Blade Show 2022 Director Alicia Newton – The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 316)
Alicia Newton, show director for Blade Show, joins Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco on episode 316 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
Newton has over 20 year experience in managing and executing successful events with targeted audiences. She also has been the Director of Blade Show since 2010 and has steered it through rough waters the past few years.
With over 900 exhibitors from more than 25 countries, Blade Show (Atlanta) is the world’s largest knife show. The show is 40 years old and is produced by Blade Magazine and Caribou Media Group. Globally-recognized manufacturers and legendary makers gather under one roof brining the largest selection of blades, knives and outdoor gear in the world.
Blade Show also features seminars, services and Blade University classes. There are also Blade Sports cutting competition, Balisong Flipping Championships, knife sharpening, collecting seminars, self-defense classes and more.
You can find Blade Show 2022 online. In addition to the original show in Atlanta (June 3-5), the Blade Show brand also includes Blade Show West in Salt Lake City, Oct. 7-8, 2022, and Blade Show Texas in Ft. Worth, March 17-18, 2023.Blade Show 2022 Director Alicia Newton joins The Knife Junkie on #Podcast Episode 316 to talk about the Atlanta show, the world's largest knife show, coming up June 3-5, 2022. Click To Tweet
Blade Show 2022 Director Alicia Newton
Welcome to the Night Junkie podcast.
Your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting.
Here's your host Bob the knife junkie, DeMarco.
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast.
I'm Bob DeMarco.
On this edition of the show, I'm speaking with someone who brings great joy to knife junkies.
Each year, June after June, Alicia Newton is the Blade show director, and as such is largely responsible for your experience on your annual knife pilgrimage and from what I've seen, she's doing a bang up job, but I have no idea how and I mean, as someone who does a lot
of reaching out and contacting the type.
That's a lot of knife makers and artisans to wrangle, especially for one weekend.
So we'll meet Alicia and find out how she does it.
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Alicia, welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast.
Thanks so much for having me.
Oh it's my pleasure I I've been wanting to talk to you now for two years and then two years ago things got in the way.
Last year I was busy trying to get myself to blade.
So finally we get a chance to to catch up on and and talk.
And as I was sitting looking at the Blade Show website it occurred to me you're an event planner by by occupation and you could be planning a lot of different events.
You're planning blade show and you've done so for five years now I think.
And actually, since 2000 and ten 2010. Oh my gosh, what?
Yeah, I don't know what I was reading.
I thought I saw 2018 2010. OK so 12 years, that's that's even more amazing.
But you must have learned something about enthusiast communities in doing this before I get into knives and blade show in particular.
What is it like planning such a giant event for a group of individuals who are rabid?
About the given topic.
You know it's actually.
This was kind of handed to me.
Like I said back in 2010 and.
For the company that I was with before we moved over to new ownership, you know we ran a host of events upwards of 24 events for enthusiasts of all kinds, but I can say by far the blaze show was definitely the most passionate.
So it did kind of fall into my lap.
But it's actually been amazing to watch it grow.
You know, again, from 2010 till 2022. You know I've seen this show with just in a couple halls.
Go to what it is now.
You know, I think in 2020 you mentioned that you know we were earmarked to do this in 2020, and then nothing happened in 2020. But sadly, you know 2020 was on pace to probably be just amazing record blowing, mind blowing.
In terms of attendance and everything else, and then we don't all need to go backwards to a negative space, but so you know, being able to just watch the knife journey, the knife community, all the things that have come and gone over the years and the trends and the new people and just the passion
And you know, you spoke about the passion earlier last year was the first time we had people actually line up on a Wednesday for a show that opens on.
Friday so it's it's a privilege.
It's a blessing.
It's an honor to be a part of something that people love so much.
I did notice a lot of people lined up, but that was my first Blade show in 2021 was my first time and I I was a little shocked by the throng of people.
I mean, I knew there going to be a lot of people, but I showed up and I was like man, this is like a rock concert.
What what have you?
What have you noticed it?
What do you think it is about?
Knives that has has this group?
So as you mentioned, enthusiastic, rabid or passionate, that's the word you use.
I think more than anything it there's two elements to it.
There's the custom element, so it's the idea of owning something that nobody else has because you have so many things.
Like I said with the makers that they make custom knives, they're one of a kind, but then I think even more so you have.
A lot of guys that are now being accepted in the industry that maybe don't make an exact knife, but they make EDC things.
Or you know Jared W Gear and I could go on and on about things that are unique and different that those types of guys bring to the table.
You also have the opportunity that a lot of these guys their books are closed.
You can't get a knife from them.
So this is the one time that you have a chance that if you can get to their table first, you know you don't have to put the order in.
You get the opportunity to get that product first from them before anybody else.
And I think finally we have knife makers.
That are really just pushing everything to the, you know, pushing the envelope when it comes to making a knife, trying so many things and when you see that that's I think.
Also what's making people so excited about the opportunity to be the first one to get one of those because it's something new that maybe no one has done before.
