I got back a from a vacation on Mount Desert Island in Maine, having been hiking for a week. It was my second time there and I enjoyed it heartily. It was a bit more difficult hiking with a 23 pound 14 month old on my back, but my wife and I managed it well. It also gave me a chance to test out some stuff, including a Maxpedition Pygmy Falcon II (review forthcoming). I also remembered that one of the stores in downtown Bar Harbor, the very epitome of a tourist trap, had a really decent selection of folding knives. Given that I live in a knife store desert, as I mentioned before, I thought I would take a peek at their wares and purchase a blade or two to support the brick and mortar store.
The store is called Jekyll and Hydes and it is a touristy place with all sorts of weird Maine-ish things, but one half of the store is a well stocked cutlery store. They had a dozen or so William Henry knives on display, almost the full line of Benchmade knives, a bunch of Spydercos, Kershaws, and Cold Steel knives. They had a few CRKT knives and one SOG knife (the Trident). All in all, it was a very good selection compared to the local cutlery store Stoddards, which is terrible. I had some cash in my pocket and intended to do my part to support the local cutler (the guy behind the counter was quite knowledgeable, if something of a Benchmade fanboy). Another guy and I were browsing and I was hanging back to see if I could judge the acumen of both the shopper and the shopkeep. I asked to see the Caly3 in CF, a purchase I should have made a long time ago. I was about to pull out the credit card when the price tag slipped out from behind the wire clip. I hadn't really cared if the blade was more expensive than it was on Amazon ($117 as of 8/13/11), so I hadn't checked, but good thing I paused because the tag read: $224. MSRP is $219.95 as of 8/13/11. It was OVER MSRP on a very expensive knife. It was not alone. Every knife of every brand was like that.
I don't expect brick and mortar stores to sell stuff for the same price. They have to pay staff, rent, utilities, etc. I will pay for the privilege of seeing and handling stuff in person. I will pay a good bit more, but I am not willing to pay more than MSRP. Seriously, that was almost unethical business practices. Things are priced what people are willing to pay, but that is just insane.
I'd love if there were a local knife store with knowledgeable folks. I'd pay $125-$130 for the Caly3, heck even $150 if the service and store were nice. But I am not going to pay more than 100% more than I can get it for on Amazon. And I am certainly not going to pay more than MSRP. Perhaps this is why cutlery stores (like the mall chain store versions) are going under--they are intent on pillaging customer's pockets instead of making a customer for life. Bad business practices = no business at all, especially in this tight economy.