High end knife shops hurting the industry.

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Also. I think there really are two fundamental things going on here because the OP made a point in a thread, but made a whole new discussion with his original post.

Time to make thread Numero dos
 

DanielC

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I love making you guys luxury goods, but I net around 0 profit and could never see myself doing this for a living at my current trajectory. Unless something crazy happens and all of a sudden people want sanmai from me, I basically pay you guys to buy my work from me 😆🥲

You guys want wootz? There's maker's that tell me I should be charging $5000 for a kitchen knife in wootz. Because they know the work involved. The effort and the hours. Yet, who would I sell to? Who's buying that? Lol. Yes, this market is absolutely difficult to break into, and yes I'm going to continue trying so I can finally validate all of this time invested to realize something. But ffs, if I lost my day job tomorrow, knives couldn't keep the lights on.
 
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Jovidah

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No... but here is the thing... You can interpret the phrase 'high end' multiple ways... Does it mean high performing? Does it mean high craftsmanship? Does it mean expensive??

There is no need to conflate expensive with performance. I think a mass manufactured, high performing knife should be accessible to as many people as possible. I never spent much time exploring that space... but I am sure it exists. KKF represents a minority consumer group. We like to geek out about the hottest trends/blacksmiths. This can tip into the irrational. And many times that 'high end' doesn't necessarily equate to great leaps in performance.

People being priced out of the 'high end' (as in expensive/luxury) things?? I dunno... I am apathetic about that. Perhaps I dont think it is a 'good thing'... I think it just... "is"...
A high performance no-compromise knife at a low price is IMO the holy grail but we have yet to find it. There's a lot of good knives and solid performers in the more accessible price ranges around but virtually all of them have at least a few caveats and minuses, and even those have knives have crept up in price significantly over the years to the point that a lot are a difficult sell to non-knife enthusiasts.

I don't really hold any value judgements about the way the market went - it's a bit like complaining about a force of nature -, I just don't see how one could describe it as a positive thing. As I said in the other thread; most knives are still at a pricepoint where if one truly wanted it as a hobbyist one could save up for it and afford it, but the bar to entry has gone up significantly over the last 5-10 years. I struggle to see how that can be described as a good thing... I'd really love to get more people around me into better knives but those conversations usually end when pricing comes up.
 
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A high performance no-compromise knife at a low price is IMO the holy grail but we have yet to find it. There's a lot of good knives and solid performers in the more accessible price ranges around but virtually all of them have at least a few caveats and minuses, and even those have knives have crept up in price significantly over the years to the point that a lot are a difficult sell to non-knife enthusiasts.

I don't really hold any value judgements about the way the market went - it's a bit like complaining about a force of nature -, I just don't see how one could describe it as a positive thing. As I said in the other thread; most knives are still at a pricepoint where if one truly wanted it as a hobbyist one could save up for it and afford it, but the bar to entry has gone up significantly over the last 5-10 years. I struggle to see how that can be described as a good thing... I'd really love to get more people around me into better knives but those conversations usually end when pricing comes up.
Like I said I still think there are amazing values...maybe just not at the high end you mean? Takamura R2...really any Y Tanaka that is not an FM...Hatsukokoro komorebi is one I recently got that you can find on sale quite easily and that punches way above its price imo. Sukenari always fabulous value...maybe this just isn't the case in europe? I have been buying some stuff from australia and direct from Japan for decent deals. Hell, there are tons of american makers who will make you a honyaki with pretty decent fit and finish for $500 or less. Spare in europe if he gets to you on his waitlist 😔
 
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those conversations usually end when pricing comes up

Out of curiosity... what price bracket are we talking about?? Everybody has their limits.

I think a mass manufactured, high performing knife should be accessible to as many people as possible. I never spent much time exploring that space... but I am sure it exists.

This may sound a little highfalutin. I dont mean to be an elitist or a snob... but I think the majority of us follow an upwards trajectory. If you saved up and purchased a $300 knife, buying a <$100 knife is not going to be exciting. So KKF tends to have a pull towards more expensive options.