I was there last year.
I was, uh.
Tickled to see people bolting for the demco table.
Uh both days to get a he made a they made a bunch of customs that you just pretty much can't get and then they also had the the release of the ad 20.5 so people charge that table and I got to say it.
It made me it.
It made me happy.
You know it, it's because I don't know.
It is a very positive environment and for someone like me I have a. I have a passion for all knives.
I love historical knives.
I I love you know, ethnographic weapons.
I love modern EDC stuff.
You know everything and you go into that.
Those two halls at Blade show, especially the main room.
Where there is such incredible variety, uh, you know, I walked out with a tomahawk and several.
You know, a lot of great stuff, but there were also.
People who had old Randalls displayed an old slip joints and and really, it's very granular.
Any any aspect of knife collecting you can really go down the the hole there?
How do you curate?
And choose who's there and and how do you?
How does that work?
You know that's a great question and the blade show.
Technically this will be our 41st year with a star since we since we missed 2020, but.
You know there is so much legacy that exists with that show a legacy that's meant to be celebrated, and I think you just brought up a really awesome point is that you do see so many.
You know, knives that have been around and there's so much history to them and etcetera.
But then you also get the guys that are, you know, up and coming and and the guys that are hitting the ground running and are those are the guys again that are pushing the envelope?
What can we do?
What can we do different and knife making that hasn't been done yet?
Always paying homage or respect to the guys that that started this industry and in terms of really how we curated?
I mean we have guys that have been tending the blaze shows since it first started in.
I mean that list unfortunately is getting smaller, but you know we have really taken upon ourselves over the last couple of years to really vet the rest of the exhibitors that come in.
You know, before anybody was allowed in and, and not saying that we don't welcome everyone.
But we all know there's a lot of flea market knives out of there.
And you know, being the blade show and being the blade magazine we want to make sure that we do have the best product.
The most representative product and not junk or exhibitors that maybe are not.
You know the most up and up if you will.
That's funny you say that because that's not something I noticed.
All I noticed was that everything was amazing, that I could stop at any table.
But now that you mentioned it, yeah there was no.
There were no gas station knives as people like to call them there was, there was none of that.
Everything was 100% serious.
Whether it's discovering some maker, who's toiling in obscurity and and and buying one of their knives.
And treasuring it or or going up to the micro tech you know not table the micro tech.
I don't know subcommunity over there and and the bigger the bigger displayers I mean.
Obviously the big companies are are going to are going to be going in there for knife makers for.
You know, custom knife makers and smaller makers.
What's it like for them to become a part of blade show?
Do they have to apply?
Do they just have to buy a table?
How does that work?
Usually if you're brand new again like we'll send you a request once you send us a request for the contract, we don't put the contract on the on the website anymore for that very purpose, so they send us and really in terms of vetting it's, we would never for blade show.
And it's more about just making sure like you truly are a knife maker.
It doesn't have to be your full time job, but we just want to make sure you are in fact making knives or you have a knife related material.
You know, we've seen tons of grinding companies come up in the last couple years.
Materials for knife products, a lot of those companies are really.
Becoming more relevant in the industry and so really after we kind of vet to just make sure again that you are in fact a knife maker.
You have a legit knife product or a knife relevant product.
Then the contract process begins really but we we tried very much not to turn someone away again.
Trust me we get the gutter companies.
We get the you know.
And popcorn companies weekend.
You know the roofing companies.
We get all those type of guys too.
And obviously we're never going to do that.
You know, in terms of the new guys too, we once we get them on board, obviously they have a lot of questions too, so we try to help them a little bit in terms of you know guys, you're going to have to do more than just show up with some knives.
You know you're you're basically, we look at the blade show as the Super Bowl if you will.
So if you're a knife maker and you haven't really gone to even the regular season, or let's say that AOC NFC Championships and you're coming straight to the Super Bowl, then you really are going to have to show up.
Because you're competing with your products against 900 plus other exhibitors, so you really need to make sure you put your best foot forward.
Yeah, and at any given moment you can walk by any, even the the greatest of tables the most together, and you know, branded or however you want to put it.
And and there are moments of lag time, you know where where people aren't at that place and.
Sometimes you wonder at at you know or or.
Anyway, it being my first event like are people gonna go by that guy.
That poor guy and then you come by later and there's a crowd and and things seem to fluctuate so that that's no.
No indication of quality or anything like that, but what is amazing to me are how many how many knife makers like really excellent legitimate knife makers there are out there just in that that sort of pasture of tables where where it's tables and not booths.
And it's just maker after maker it's.
It's staggering how many people are doing this great work.
It really is, and I think there's so many things that attribute that to.
I think you know, forged of fire has created.
Obviously a huge uptick.
Probably in guys that have started making knives, and you know, there are definitely a large percentage of guys that don't do this with full time.
You know they do this as a hobby and.
And we we love all of them, whether you're full-time or hobbyist but.
You know, I think that that's been a huge help.
