By K.L. Byrd
If you attend, a review of the following will pay dividends
The BLADE Show is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s the world’s largest knife show—period. It’s overwhelming, it’s massive and you need to pace yourself.
To begin with, inbound traffic is insane driving to the Cobb Galleria, so give yourself plenty of lead time. Wear comfortable shoes—the show hall floor is unforgiving—and also be sure to hydrate or you will cramp up while walking.
There are free show programs with floor maps and exhibitor lists in the show lobby. Get two because you will lose one. The lobby also has free copies of the BLADE Show preview issue of BLADE® that you’re reading right now. (Editor’s note: The show program is newer and thus more up to date, so use its maps, lists, schedules, etc., instead of the ones in this issue of BLADE.) Assorted exhibitors and others will have cloth bags inside for free. Get a couple and use them to tote stuff if you don’t bring a small pack. Carry a small pad and a pen—you will see much you will want to return to, so mark down what the knife or accessory is, how much, the table number, etc.
There’s inexpensive food all around close to the show inside the Cobb. Local eats spots are easily Uber’d to, and using Uber, etc., is worth it—drive your car and you won’t have a space when you return.
Yes, you must see The Pit, the sunken bar in the lobby of the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly host hotel, at least for a few hours. Again, pace yourself there—no one wants to be remembered as the sloppy drunk who dropped a thousand-dollar knife because he was hammered. Pit people are just as great as the show itself—wear your swag and favorite makers’ shirts and meet some new pals.
Cash is king. Bring as much as you can afford. Don’t screw up the mortgage but cash up before you come. The ATMs around the show get smashed fast and have a $300 limit per day anyway.
Take a ton of pictures. No one will believe you back home, and it will be sensory overload, so take photos to remember it all. Cell reception can be bad inside, so use text and times for meet ups. Soak it all in and let yourself enjoy being with thousands of likeminded folks for the weekend. However, there are some details all should know or get refreshed on as attendees, as well as table/booth holders. So, buckle up!
- An extra swipe of deodorant goes a long way. The show hall will get hot when full and the show lasts all day. Mints are a good idea as well.
- Introduce yourself to the maker at each table you visit.
- Never, I repeat, never set anything on a maker’s or dealer’s table.
- Always ask before touching a knife. Some makers are more intense about it than others, but it’s simple politeness to ask first.
- Remove your super cool large rings before handling knives. They leave marks, and the hand polish on the knife took hours if not days to apply.
- Don’t wipe the blade off on your shirt or your own cloth from home. The owner will do it—besides, he doesn’t know what’s on your shirt/cloth.
- Keep track of your kids—they should have been told not to touch any knives long beforehand.
- Be aware of placement when returning something to a table, and do it slowly and carefully. Don’t toss things back on a table!
- Don’t “wrist flick” a side opener—the knife doesn’t need it if it’s made correctly. Besides, it not only annoys the maker, it shows you don’t know what you’re doing.
- Same line of thought: don’t shave hair, cut a piece of paper, turn toward others with a live blade or be dumb enough to run your thumb along the edge to test it out. The owner doesn’t want to clean your blood off his knife.
- Never block a table to hold a conversation with someone else. Politely move aside.
There are more, of course, but these are some of the most important things to learn and know for attendees—and you see it every show.
- The biggest one is speak to everyone who comes by, even if it’s just
“good morning” or “good afternoon.” It matters!
- Don’t bring a book to the show and sit and read. That is a sale killer and rude as hell. You will see lots of makers/dealers doing it, then complain endlessly about how the show isn’t good, or the buyers just aren’t buying. As a maker/dealer, you are selling yourself as much as your knives. If your personality is bad, people will move on quickly. Engage, smile, be polite, draw them in, show your work like it’s the greatest thing ever done, explain it, sell it—and make money! Everything else aside, that’s why you really came. You pay for lodging, gas, airline tickets, food, table/booth space, etc.—make the most of it and sell you as much as your work.
At the Chad Nichols Damascus booth, I never sit* and never walk off. I engage every person who gets within five feet of me. The guy in the suit, the couple I know is just looking, the ones who can barely speak English, the guy in overalls with no top teeth—any one of them could walk up and drop a roll of cash that would choke a horse. If I screw that up, it’s not the show, the venue, the economy or the weather—it’s me.
STOP ’n SAY HI!
Enjoy the show and stop by to say hello at the Nichols Damascus Southern Circus booth. The booth looks like a KISS stage from the ’70s with six or seven makers/parts/materials guys all in one spot, including Chad Nichols/Nichols Damascus, knifemaker Steve Kelly/TiConnector Inc., Nottingham Tactical, American Metal Exchange, Matt Diskin, FiberTech-Carbon Fiber and more depending on the day—oh, and me.
See y’all there!
*If you must sit, bring padded stools if possible—it’s a lot less stress on your legs and back to rise from a stool rather than from a camping chair.
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