Today's Hot Trends in EDC Knives

Sharpen your sales techniques to sell EDC knives to discerning, blade-savvy customers.

Today's Hot Trends in EDC Knives

In business, one thing is constant and always a given: change. Until about a decade ago, the term EDC was just about unheard of, but now, nearly all of your tactical retail customers know the letters and what they mean, and many of your customers now follow a personal every day carry routine. As mass media and online channels show car jackings, random sidewalk abductions, home invasions, riots, and other levels of crime, your customers recognize they need to be prepared to take care of themselves and their families. Expect EDC items to be movers at the counter for years to come.

One EDC item that is gaining more and more attention is knives. Manufacturers are releasing new models with more built-in features on a near weekly basis. Are you following this cutting-edge market segment and meeting your customers’ needs and wants? Do you need to upgrade your offerings with EDC knives?

Online statistics from several sources place the U.S. cutlery market at $700 million to more than $1 billion dollars in sales annually — and those blades are more than the standard kitchen cutlery knives. To learn more about the knife market, take a look at the National Shooting Sports Foundation insightful Consumer Knife Market Report that covers EDC knives and provides many useful details, including trends with tactical users; expected annual sales nationally; and more than 35 features that consumers are focusing on when selecting a knife to own and carry. More details are at


Know the Cutting-Edge Details

When it comes to EDC knives, your customers select a best knife for their purposes — plus they have personal interests and want specific features. In most cases, these will be knives that fit inside a pants pocket, have pocket clips on the handle, provide blades crafted from specific steels, and incorporate easy or assisted-opening features — on top of many more technical features. Plus, the EDC knife must be sharp, durable and easy to resharpen. There are more than a dozen major knife manufacturers in the U.S. and thousands of knives that fall into the expanding EDC category. Most beginner-model knives that your customers seek in the EDC category will be folding models with pocket clips that are easy to open quickly.

“An EDC knife is ultimately a representation of the user,” says Chris Bourassa, Director of Marketing with Buck Knives, Inc. “For the EDC knife owner, appearance, utility and even the brand communicates the buyer’s desire to be a well-prepared, self-reliant individual.

A trusted knife that is carried daily adds a sense of security and capability that few other items in an EDC kit can contribute.” Knives come in numerous styles and are designed for many purposes.

As a retailer, it may be advantageous to select a few of your employees who have a strong interest in knives and train those individuals to discuss the many features of a knife with your customers, to include: steel, blade shape and intended uses; handles and materials; opening details and locking mechanisms; other unique features; recommended care of the knife and more.  Your employees should be able to discuss blade coatings (like with firearms, Cerakote is popular) and handle materials (such as Micarta and G10). Consumers also routinely want to know blade lengths, overall length of the knife when closed and open, the opening method and any assist features, and the locking mechanisms that keep the blade locked into place on folding knife models.

“With regard to price, performance and durability, the answer most always comes back around to steel,” continues Bourassa. “A solid understanding of modern blade steels, their performance attributes, and heat-treating specifics will allow an associate to quickly guide a customer toward a desirable option.”

EDC knives that offer that technical look and feel are generally among today’s top sellers. Your knife counter employees should also understand the various knife blade styles, such as clip point, drop point and tanto point. Customers frequently key in on what the blade is designed to do when making a purchase.

In yesteryear, nearly everyone carried the category that’s today known as a gentlemen’s knife — a small, 3-inch-long-overall folding pocket knife that had two or three blades that opened out and stayed in place. Interest in these knives is strong today and seems to be growing again. Many true tactical customers, however, are seeking the more technical knives with longer blades, textured handles, special coatings, locking-open blades and more.

You can ask your vendors/suppliers to discuss their line of knives with you and your staff, look at catalogs, and study the manufacturer’s website to learn the many details you and your employees will be passing along to customers. To help call attention to knives, most manufacturers have in-case and countertop displays that they can provide, or signage to place in and around your knife sales cabinets or wall peg-boards. The advertising options here are endless and growing — and these eye-catchers help gain the attention of customers in your retail center.

“Manufacturers often have freestanding displays that prominently display the brand and their selection of products and add to the position of the dealer as an authority in the knife category with a dedicated selection and brand presence,” noted Bourassa. It’s important to get knife examples out of the box so they can be viewed and handled.

In most cases, clear hanging packages give customers a chance to see the knife and understand its size and features. For those EDC knives you carry and sell, remember to remove them from the packaging — often a box — and open the knife even when they are in display cases and under glass counters. If the knife has a pocket clip, turn that side up when possible so customers see the feature. While some stores place EDC knives in a group, then other knives in groups by categories, a better display method could be to display knives by brand. The knife market has some very loyal brand customers. For those new knives that arrive in your business, consider a place on the top and front in your display case so shoppers can quickly see and inspect what is new to the market. EDC shoppers have more than one knife and are ready to buy another, per the NSSF Knife Ownership Report previously mentioned. This is the news that means sales and rings your register, if you call attention to the knives you offer your customers.

You and your staff should also be able to provide additional details about the knives you offer, to include country of origin, any warranty, blade-sharpening requirements or difficulty and more. EDC knife buyers tend to know knives in detail and understand the technical aspects — and are ready to discuss those. More good news in your favor as a business is that knowledgeable EDC shoppers visit retailers because they want to avoid the knock-offs, counterfeits, imports and poor-quality knives found on mass merchant online sites. Another reason to come inside your retail center is that the customer wants to experience the knife in their hand. Keep this in mind and always offer to let a customer hold a knife they express interest in.

While price is important, many EDC knife carriers know price often indicates quality. Quality EDC knives often sport a price tag beyond $100, and your customers expect to pay for the knife their life may depend upon.


Open the Switch-Blade Discussion

In the EDC knife arena, one topic often comes up with shoppers: switchblades. While switch-blade knives where the blade ejects straight forward from within the handle draw crowds of onlookers at some gear shows and flea markets, you and your staff should understand the auto-openers and be prepared to discuss these. First, note that switchblades are not legal to own and/or carry in all states. Then the legality becomes gray because of vague interstate commerce laws and technical wording. A top source for you and your employees to learn more is the American Knife and Tool institute website. There the language  defines a “switchblade knife” as any knife having a blade which opens automatically (1) by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle of the knife, or (2) by operation of inertia, gravity or both. The better news is the AKTI is working to overcome the stigma and repeal the out-of-date 1958 Federal Switchblade Act, thus auto-opening knives are now legal to own and buy in 44 states.

There is a difference between switchblades and assisted-opening knives. Educate yourself and your customers.

While knives definitely do not replace firearms as a tool to handle some situations and threats, an EDC knife can save a life and more. It’s a fact: Today, more of your customers are shopping for, buying, and carrying knives. Be prepared and you can be part of the increasing sales in this EDC category. Stay sharp!


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