Plus I think there's just this amazing sharing of knowledge in this community, and I use the word community because I think that really is the best way to describe it.
This is a community, and even though the person at table 21 B is competing for the same dollars as the person at 21 C. You know, at the end of the day, this is still a community, and the fact that everyone's worth, I'm sorry, not worth but willing to share information that continues to help this
industry grow, and bringing up, you know, young knife makers.
You know, we start to see 17 and 18 year olds and we have a couple of those at the show this year.
And that's super exciting.
It is amazing to see and and I also like.
I also appreciate the popularity and the sort of normalizing that forged in fire has brought kind of to the mainstream and now more and more.
I mean I have a theory that that the love of knives goes all the way.
You know down to our genes.
It was our earliest tool and and and the and you know that in fire was how we survived from the from the earliest of of our history.
And so to me, I believe that this love is is in all of us, maybe dormant in some, but but you get them in that environment and and kind of normalize it.
And people are allowed to like it.
You know what I'm saying?
You're talking about Blade magazine.
Obviously Blade Show was born out of Blade Magazine.
Tell me a little bit about that and and about the magazine itself.
What differentiates blade?
There seems to be something, but what different differentiates Blade?
From the rest of the knife magazines.
Well, and I will.
I will be straight up honest.
I obviously work hand in hand with the team from the Blade magazine I think.
And you are correct, the blade shows started back in, you know 1982. And it obviously was created because of the Blade magazine and.
As far as Blade Magazine itself, I think the one thing that.
Really helps it separate it from everything else is.
Not only the content and I I never want to say anything else about any competitors or anything like that because everybody's doing their own thing.
But what Blade Magazine has brought to the table is, you know the Blade Magazine Hall of Fame, the Blade magazine custom awards, the Blade Magazine knife of the Year awards, and those things have become, you know, highly coveted over the years.
And it's an honor to receive one of those things, so not even just the content.
Itself, and I think another thing you know.
Steve Shackleford has been at the home of that magazine for 30 plus years.
I mean, he is a vault of information way more than I could ever be, and it's probably watched this industry evolve over the years.
More than most of us have.
So you know, when you have that legacy at your fingertips, that really lends itself as well to the magazine.
And I think it's become respected in the industry when people see the name blade.
It just comes with oh wow, that's probably going to be.
A great magazine or that's going to be a great show.
Well, you you also said it.
I thought pretty well when you read all the other magazines they're doing their thing and and there are niche magazines.
Blade seems to be the final voice that the right term.
The final word, you know.
That you can open up blade and see something about and and, uh, you know a classic maker and then you can see the newest OE manufactured young American designer.
You know all in the same pages, all in the same magazine, which to me makes it kind of the overall.
I don't know how to put it, but maybe the overall authority, uh, and then you go to the blade show itself and you see, well, yeah, that's that's being borne out in real time here because you can get anything under the sun that's got a blade on it.
Right, and I think the one thing that says Blade show probably apart from any other show too, is the international.
I mean we are so excited for 2022 to welcome back our international friends.
I mean we haven't seen most of these guys since 2019, so we are over the moon.
Excited to welcome these guys back to see friendly faces.
I know so many of these guys are excited to be back too.
So I think that's another element you know.
We have all 26 countries represented that will be at blade show, and that's a big number.
That's a lot of countries.
Yeah, that's that's.
Man, I didn't.
I don't even I couldn't even begin.
You know, past five what?
What those other countries might be?
Totally rattled them off, but it would take me longer than the podcast, so so in terms of the trends you you said you've seen a lot of trends coming and going and that kind of that ebb and flow of that.
What do you see right now as the predominant?
Trends that drive people A to to to the blade show, and what what are people asking for?
You know, that's that is always the loaded question, and it's tough for me to answer that because you know, we just finished Blade show Texas and you know it was interesting to.
Ask the guys.
Kind of you know a same thing.
These guys spent the night they ran into the room.
The first thing and I just was kind of asking them, you know.
What are you?
What are you running into and?
And I I won't go into that, but I I don't know so much that it's trans, but it's who I go back to.
Who's trying something different?
Who's pushing the envelope?
Who's you know using different technology?
And then quite honestly, some of the trends.
I don't know if it's even the word trends is correct, but who's really done a great job of fostering their own fan group their own group of followers?
Their own private group that you know?
You may not make the greatest knife.
But you've done a great job of fostering your community, and everybody wants to feel a part of that, and those are also a lot of the guys that you see people running into.
They've fostered an amazing community, and that's who these guys are running into see and get a product from.
That is so true in terms of.
I'm sure it's happened with all of us where you know I'm thinking of one person in particular who I will not name, and I actually really like his work, but I'm shocked at what people are willing to pay for it and and it's that there's a mystique around this guy and there is a, you know, and that's
part of it.
You know that pride of ownership you're talking about before with getting a custom knife?
That's part of it.
It's like, Oh well, I know this guy, you know, and you know he doesn't know.
A lot of people, but I I'm in with him and I. Have one of his knives and exactly and and that's you know that's so much what it is.
