Knives by Subscription


(Doo B. Wah) #1

A poster on another board I frequent is starting this service.

Basically, it’s a subscription service that sends you a new set of sharp knives on a set frequency. You just box up the old knives and send them back.

Essentially, you trade your dull knives every couple of months and always have sharp ones on hand. I have a full set I assembled over time, but this seems a good plan for beginning cooks, (or newly divorced men).

What do you think?

Knifey.com


#2

So… you’re paying $12-19 per month to essentially rent knives?


(Doo B. Wah) #3

I’d say it’s more akin to leasing a car. You pay that much to get an essentially NEW set of knives every few months to a year.


#4

Personally, it’s not for me. I actually think it’s idiotic. I can’t see someone who really appreciates fine knives using this “service.” The five knife set, sharpened three times a year, means an outlay of $239.88 a year. Year after year. Over five years you will pay $1199.40, ten years $2398.80, 20 years $4797.60, and only have one set of knives. Ridiculous.

Knives are each so very different. You have to hold them in your hands, use them, to see if they are right for you. Good knives last a lifetime. Better to invest over time in ones that you really like, and pay $5-10 each 1-3 times a year to have sharpened. (I hone on a steel before each use, do a major hand sharpening once a year spending five to ten minutes, with a 2-5 minute touch up at around six months.)

I have a nice collection of knives, and I enjoy sharpening them as well. Many of my knives are custom made, or hand made, or just work really, really, well. I have knives with emotional attachment, memories, from when i got them, or from whom. My first knife given to me by my father. The best he could afford when I just started cooking at around 9 years old and complained about the nasty knives my folks had. Then their is my most used knife, part of a set that I was given, with a bunch of other kitchen tools, when I attended culinary school.

I wouldn’t trade in a single one. And I find sharpening them is relaxing and therapeutic. A break from most of my whirlwind days.


(Doo B. Wah) #5

Clearly not a service for you.

Me either frankly. I’m not quite so “passionate” about it, but I too have my knives and am not interested in this service.

I posted a link to this thread on the other forum. I’m sure he appreciates your feedback.


#6

Alright this service isn’t for me (I like my knives) but I can absolutely see people doing this. Especially if you could also modify what knives you get from sharpening to sharpening. That way you could try out different styles and always have sharp knives.

For many people (I think) sharpening knives is intimidating - both doing it yourself and/or finding a reputable place to do it for you.


(For the Horde!) #7

Pretty interesting idea. I understand that many people find knife sharpening intimating, and they also find professional knife sharpening too expensive ($10-20 per knife), so they end up having many dull knives – which is not a good situation.

However, I don’t think this solves the problem. The pricing looks steep. Let’s look at the cheapest plan. $6 per month ($72 per year) for one chef knife to be sharpener once a year.

Not to be stupid, but … you can literally buy a new Tojiro DP Chef knife every year and toss away the old one.


(For the Horde!) #8

That would be an attractive idea, except they don’t… It would be cool if they have tons of different knives to rent. More like Netflix. Now, that would be a good idea.


(Robin Joy) #9

Newly divorced men just need to reach back to between their shoulder blades.


#10

I’ll give you slack because it was low hanging fruit.


(Dan) #11

Recently, my wife and I tried out a wine club. Small bottles, like 2 pours per bottle, thinking it would be fun. The issues we incurred included having to deal with missed shipments getting bounced around by shippers, broken and leaky bottle tops and one month we believe was just stolen from our doorstep. After weeks of back and forth, we cxld. The wine we did try was actually very good, the hassle was killer to the commitment.

Recs: be very careful how you design the delivery box. Boxes that advertise the contents vs a plain box are worth considering. Don’t skimp on shipping contracts. The popular starts at UPS but is delivered by USPS is full of destination hub issues. Don’t bury the fine print in your webpages. In the case of these knives, the loss fee is high.

I say, give a new business some time to grow locally before entering into national distribution. Would this offer appeal to enough demographics to be worth your investment? Offer a safe knife for the senior set or disabled and you might have a new market.

Finally, I would be hesitant to join this knifeclub simply because the knives never belong to me.


#12

Hi this is Cully, the founder of Knifey. DoobieWah - thanks for posting. It’s great to get feedback from folks who know what they’re doing in the kitchen! I thought I would stop by to answer any questions folks might have.

This knife subscription idea is definitely a new one , and I understand it might not be for everyone. I’m someone who likes to cook and enjoys sharp knives, but found that after all the demands on my time (work, kids, grocery shopping, cooking), knife sharpening was one of the things that just didn’t get done. So, I tried to figure out a way to make it really easy to have premium knives that were always sharp. It’s probably not for someone with a set of knives they are absolutely in love with or someone who loves sharpening. For someone just getting into cooking, sick of their own procrastination, or with high demands on their time, it could be an interesting solution.


(Dan) #13

Hi Cully, thank you for your comments. What made you decide to rent knives vs. offering a national, affordable, sharpening service. Did you consider persuing a specialized market like say safety knives? How are your knives packaged and shipped under a national service? How long have you been in business and what is your background for selecting knives for the consumer market?

I’m interesting in learning more about what led you to this business beyond a convenience service.


#14

The five knife set, sharpened three times a year, means an outlay of $239.88 a year. Year after year. Over five years you will pay $1199.40, ten years $2398.80, 20 years $4797.60, and only have one set of knives. Ridiculous.

