I live in Massachusetts. It is a folding knife store desert. Literally all but a few stores have moved or closed. Even the venerable Stoddards, which is the oldest knife store in the US, has turned to crap. A visit a few months ago showed me a very limited selection of knives all for prices ABOVE, yes ABOVE, MSRP. Their business plan of ignoring internet savvy consumers seems pretty dumb. Sad for an institution that could have sold a knife to John Adams (it opened in 1800). There are some stores out west, in Springfield, but that is a far drive. So the end of the ellipse is this:
Then a few weeks ago my wife and I were at the mall (she is a hoarder and is still spending Christmas cash). She went into William-Sonoma and my son and I both rolled our eyes (he is eight months old but even at that young age he, like is pop, is not a shopper). We walked around and settled down at the knife section. And lo and behold I see a truly beautiful folding knife--a French knife called a Laguiole. They were slim, elegant, and beautiful. They were also pricey, but I think that is William-Sonoma's niche. They have a surprising array of them and all look great.
I am not saying these are the best EDC knives, but they do have a certain about of unique style. They can't be any lighter in construction than an Al Mar Ultralight and they have beautiful file work and handle materials.
The other thing I noticed was that high quality kitchen knives have started to pop up everywhere. Kai USA, which is the parent company of Kershaw, produces some really wicked looking, artisan quality kitchen knives. Some use Damascended steel and VG-10. Others are handmade. There are other brands at William Sonoma that are equally nice knives. And this merging of kitchen and utility cutlery is happening elsewhere. Kevin Wilkins, the designer of one of my favorite knives, the Leafstorm, has line of kitchen cutlery. His Ryback Evo 2 looks particularly beautiful. Similarly, A.G. Russell has a line of kitchen knives. It is especially interesting to see the kinds of steel their using. Henckels is using a steel called Cronidur, which I have never heard of, and from their claims it warrants a look. I am always interested in new steel and the parallel evolution of the folding knife and the kitchen knife offers an excellent way to see how two different approaches develop and use different steels.
In a knife desert you have to take what you can get.