You know we just did a great.
Project with Ernie Emerson and you know he does a Big Lottery in Atlanta and his he you know his.
His lotteries are very, very big.
They're very successful and it was super awesome to work with him on this project.
You know on a blade show exclusive for a knife that he brought back out of retirement, but yet he took the time to.
You know hand grind each one hand, sign each one and you know his.
You know we just did 25 knives but they sold in 24 hours because.
Again, you have an Ernie Emerson.
He's behind it, but he also put a lot of time in it and made it special.
And those guys that are Ernie Emerson fans pretty much whatever he touches.
They want to part of.
I I saw his video he put it.
I'm a huge Ernest Emerson fan and I love him and his designs.
I think he's a great guy and I love his designs.
Always have and so.
But I have no customs.
I have no none of the high end Emerson stuff and much to my dismay, I saw him put out the video that it's the CC 13, which is probably my all time favorite all around.
Emerson design it says, I think it was his first Bowie.
Maybe he's done a lot of bowies.
But uh, that one hmm?
And when I saw that it, it's the the Blade show exclusive, uh, it was really exciting because I know every year there are certain companies that you can expect to do the exclusive and that is also cool because people who collect those can mark time and remember their times each year of Late Show
But this exclusive special run was made me especially envious.
I I can't say enough great things about Ernie.
He has been a long time supporter fan of the Blade Show and he was just he was super honored to work on this with us and we're thinking, know we're super honored to work with you on this, so there was a lot of honor going around, but it was a great, you know, it was a great product and and a great
project to work on with him on that so you know those are.
Those are other kind of perks if you will of my job.
It's just the opportunity to just work with amazing people.
This really is just a great community of people, and they're just so passionate about what they do and that passion, so infectious and you just want to be a part of it.
I mean, you you use the word community, the word community gets used a lot for the knife world and I tend to be a little bit guarded in my language.
Sometimes I'm sure Jim is laughing backstage, but I the word community, I don't say lightly.
I don't use that term in particular lightly, but I I think in the knife community and the reason I said that is because I've never, you know.
Until last year I had never met anyone in shaking their hand in person, you know?
So how can it be a community if I've never?
But this is this is modernity and but the knife community is, you know with.
With very few exceptions, just so full of respect and and mutual admiration and all that and.
You know, I think it's I think it really deserves the term, but we were talking about, uh, Ernest Emerson for a second and something that he really embodies, something that I will always remember him for is innovation.
You know, innovating the wave feature quite by accident, but he saw he saw how the accident was valuable.
And and you know, capitalized on it Blade show is something you know we've been.
We cover it on this show.
You know we have for three years now and.
The thing that always strikes me are the awards and.
The emphasis on innovation, even in the even in the awards that are not overtly about innovation.
You see this spirit of newness and.
In the awards, tell me a little bit about how those come, how those are decided on, and how the awards work, so I can't reveal all the secrets because.
But there are obviously very for both the factory and the custom awards.
There is a very.
What's the best word?
Oh gosh, of course, now is when obviously well versed in the world of knife making, but also educated about knives and a panel of judges that are more than experienced probably have more experience with with all their years combined than you and I are old together in terms of age, so.
And then there's you know, I have never sat in the room just because obviously I have other things to do.
But I know for a fact that a one of our exhibitors in Texas was asked to help judge, and he had said what an honor it was to be in that room and really watch.
Everything that goes into the decision for the knives that have won and he was blown away.
So again, having never been in the room just from a timing standpoint of me not having the time to be in there.
It's not just you know a couple guys milling around and there's a lot of process that goes into it.
That and everybody that looks at these awards chooses these awards.
And I believe we have.
13 for the factory side and about 20. 22 or so for the custom side, so and do they do the makers or manufacturers submit a knife for consideration?
Or do you troll around in?
Be impossible to do.
They are sent information in advance matter of fact, they just received it this week.
Everything is done on site though, so on Friday all those that wish to enter the custom awards.
They bring their knives to a room.
They choose the category that they wish to enter their knife in.
And then for the factory rewards, those knives are all.
If you've been to the blade show, there's a huge knife of the year display award in the middle of the lobby and the factory guys.
Same thing they go and put their knives on display in there and then they're judged accordingly for those guys that choose to enter their knives.
What, uh, what brought about, uh, the Texas and the Blade Show West shows you mentioned those just earlier.
And while we're while we're talking about these awards, I'm wondering.
Well, are there awards for those shows too?
And then and then it just got me wondering, how did those come about?
There must be so much demand that we got to stick one in the middle of the country and one on the other end.
Well, so Blade show was we launched in 2018. There used to be a blade show back in the early 2000s.
When once I kind of was handed Blade show, I did stop that one in 2010. Simply from a standpoint of it, you know there didn't seem to be any return on the investment there, so we kind of tabled it for a year and a couple obviously several years.
And meanwhile Blade Shelana was really growing and then 2018 presented that opportunity where.
