A Fine Saturday Sharpening Knives

I arrived at the shopping center at 9:45 on a cool Saturday morning in late September. The shopping center, located in a subdivision about 10 miles outside of Santa Fe NM, was quiet. Hardly anyone was around, and most of the businesses were just opening up. I parked my car near the entrance and began unloading my supplies. It took me two trips to carry my knife storage bins, paperwork bag, sign, first-aid kit, sharpening equipment, and some other miscellaneous items. I found the 2' x 2' table sitting in front of the hardware store where I had previously sharpened knives for the past four weekends. I cleaned off the table, pulled up my chair, and started to set up.

I unpacked my Wicked Edge knife sharpener and clamped it to the table, and laid out my six grits of diamond sharpening stones. I placed my sign on the table, and set out a small stack of business cards. 

It was about 10:03 when my first customer arrived. She had seen the post I made in nextdoor.com that I would be sharpening knives that morning at the shopping center. An older lady with shiny white hair, she was very excited to have her chef's knife, santoku, and two paring knives sharpened that morning. I let her know it would take me about 15 minutes to sharpen her knives, and told her one of the stores down the hall was offering free coffee that she could get while she waiting for me to finish her knives. 

Before I clamped the the first knife in my knife sharpener, another customer had arrived. A gentleman in his 60s carrying a canvas bag with eight various kitchen knives was standing in front of me. He asked how long it would take to sharpen the knives. I let him know there was another customer ahead of him, so it would take me about 30-35 minutes to complete his knives. He asked if he could leave them with me and come back later in the afternoon, and I said that was perfectly okay. I retrieved one of my knife bins from under my chair, took his name, phone number, and address down on the order form, and placed the form in the bin with his knives. I then placed the bin below me and continued to sharpen the first lady's knives. 

After about 6 minutes I had finished the chef's knife and the santoku for the first customer, and just as I was getting ready to begin sharpening one of her paring knives another customer approached me. This time it was a lady in her 40s, and she was carrying two chef's knives wrapped in a dish towel. She asked me the price for the two knives and I let her know it would be $6.00 per knife. I was already half-way done with the first customer's knives, and I wasn't in a rush to sharpen the gentleman's knives because he wasn't due to come back for several hours, so I let her know I could have them done in about 15 minutes. She said she had to shop in the hardware store and that 15 minutes would be fine. I placed her knives in another bin, wrote down her name and phone number on an order form, and set the knives aside until I was done with the first customer's knives. 

The day carried on like this, all day long. One after another, customers would arrive to bring me their knives for sharpening. Several of the customers didn't want to wait or come back to pick up their knives, and I let them know I would deliver their knives that afternoon when I left the shopping center. They were very happy that I was willing to provide the delivery service for no extra charge. 

By the time I was done at 3:00 in the afternoon, I had sharpened 93 knives and made $530. I was tired and hungry, but I was thrilled about how successful the day had been. I delivered knives to five customers houses, and got home to my huskies just after 4:00. 

Not all days are that amazingly successful, but a lot of them are. Throughout that month I had made a total of five posts in nextdoor.com and handed out about 75 business cards to customers at the shopping center who were curious about my service. Those were all the marketing efforts I made, and my total income from sharpening at that shopping center for those five Saturdays was $1,173.00. But that wasn't my only sharpening income that month. I also made over $700 by picking up knives, sharpening them at home in the evenings, and delivering them back to customers who placed orders on my website. All totaled, I devoted approximately 36 hours to my sharpening service over that five week period and made over $1800!