Dear Sarasota Knife Collectors Club:
I was wondering if you could help me or at least give me some tips on how to start a knife club. Your experience as a successful knife club is why I'm contacting you seeking your help.
Congratulations on starting a knife club. I wish you the best of luck. I started up our knife club here in Sarasota (S.W. Florida) almost two years ago (editors note: this was written in 2006) and already we have 30 paid members and many more who are interested in joining. It was fun starting it up, and it was great seeing the genuine interest from the members. People actually thanked me, and still thank me for getting them together with other people who share their hobby.
I will try to answer all of your questions, and I will be happy to answer any more that you might have in the future.
Where are good places to have meetings where you don't have to pay for the room?
RESTAURANTS! And at dinner time - around 7pm. I have tested this out, and when we meet in an office, or building that does not have food/drinks the attendance is awful (about 8 people). When we meet at a restaurant our attendance is about 20 - 25. You should not have to pay for the room if several of your members are eating there. The only thing that I would suggest would be to try to have it at a restaurant that has a separate room, or is some how separated from the general population... People freak out when they see other people whip out knives at a restaurant.
What day of the week is best to have early evening meetings?
We meet on Tuesdays, because there is usually nothing else scheduled on that night to compete with our meeting. Also because our surrounding knife clubs (Tampa & Ft. Myers) meet on alternative Tuesdays.... and we did not want to compete with them.
What would be reasonable yearly club dues?
I thought about charging $10 per year like many of the surrounding knife clubs do, but our members were very spirited and motivated to get this club off the ground, so they decided to pay $20 per year. That put $600 in our bank account right away!
Should there be a monthly newsletter?
Absolutely! That is one of the things that the members get for their money. Many of our members have said that they really enjoy receiving the monthly newsletter, and learn of events, and shows in our area.
Would you allow smoking?
Smoking is not a real issue I don't think... If people want to smoke, they can go outside. If you are in a restaurant, it should be dictated by the rules of the restaurant.
What about providing refreshments like soft drinks, coffee, or water. Should it be free or should the members pay for each drink? Things like this can add up fast. I thinking that eventually the refreshments could be paid with the yearly dues.
Refreshments could be provided at the initial meeting, but this means that you will be paying for them out of your pocket... you could re-pay yourself after you start collecting dues though. After that, I would not have the club pay for food... it will drain your bank account fast, if members want food, they should buy it themselves.
Are there any other suggestions or ideas that you could share with me?
One of the key things that I did to start this club was to build a web site (this one) and invite people to contact me if they were interested in starting a club... after about 6 to 8 months, I had enough e mail address to schedule our first meeting... 6 people showed up at that initial meeting. We did not start charging dues until we had about 15-20 people coming to our meetings which was about 6 months later.
We always try to have a small knife auction at our meetings where we take a dollar bill for the privilege of the member to auction off his knife... The member gets to keep all of the money he won in the auction, but the knife club gets to keep the one dollar for each knife auctioned. We also hold a 50/50 ticket drawing where members can buy a ticket for a dollar, or 6 tickets for $5, and we draw a winning ticket out of a hat. The club, and the winner of the ticket split the proceeds 50 50. You can buy a huge roll of tickets at Wal-Mart for about $5.00
We also try to have a "surprise" guest at many of our meetings... That really draws interest and keeps the attendance high. We have had several very well-known & respected knifemakers at our meetings. For future meetings, we have sent out invitations to the Florida Token Kai Club (Samurai Sword Collectors Association), Local Knife Reps such as Case, Ka-bar, Buck, etc, knife designers, production knife companies, and many other custom knifemakers.
http://www.knifeworld.com & Knife World Magazine will publish your Knife Club information for free.
Yahoo also has a Knife Collectors Forum at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/knifecollectors/
Don't forget to check out www.BladeForums.com, www.KnifeForums.com, and UsualSuspect.net also.
Once you have a web site up and running, you can make some business cards or flyers with the web site address & meeting time, and distribute them at knife shows, gun shows, gun stores, sporting goods stores, etc... You can get some free business cards at www.VistaPrint.com. You just have to pay for shipping.
Hope this helps,
Cary D., President
Sarasota Knife Collectors Club
© 2006 - Cary D. - Sarasota Knife Collectors Club