We really started to realize that when we took a a quick look at the demographics of people attending Blade show.
Even though it's as large as it is, there's still a huge population that does not come from the Pacific Northwest from the West Coast.
From any of that area, and for obvious reasons, I mean it's very expensive.
You know to fly to stay at a hotel to do all those things.
So it made sense for us to.
Move and do an event.
And Long story short, we obviously started in Portland, but then COVID came and then that ended that run.
We went to California last year, but that came with its own challenges and again.
COVID some other things so.
And without getting too down in the in the roots, people don't understand.
It does take a long time for us to get space at a facility we can't just call up a venue and be like, hey, we want to come have a show.
So with COVID and everything else that did actually kind of work in our favor and we were finally able to secure space in Salt Lake City which were beyond excited about beyond elated, we are very optimistic that we've finally found our permanent.
Known with Salt Lake.
Being a knife friendly state, very outdoors, really in line with what we as an industry subscribe to.
And then in terms of Texas, it was just an opportunity that fell into our lap lap with the former owner of the ICE Show and was kind of ready to say hey listen.
This event stuff is just a lot of work so they handed it over to us and we kept it as I CE in 2021. But then we threw the blade show name behind it and and now it's Blade show Texas as we all know it and.
It it definitely is going to be one that people will continue to keep talking about.
So Blade show Texas and Blade show West in Salt Lake in Utah.
Very as you mentioned.
Knife friendly states, especially Utah.
But so was it really?
I mean, we all kind of know about California and it's various foibles for being such a beautiful place and and everything else you know it's got some other it's got, it's got its other issues.
So is it difficult?
Was it difficult?
I'm assuming it was.
That's why you left.
But I mean it must have been a serious pain to work there, because I mean how much of what was being sold or what was being featured.
There was actually legal there, you know.
Yeah, and that was one of the obstacles and and you're exactly right.
I mean, as someone that you know, throws massive events, there's a lot of variables that we look at when we are looking at a venue.
Obviously we want to look at our demographics.
California is is a huge state with a it's which a lot of money for knives.
A lot of people interested in knives there.
Yes, we were aware that we were going to experience some fall out with kind of the autos and in the ballet songs.
We kind of worked around that a little bit, but.
You know, then.
Then there's a side of.
We won't bring politics into this, but then there was a side for us in 2021 and just the whole then it became the vaccination requirement.
But you'll have to laugh literally two weeks before the show.
They told us that when people come in through the metal detectors and I laughed and I said, I'm sorry, what?
I said you know what metal detectors check for.
This is a knife show.
Oh my God was something you should have told us when we were looking at the videos and option.
So again just another hurdle that we had to overcome.
And you know when you're running these events, you're trying to eliminate as many hurdles as possible and Long Beach.
Other than that, Long Beach had everything you want.
A perfect venue, didn't need a car.
You're on the beach, you can walk everywhere.
The hotel's connected to the Convention Center.
It was beautiful.
But those variables did not outweigh the other variables, so so were you able to convince them to scrap the metal detectors?
I mean, we still had them, but let people bring knives.
So yeah, it's like what are you checking for now exactly?
So yeah, so you know, we get feedback all the time.
Why don't you go to this venue?
And why don't you go to this venue?
And again, there's just a lack of knowledge that people don't understand that.
Prior to COVID venues book years in advance.
I mean, we're booked in Atlanta through two 2025 right now like where our space is booked through 2025. Texas, we're working on our contract for 24 and 25 right now, so once you kind of get in somewhere you tend not to let go of the space.
And so it was just a matter of us being in a position to finally get the facility.
Get the city that we wanted and everything lined up so we are again super excited about Salt Lake City this year.
So Blade show has more to offer than just.
Exhibitors and opportunities to buy and meet you know?
Actually, that's that was the greatest thing to me.
Where were the people, and I know a lot of people are going to say that a lot of people say that the best thing about Blade show is the people.
And it's true that very, very, very close second are all the awesome knives.
But it's great to meet people, shake hands, be introduced to people.
I bumped into someone who was.
Who who was commissioned by my parents to make me my my 50th birthday knife.
It was a big deal and I was really excited and I bumped into them.
There him there hunting for stag for my for my handle.
Oh my God and it was just the coolest thing.
Oh my God, how you doing you know and he showed me the the piece so I got to see it before it was transformed into a a loveless sub hill fighter handle which was so awesome but lot lot more than just the meeting.
The people and the things.
And the and the knives you can buy.
There are events and you do seminars like we're talking about Emerson, and I saw a great seminar he put on last year about being a man in in the modern day and the challenges and.
It was great.
I loved all of the ancillary stuff.
What are the other events and kind of things that people can take advantage of while they're there?
And you know the biggest thing that we have gotten to Bob about the Blade Show is it's not a show we actually referred to it.
Now as an experience, I think that's why you're seeing more and more people buy the three day pass.
It's literally the best value for your money because you can't do blade show in one day.
You're not doing yourself justice, and we understand that there's things in people's lives that allow them to only come for one day, but.