Hi JMF - definitely understand this isn’t for everyone. But I do want to address your point about pricing being “ridiculous.” Any mail order sharpening service using stones (like we do) will cost you at least $10 per knife (many go much higher). So, if you do the math:

Sharpening: $10 x 5 knives x 3 times per year = $150 per year

Shipping: If you include the shipping component, which will likely cost you at least $10 each way (that’s being generous) x 3 times per year, that’s another $60 per year.

That’s $210 per year, and all before you factor in the cost of the knives, which for a similar set can easily set you back hundreds of dollars.

Our price of $240 includes newly sharpened knives showing up to your doorstep before your old ones leave your kitchen. There’s no need to figure out how to package and box your knives or go to UPS, because all that is done for you and it goes in your mailbox at home. Plus, if anything ever goes wrong with your knives (handle deteriorates, knicks, chips), it’s not your problem and you’ll always have knives in like-new condition.

Are there ways to do this for cheaper? Of course. Sharpening at home, or driving to your local sharpener, leaving your knives, and coming back to pick them up will all save you money. I would just make the point that we don’t think the pricing is “idiotic” when compared to other alternatives that are convenience-based.

As for knives all being very different: I couldn’t agree more. For someone who has already found knives they love, this probably isn’t interesting. But, for someone just getting started, most premium knives you have to shell out big bucks before you ever try them in your kitchen. It’s often like getting married before the first date! With a lack of up-front fees to buy our knives, we think it’s a good way to try them out and see what you like.

Anyhow, I appreciate you providing your perspective. Just wanted to add my two cents. We’re not trying to fleece anyone with this pricing. We think that a sharp knife is the most important tool in the kitchen, yet so many kitchens have dull knives. We’re trying to make it easy for people to always have premium knives that are always sharp.


#15

We’re just getting started, but are working towards having multiple knife lines to choose from. We love that idea too and are hoping to launch that option in the near future!


#16

Hi Rooster. Happy to answer your questions:

The choice to go with a knife service was driven around the fact that we wanted customers to always have sharp knives. If you have to package your set of knives up, send them in, wait for them to be sharpened, and then wait for them to come back, that’s a lot of time without knives in your kitchen (probably measured in weeks, not days). We wanted it to be really easy to ALWAYS have sharp knives in your kitchen.

We package our knives in a box specially made for the knives, with secure slots for each knife. This box then goes inside a second mailing box for an extra level of safety. These are sent via USPS 2-day mail. We have been closely monitoring it, but haven’t had any issues with lost packages or knives coming loose during shipment as of yet (knock on wood).

As for knives, we went through multiple rounds of knife prototyping and testing with a number of manufacturers before landing on our initial knife model. We’re really proud of the comfort, quality, grippiness, balance, durability and looks of the knives.

We just launched in November, so we’re very new. The impetus for this business was actually very simple: solving a pet peeve of mine and trying to make it incredibly easy for people to have premium knives that are always sharp.


(For the Horde!) #19

Ha ha ha.

I see a fairly narrow window here.
For people who lean toward good workhorse knives like Victorinox, Dexter-Russell, Mercer, and even Messerimeister and Tojiro, this service would be too expensive compare to the knife price ($30-80 per knife price). It would be the same as buying a Messerimeister every year. In addition, an electric knife sharpener ($70-150) is in the same range.

For people who are in the range of Artisan or very high quality $300-2000 per knife, they would want to own their knives, so this isn’t the solution.

This service would be aiming at people who otherwise would be buying $150-200 knives (per knife), want them sharp, and don’t want to be bothered by the logistic of knife sharpening – neither wanting to sharpen by themselves or find a local knife sharpener. They just want sharp knives with minimal effort.

To me, this is more of a long term mail-in knife sharpening service with their set of knives. The customers do not have to pay for the initial knife purchase. The seller (Knifey) can focus on sharpening this set of knives and not some crazy powder steel knives or custom Devin Thomas Damascus knives. If the knives are badly damaged, Knifey can simply replace with a new set and no one need to cry over their custom Mizuno Tenrenjo knife is chipped.

However, I can only see a fairly narrow hole here. This is ok. There are 126 millions American households. Even a 0.01% is 12600 houeholds. More importantly, there isn’t any competition.


#20

A curious question, how to ensure that people won’t just subscribe for 1 month and keep the knives?


(Dan) #21

Isn’t the competition consumers who aren’t going to know Knifey exists and will head to their local retailer, buy a decent knife based on budget and eventually replace it…pros who know a thing or two about knives, folks who shop specialty wares to accommodate loss of hand strength/disability, every retail and wholesale knife biz and the as shown on tv knife stuff.

Being a newcomer means the work is more challenging; including gorilla marketing, advertising, word of mouth, having repeat customers and so on. I just read a very lengthy article on the downfall of Blue Apron et al…

If you join the plan, cancel, don’t return your set and cancel your cc on file Knifey just entered another side of the biz. Collecting on those fees is one pita!

So given just a few of the devils to run an online mail order biz, I’d say the competition is quite real and the challenges ongoing.


(For the Horde!) #23

Blue Apron is coming down, but is it a little premature to say its “downfall”? I agree there are other competing options against Knifey. You are correct. I guess what I mean is that it isn’t quite like mail-in knife sharpening service where there are a hundred of them around USA. At this moment, it seems Knifey may be the only kitchen knife rental (or leasing) for home cooks for moderate level knives. There are knife rental services for professional kitchens. They go to restaurants and rotate their cheap knives at a low price.

I think there is something to this. I think Knifey sort of has the right direction. There is a need for easy home kitchen knife maintenance. How to fill that need is not obvious to me.

Just like there is a need for people to do online grocery shopping, but the code hasn’t been cracked yet. (I personally won’t like to do online grocery shopping because I like to buy the freshest vegetable…)