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Cyber blades! Hnife.Art.com offers the leading custom knives online, plus special limited editions from the top bladesmiths.

The Internet has proven to be lightning-in-a-bottle for many a savvy business. Where else can you get information to a customer so fast, so friendly and so cheap? The smart money recognized this early on, and many built their business from scratch in cyberspace. One such success story is that of KnifeArt.com.

KnifeArt.com is an Internet website devoted to selling high-quality custom knives of all types. The company is the brainchild of Larry Connelley, a young Arkansas native who forged his love of both fine custom knives and the Internet into a profitable cutlery business that sells literally hundreds of knives from today's top knifemakers.

While most of his peers in their early twenties were slapping diapers on their first born or planning their next brewsky with the boys, Connelley was contemplating how to be an entrepreneur in the cutlery business. His game plan was not that of scads of knife purveyors before him-- he wouldn't be selling his wares at shows. Instead, Connelley went straight to the Web, launching KnifeArt.com at the tender age of 24.

I remember being referred to his site shortly after it went up. Knowing many of the major custom knife resellers personally, I had never met this new name to the game. I was, nonetheless, very impressed with the site.

The graphics were as slick as any I'd seen, the selection was incredible, and the list of makers read like the dean's list of custom makers. The more I navigated the site, the more taken I became with the overall professionalism.

Southern Roots

Shortly thereafter, the editor of American Handgunner, Cameron Hopkins, introduced me to Larry Connelley at the 1998 Blade Show in Atlanta. One might expect a person who builds and maintains his own website to be somewhat of a techno-weenie, but not in Connelley's case. He's got the drawl and laid-back demeanor of a true Southerner, and his enthusiasm for knives rings through with unmistakable passion.

The roots of Connelley's interest in knives goes back to his formative years as an Eagle Scout who spent much time backpacking and camping in the roughand-tumble hills and dales of Arkansas. His main area of interest is Bowie knives, and the nice selection found on KnifeArt.com is well-represented by some of the nation's top makers. His fondness for big camp knives, however, hasn't stood in the way of his business sense. While KnifeArt.com sells knives from all categories of personal cutlery, Connelley's big sellers are tactical folders and fixed blade knives. A quick glance at the sites offering readily confirms that Larry knows the big boys in the industry and that he gets a nice pick of their latest offerings.

A smart businessman, Connelley keeps his expansive selection of knives in a wide price range to keep his customers coming back for more. He attends many custom shows throughout the year solely for the purpose of buying knives for the KnifeArt.com and touching base with the knifemakers. Recently, he made a trip to South Africa to purchase knives from a growing number of hot makers.

On the site you'll find an ample grouping a knives from both well-established names to those on the way up. Prices for a custom knife can range from as little as $150 for a good all around using knife all the way up to $3,500 for an exhibition grade fighter. The prices for a given maker's knives are just the same if ordered direct from the source.

There are tacticals for all purposes as well. The range of combat folders is particularly impressive, and cyber customers can easily compare one knife to the next to determine their needs.

In Connelley's words, "My customers are passionate about a good knife. They love viewing my website, checking in often to see what I brought home from the latest show. I update the site frequently-- as soon as I get new items in-- so it's like being able to attend a knife show whenever you want."

KnifeArt.com's choices knifemakers includes names like Allen Elishewitz, Greg Lightfoot, Ernest Emerson, Kit Carson and the father/son team of Pat and Wes Crawford. To add a bit more spice to the equation, Connelley often offers exclusive knives from top artisan's that can only be found on KnifeArt.com.

To make knife viewing and selection easier, Connelley has designed his site to be user-friendly. Customers can view knives by a given category or by knifemaker. Each individual knifemaker has his or her own page with, in most instances, a photo with biographical information and the knives available shown in thumbnail fashion with a basic description.

Knives can be instantly reserved via an e-mail link on the main page that can also serve for asking Connelley further questions about his offerings. Credit card transactions can be conducted through secure server or by telephone during normal weekday business hours. The only thing Larry hasn't figured out how to do is allow the customer to handle the knife while shopping.

KnifeArt.com features custom knives from over 100 different knifemakers in a dozen different categories. The incredible selection, especially in the realm of tacticals, is certainly one of the best on the 'Net. Best of all, you can order a custom cutter from a top name in the industry and have it in a day or two as opposed to the lengthy wait often associated with high-demand knifemakers.
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Author:Covert, Pat
Publication:American Handgunner
Date:Mar 1, 2002
Words:906
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