You know you're right.
We have the demos on Friday and Saturday.
We have Blade university classes, you know, you really have an opportunity to sit in a classroom and and learn from some of the top.
You know guys and their field and you basically are paying $25.00 to sit there and have one on one interaction.
You know, for an hour with these guys, so there's that element.
And then you have the ballet song competitions which has become.
A huge part of this show and then you have the blade sports cutting competition which.
We are excited.
His folly will be back this year.
They did a non title cutting championship last year but now that everything is back underway again they'll be back to their regular cutting championship format.
So you know, there's just there's something for everyone.
We have some women only focus stuff.
I think that.
Obviously people when they hear knife making, they do associate a lot of men only, but there's a lot of brilliant, brilliant up and coming knife makers, veteran knife makers, Veronique, they're not.
You know, Grace Horn, Laura Schwarzer and then you have Abby Lyons and Haley derocher, tiger Lily knight.
And I mean I could go on and on.
And, you know, I think it's really cool to see these women, and you know, we want to do a panel this year.
To get more women excited about knife making.
I love that I love hearing that.
Just you know well I'm married to a she's not.
She's along for the ride.
She likes knives we might doing martial arts she likes.
She likes the use of knives and and she's enjoyed.
You know, living with someone who's been down the rabbit hole with it.
But I've also worked with other women who like knives and we've had a few women on this show but.
I think it's just knowing I I. I'm also in production way different scale than you though and working with women in that line of work I see the attention to detail and and I don't.
I don't care what anyone says.
There is a difference and I'm not saying that that men don't have attention to detail.
I know they do and and men tend to love things and tend to spend special attention to details on things rather than.
Events or people or.
So what I'm trying to get at is it's exciting to hear about a lot of women coming up in knife making because it will be interesting to see how.
How that attention to detail gets translated into into this craft I love?
Yeah, and I you know I. I was thinking when you said that, jokingly, that's why a woman runs the blade show.
Many men have a Trident.
And you're right, their attention to detail is is different than what a woman's attention to detail.
Oh man, I I think they were wise to hire you.
You know yeah, it's it's a labor.
It's definitely a labor of love.
But I mean I, I've said it all and I've said it before and I know we use the word community a lot, but I can honestly say for me it's it's family now you know and it's.
I have forged no pun intended, some amazing relationships from this job over the past 14 years that you know, these people are are in my life and and outside of the blade show.
And that's just such a blessing, because, again, they're just such amazing people and.
You know one of the greatest joys is I'm able to, you know, when I either go to another knife, show that I'm not running or even at my own show.
You know, when I could get a chance to introduce a knife maker to maybe a sheath maker and they haven't met, but I get to put the two of those guys in touch and now they're like, oh, awesome.
Actually, I'm looking for this sheath.
Could you make it for me and or material handles?
Guy, you know?
Oh, have you not met this guy?
He he has amazing material handles.
Uhm, or handle materials.
You know, those are things that.
I love to do too and that is just another again perk or benefit of this job.
It's like being a professional yenta.
You know, getting people together and and.
Or master here yeah yeah, just getting them exposed to to you know one one person to another that's that's the perfect and that feels good for you.
I'm sure just to forge those those connections, you know, make her to make her to make her make her to.
I mean, that's what people are going there for.
It's kind of like.
Uh, uh, it's kind of like Sundance back in the day, people would make their independent films go to Sundance and hope to meet Harvey Weinstein, you know, heaven forbid now, but you know, that's kind of how the Blade Show works.
So like up front.
I was talking about how difficult it must be organizing something like this.
On this giant scale, and then I also alluded to the fact that you're, uh, you're dealing with people, you're the people you're working with and bringing into the show are all.
Artisans and knife makers and and a lot of them anyway, are are.
The type who spend a lot of time in their shop and a lot of time working and thinking about their work and maybe not as much time on administrative stuff.
Or, you know, on on practical matters because they're more artist types, you know.
Do you find that I know it's been a while because you've been doing blade show for 14 years, but do you find that working with the people who are actually occupying the show for blade show it's working is different than working in the kind of stuff you were doing before?
Yes, and you know well prior to my this job I was in PR marketing for years and years and years.
Ironically, I came from the ski and snowboard industry and there's a lot of similarities in terms of.
How those operate again this a community?
Because that's a big community in its own right, so there was a part of me that was sad when I had to leave that because I moved and I thought, gosh, I'm never going to find that again, but yet here I am.
But yes, you have to be accepting of the fact that.
75 well, 7075% of our exhibitor base.
Are not guys that sit in front of computers.
They're not guys that respond quickly.
As is such.
There's been a lot of time kind of getting that formula of you know what time of the year do I start sending information out?
How much time lead time do I give these guys?
But I would be lying if I did not say that I spend the better part of two weeks before the show.
Literally chasing down.
A lot of these guys to you know, get those last minute eyes dotted and T's crossed.
But it's OK. I've accepted that because again, these are not guys that are sitting behind computers and I respect that they're in their shops.