I have found the chef's and sharpeners on this forum to have a more diverse view on 'value'. They tend to encounter many more knives in the lower price bracket due to their work. Whilst none of these knives might be stellar... there will still be 'better' and 'worse' value options.


While japanese smiths might be better classified as 'semi-mass-manufacturing'... as already mentioned... they offer plenty of 'affordable' options. While a $300 kitchen knife might be mind boggling expensive to non-enthusiastic, middle income earners, it is within the realm of affordable. There is plenty to explore in that space... including 'high end' (whatever that means) and high performing options. More expensive options after that price point (approximately) don't really do the job any better - or hit diminishing returns really quickly...
 

Jovidah

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Like I said I still think there are amazing values...maybe just not at the high end you mean? Takamura R2...really any Y Tanaka that is not an FM...Hatsukokoro komorebi is one I recently got that you can find on sale quite easily and that punches way above its price imo. Sukenari always fabulous value...maybe this just isn't the case in europe? I have been buying some stuff from australia and direct from Japan for decent deals. Hell, there are tons of american makers who will make you a honyaki with pretty decent fit and finish for $500 or less. Spare in europe if he gets to you on his waitlist 😔
Takamura R2 and cheaper Y Tanaka knives are relatively good-value knives but I consider both of them in the 'some compromises are made' category. Takamura R2 probably has (or at least had at the price I bought it) the best price-performance ratio of any knife out there... but it's not without compromises.
Sukenari went up in price significantly... but I agree the gin-3 models used to be a screaming deal.

Being in Europe certainly doesn't help; the dollar to euro exchange rate deteriorated significantly over the past decade which largely contributed to this problem...and then there's the usual customs lottery (though I often managed to evade it).
Out of curiosity... what price bracket are we talking about?? Everybody has their limits.
In my experience, for most 'normal people' around me, 100 already euros is considered expensive, 150 euros is pushing it, and 200 euros is pretty much a hard no already. IME you used to buy a lot more knife in that price-range a few years ago than now.

This may sound a little highfalutin. I dont mean to be an elitist or a snob... but I think the majority of us follow an upwards trajectory. If you saved up and purchased a $300 knife, buying a <$100 knife is not going to be exciting. So KKF tends to have a pull towards more expensive options.

I have found the chef's and sharpeners on this forum to have a more diverse view on 'value'. They tend to encounter many more knives in the lower price bracket due to their work. Whilst none of these knives might be stellar... there will still be 'better' and 'worse' value options.


While japanese smiths might be better classified as 'semi-mass-manufacturing'... as already mentioned... they offer plenty of 'affordable' options. While a $300 kitchen knife might be mind boggling expensive to non-enthusiastic, middle income earners, it is within the realm of affordable. There is plenty to explore in that space... including 'high end' (whatever that means) and high performing options. More expensive options after that price point (approximately) don't really do the job any better - or hit diminishing returns really quickly...
Yeah I think just about everyone experiences this 'moving frame of reference' when it comes to pricing. :D
I agree that entry level value is definitly better. The gap between garbage (or something like a Wüsthof) and my 100-150 euro J-knives is IMO larger than that between those and my 300e + knives. It's a bit of a shame that these days it feels like a bit of a neglected category over here... most people who tend to buy a lot of knives buy them in higher price ranges and as a result the lower end is less well-documented and reviewed.
 
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Takamura R2 and cheaper Y Tanaka knives are relatively good-value knives but I consider both of them in the 'some compromises are made' category. Takamura R2 probably has (or at least had at the price I bought it) the best price-performance ratio of any knife out there... but it's not without compromises.
Sukenari went up in price significantly... but I agree the gin-3 models used to be a screaming deal.

Being in Europe certainly doesn't help; the dollar to euro exchange rate deteriorated significantly over the past decade which largely contributed to this problem...and then there's the usual customs lottery (though I often managed to evade it).

In my experience, for most 'normal people' around me, 100 already euros is considered expensive, 150 euros is pushing it, and 200 euros is pretty much a hard no already. IME you used to buy a lot more knife in that price-range a few years ago than now.


