The end of the year is slowly creeping up on us. Most everyone is starting to prepare for Christmas, closely followed by the coming of the new year, then of course tax season, spring and so on. It seems as if we, as creatures of habit, get into a routine. Some things in the routine may be good and others not so much, but one thing that I hope becomes one of my positive yearly routines is the open house at USA Made Blade in beautiful downtown Salisbury NC..
USA Made Blade is an American-made only knife store started by long time buddies Scott Whittington and Kevin O’Mellan in 2001. Starting out in Scott’s house selling online, it quickly grew into having a brick and mortar shop downtown which it quickly outgrew and the current location is now on 320 N. main street. Since they have been at this location, every year they have hosted na open house in November. This last event, the third, took place on Saturday the 18th, and man was it ever a great time.
Now, let me back up and say, Scott and Kevin do not think that other countries produce bad knives, they just think that the best ones are made right here in the good old U.S.of A. In their shop you can find many high quality factory knives such as Zero Tolerance, Ka-Bar, Benchmade, Southern Grind, and Hinderer just to name a few. On top of that, Scott and Kevin have been huge supporters of the custom knife makers and stock an impressive plethora of edged goodies from (but not limited to) Fiddleback Forge, Allen Surls, Dylan Fletcher, Dogwood Custom Knives, L.T. Wright and even yours truly, T.M. Hunt Custom Knives.
Saturday, the day of the show, started out with beautiful sunny 65 degree N. Carolina weather. My son Jared and I made the drive the night before and had a relaxing swim in the hotel pool and the best nights sleep a king-sized hotel bed could offer. Being well rested we headed to the shop around 10:00 a.m. to help out with whatever we could before the doors opened at 11:00.
I’d like to think that by now, I have been around Scott enough times to know when he’s a little nervous and uptight. Saturday was no exception. This being only the third year of the event it takes a while to get into a routine (there’s that word again) and finding a winning formula might take a few tries. The first year was of course a “trial run” and last year tables were set up upstairs and everyone was spread out and kinda lost in the mix. I have attended all of them and I think Scott was a little reluctant to do it this third time, but as it often does, persistence paid off. When the doors opened at 11:00 knife nuts came flooding in the door and it didn’t stop until well past 6:00 in the P.M. At one point it was so crowded I couldn’t even get behind the counter were my knives were so I went to the other side of the store. While over there I’m pretty sure I sold two Fiddlebacks and one DPX H.E.A.T. so Andy Roy, if you read this I will be expecting a commission check any day 😉
The gang there at USAMB sure had it figured out this year. If a third more merchandise in the show room compared to previous years wasn’t good enough, there was all of the knowledge and resources on your favorite pieces right there waiting to help you. Myself and Andy Roy (Fiddleback Forge) were there representing the handmade market, as well as representatives from Southern Grind, and Spartan blades, but the real treat was having a couple of the biggest names in the industry rubbing elbows and having shop talk with anybody that wanted it. I’m talking about none other than Mr. Ethan Becker (Becker Knife and Tool) and Mr. Rick Hinderer (Hinderer knives).
These guys are walking legends and living libraries on the industry and craft of knife making. To meet them is a privilege by itself. To call them friends is nothing short of life changing inspiration. I have been friends with Ethan for many years and I’m still a little awestruck every time I’m around him. In my opinion, he is the perfect example of how its done, not only as knife designer, writer, chef and outdoorsman, but as a human being in general, friend and role model. If all you ever had to do to meet someone like him and the other people who where present that weekend was drive to USA Made Blade’s open house, why wouldn’t you do it?
People came to the open house for different reasons. The knives are the common bond of course, but the event has so much more to offer than just knives. As I have written in previous articles, the camaraderie shared by like minded people and friends old and new is an experience that can seldom be explained through words. However, even if you hate good people, friendships, knives and all of the good things I mentioned above, the catered BBQ from one of the towns hottest local spots is delicious enough to put a smile on the most hardened degenerate that ever walked the streets.
My point is, there is something for everyone inside the doors of USA Made Blade. Scott and the gang are a refreshing and encouraging addition to this craft and industry. I am a firm believer that they will have staying power and this event, like their business, will grow bigger and more successful over the years, While life doesn’t always work out this way, in this case, success could not happen to better group of people. I, for one, will do whatever I can to give them the respect, support and friendship they have given me.
So, check them out on the net, and if you can, make plans to attend the fourth annual USA Made Blade open house. you will not regret it. www.usamadeblade.com