They're working, they're working and doing what they need to do to get ready for blade.
And I need one, you know, one tiny little last minute thing from them.
But you know they're trying to get everything ready too, so, right, right with that comes a lot of patience.
Oh man, I bet.
I bet because you know you need what you need and they've got knives to make and.
One thing's important to you, one thing's important to the other person.
So this event, this giant event.
How does it impact the community in?
Well in Atlanta is where we're talking right now, like, what have you seen?
How do you see the the?
And I'm not talking about the knife community.
I mean Atlanta itself.
You you come in here for a weekend.
I'm sure it's a whole week of set up and breakdown and all that stuff, but you kind of descend on the city in that area.
All these nice people come and it's this amazing.
A weekend and then and then it disperses.
Do you have any idea what kind of an impact that has on the on the city?
I can't necessarily say economic impact.
I mean I can.
You know, we obviously have about 14 hotels blocked, but I can tell you, you know, we've been doing this show at the COG valleria for 26 years.
We work hand in hand in hand with the Cobb tourism.
They have gone out of their way, rolled out the red carpet to to work with us because they realized the economic impact.
Obviously that we have and then the Waverly Hotel, which is the home of the pit that everybody knows so well.
It it would be not far pressed for me to say that that weekend at that hotel is by far the biggest spend probably of their entire year just in the bar bill so.
You know we have the entire hotel now, which has been great.
So, but really, in terms of food and alcohol, we're the biggest spin.
There's obviously other events that come into Atlanta that are bigger than ours.
I can't think of what it is the anime anime, so those are actually bigger in terms of physical people coming.
You know those those events get upwards of 40,000 people throughout the weekend, but those are also not big.
You know, money spenders.
Like our guys are, so we definitely have an economic impact.
But the Waverly we have heard stories where people work at other Marriott properties and have actually asked to come work at the Waverly that weekend of our show because they love it so much.
So tell people if they don't know what the pit is.
What's the pit?
So the pit kind of organically started years and years and years ago.
Because obviously Peach pit.
And the shape of the hotel itself.
And it is where everybody now goes after dinner to just go down and.
Have a beer?
Have a drink, have a soda, whatever your choice is and you will see you know Friday and Saturday easily upwards of you know 2000 people down there and I think it's an opportunity for.
Again, I wouldn't say any knife maker considers himself a celebrity a you know a prima Donna or any of that, but for some people getting a chance like you said, if you got a chance to go down and share a beer with Ernie Emerson, you would probably take that opportunity.
And so it really gives an opportunity for all the attendees that come to the show.
Maybe to sit down and grab a beer and have a chat with one of their favorite.
Knifemakers they can't do that during the show because that's business hours and so it's really just grown and grown and grown over the years.
And you know, we finally decided in 2021 to.
Do all of our awards right down there in the pit so that everybody can see that so chooses can see who's won the awards and all that stuff.
So that was a huge success last year.
That space that that wide open space you can.
You can be anywhere and and see what's going on from there the.
What was I gonna say about the pit oht?
Well, I I had a great time.
I went to the pit one night I was there for for three nights.
I went two nights but stayed late one night anyway, it doesn't, but the point is to me.
Yeah, they are celebrities and and and it reminds me of when I met Les George for the first time doing this podcast I was like, oh Mr George, you know I really love your work and sorry if I'm stammering, I'm a little starstruck and he's like what are you talking about?
He's like he's like, OK, here's the least famous pro bowler.
And here's the most famous knife maker, so get over it.
I was like OK, we just we had a great conversation but it was a funny.
It was just a funny thing because to me I you know I see these these guys you know bumped into Michael Janet wow it's so cool to see you in person.
You know they are my celebrities.
You know I'm not.
I don't care what the rock does or what what the starlets do.
I care what's happening in the knife world you know right and I think office also it's an opportunity for the knife maker to connect.
With you know there are there the people that are buying their knives and maybe get to spend a little bit more time with them too because.
I mean, let's be real.
The day that people quit buying knives.
You know this this.
This beautiful thing that we all get to be a part of.
Comes to us preaching halt, so I think you know that pit just creates that really that opportunity.
We're now everyone's on the same playing field.
Everyone's on on the same level and you're just sitting there drinking a beer with your buddy.
And it doesn't matter.
So OK, as we wrap up here, I just want to ask you for some advice that you might give to knife makers or budding knife companies.
Anyone who hasn't presented or shown at Blade show but is thinking about it saying next year or in the offing.
What would you tell them to to to do?
How to prepare?
OK, so there's my answer is going to be 2 pronged in that I would first speak to maybe guys that this will be their very first blade show.
And the best advice I can give you is.
Don't sit in your chair.
Don't be on your phone.
Make sure that you stand up behind your table.
Engage people when they walk by.
Every single maker needs to remember.
Someone may have come to your table.
They may have chatted with you.
They may not have bought a knife from you, but three months down the road they may be like, oh, I really want to go back and get you know Bob Smith's knife or once he got now.
