess that sometimes it seems like going will get old, but once I get there I have a great time. Sure, there’s some stalking and the conversation gets a bit corny. And someone always tries to cob a feel in the maize, but the corn jokes get butter and butter each ear. Good friends and corn… that’s all a man really needs to be happy. Shucks.

Posted November 09, 2010