So while you may not have made the sale that day, you never know what relationship you're going to create.
You never know what's going to come, so you know I've seen the downfall of so many makers saying, well, I had a terrible show.
I didn't sell anything and my first thought is you sat on your table.
You didn't engage, you were on your phone.
You didn't make on eye contact.
Those are so important and that can really make or break a show for you.
And in terms of people wanting to come to the blade show.
We never ask how many shows have you done before, but I would.
I have actually talked to people before who said this is going to be my first show.
I'm not really sure if I should come.
I really encourage them just to come and attend first come and see the show.
See what it's about.
See what people are doing and then maybe go to some a couple local shows.
Get an understanding for what people are looking for and then come to the blade show.
It it really is difficult if you're trying to come to the blade show for your first show.
Again, you're in a room with you, know 950 other exhibitors.
And it's going to be tough if you don't have something or you don't have the personality that's going to let you set yourself apart from everybody else.
Yeah, that that what you said about standing up and engaging in eye contact is is such a big deal because, you know, I've heard this many, many times from from custom collectors that after the first knife it it.
It almost becomes more about the relationship with that maker than their knives.
So yeah, that is very important and and I like your I like to thought of just literally standing up, you know.
And and because when you stand also you know in in turn you feel more confident when you're standing and when you're sitting and people are above you and looming, you know.
So I, I think, and and your comment about people walking around you, don't you know.
You could blow all your money in the 1st 20 feet of that place.
You know why?
So people are going to be walking.
They're going to be.
I'll be back and and then the makers, like, uh, probably not.
But you know, we'll see.
And some people are serious about it.
Some people aren't, but yeah, you got to.
You know you've spent all this time on this craft and making this thing so put in a little bit of that other effort and it's it's uncomfortable for some people to be sociable like that, but that is a part of that recipe.
You do have to sell the knife, right?
And like I said, you know.
It just depends on your your attitude.
If if you look at Blade shows and networking opportunity, an opportunity to meet other knife makers to hone your craft then Blake show will be great for you.
But if you're just looking to come in and you didn't sell any of your knives and it was a waste of your time, then you probably won't be back but.
That probably is not on us.
Alright, lastly people who are planning on attending or one attend for the first time just give a quick rundown.
Best way to get tickets?
Best deal on tickets and, uh, you said you have a block of hotels.
So obviously our website bladeshow.com has a wealth of information and we always encourage people to go there because we have all you know, frequently asked questions that people ask that we've gotten over the years, so you know, check there first.
The ticket link is right there.
Obviously all the early bird tickets are completely sold out, and for people that think that they will last longer than the first three weeks when we put them on sale, they do not.
We do have a travel section.
If you still need to get a hotel room, we have reduced rates at a lot of hotels in the area, so I think at this point in time, everybody's looking for a way to save a buck.
And if you can only come for a day, great.
But if you can come for the weekend, you will definitely get your moneys worth.
It's the best bang for your book.
A three day pass is $65, so not only do you get, you know all the knife shopping in the world, but you get the free demos and the ballet competition and the Cutting Championships and the pit and just everything else.
So it really is the best bang for your buck.
Yeah, and that first day is reconnaissance.
You're just walking around looking at what you want.
You're like a deer in headlights, and unless you are and listen, let's be real.
The early birds, the diehards, they are going in early because they're looking for a specific knife and they're going to get that.
So, for everybody else that's coming in, you will not walk away from Blade show and say I didn't find anything I wanted because if you do, then you're probably not a knife purse.
Well, if you're right Friday for those of you that are just coming in to just kind of take it all in, walk around, see everything, see what's out there, and then start to to go back.
Yeah, and and meet those meet those knife makers and introduce yourself and and start relationships with some of these people and man get your knives at blade show.
Thank you so much for coming on.
The Knife Junkie podcast.
It was a pleasure meeting you and finding out a little bit about what must go into this immense job.
Well, thank you so much.
Thank you for the the time and the opportunity to talk about.
Obviously something I love so much so you know, I look forward to seeing everybody I look forward to meeting you this year.
Finally and just thanks for the time and for the support of the show.
We appreciate it.
Take care all right, thanks.
Ever visit the knives on line in the hopes of satisfying your need to possess them in the real world?
Then you have a problem.
You are a knife junkie.
Alright, so that conversation just got me ridiculously excited yet again today.
For blade show.
I cannot wait and a big part of that is the people as I mentioned.
So I'm really looking forward to it.
I cannot wait.
And of course we'll be doing a show from there like we did last year, so be sure to join us next Sunday for another interview.
And of course Wednesday for the midweek supplemental, where you get to see some new stuff, new knives coming out and then Thursday Night Live Thursday night Knives.
Live right here on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch.
Join us tomorrow night for that.
Well, I guess it's not tomorrow night when you're listening.
Do excuse me.
Also check us out on the podcast apps right to the right of my face and until next time for Jim working his magic behind the Switcher.
I'm Bob DeMarco saying, don't take dull for an answer.
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