Yeah I think just about everyone experiences this 'moving frame of reference' when it comes to pricing. :D
I agree that entry level value is definitly better. The gap between garbage (or something like a Wüsthof) and my 100-150 euro J-knives is IMO larger than that between those and my 300e + knives. It's a bit of a shame that these days it feels like a bit of a neglected category over here... most people who tend to buy a lot of knives buy them in higher price ranges and as a result the lower end is less well-documented and reviewed.
Out of curiosity where did sukenari prices go up? Knives and Stones offers the ZDP damascus gyuto for $450 USD. That was my grail knife on intro to collecting like 6-7 years ago and I definitely don't remember them being that cheap even, I think prices went down. Standard SG2 240mm is $290. Did they used to be a lot less?

Hatsukukoro and especially Nigara always feel like good value, especially Nigara if you want a stainless clad aogami super or sg2. Nakagawa is also making pretty dance bang for buck knives.
 

Jovidah

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Out of curiosity where did sukenari prices go up? Knives and Stones offers the ZDP damascus gyuto for $450 USD. That was my grail knife on intro to collecting like 6-7 years ago and I definitely don't remember them being that cheap even, I think prices went down. Standard SG2 240mm is $290. Did they used to be a lot less?

Hatsukukoro and especially Nigara always feel like good value, especially Nigara if you want a stainless clad aogami super or sg2. Nakagawa is also making pretty dance bang for buck knives.
JCK specifically....and I'm mostly talking the Gin-3 series here since they were the only series that was ever cheap enough to be entry-level pricing. About 5 years ago I bought a 210 in that series for 145 euros, which at the time was only something like 125 euros.
Arguably it's mostly academical anyway since virtually everytime I check the gin3 gyutos aren't even in stock... neither at K&S nor at JCK.
 
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JCK specifically....and I'm mostly talking the Gin-3 series here since they were the only series that was ever cheap enough to be entry-level pricing. About 5 years ago I bought a 210 in that series for 145 euros, which at the time was only something like 125 euros.
Arguably it's mostly academical anyway since virtually everytime I check the gin3 gyutos aren't even in stock... neither at K&S nor at JCK.
Wow that is cheap.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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I love making you guys luxury goods, but I net around 0 profit and could never see myself doing this for a living at my current trajectory. Unless something crazy happens and all of a sudden people want sanmai from me, I basically pay you guys to buy my work from me 😆🥲

You guys want wootz? There's maker's that tell me I should be charging $5000 for a kitchen knife in wootz. Because they know the work involved. The effort and the hours. Yet, who would I sell to? Who's buying that? Lol. Yes, this market is absolutely difficult to break into, and yes I'm going to continue trying so I can finally validate all of this time invested to realize something. But ffs, if I lost my day job tomorrow, knives couldn't keep the lights on.

I think your work is criminally underappreciated.

I just need to have the funds put together at the right time to get on your books before people swamp you with requests!
 

moderncooking

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Just venting here but I am getting frustrated with some of the high end knife shops.
Owl Woodworks did a post early about Farina Fine arts adding $500.00 to $1000.00 to some work they picked up at a show in Nashville.
Eating Tools just posted 2 Bidingers for $1000.00 each AEB-L knives. Those same knives would go for about $650.00 at Epic Edge.
There is no coming back from that pricing and essentially means I will never buy a Bidinger. Same goes for someone like Don Nguyen.
Don may make the best knife in the world, I dont know but, $2400.00 for a refurb made in 2017. $1600.00 for a 6 year old used 52100?
I appreciate the guys like Modern Tools, Epic Edge, Crocker etc. whom are able to make a profit but still offer market priced knives.
I dont really know my point to this post but I feel like its getting to the point where is a maker starts to get good he is instantly unaffordable and it sucks as a buyer.
Thanks Matt, we try to be reasonable
 

Matt Jacobs

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@Matt Jacobs In general I agree with you but you are off a bit.
A custom AEB-L B-grind from Dan will run you around 800-850$ shipped.
So these prices are quite moderate for eating tools. I know some of their margins.
I was really surprised about the pricing of his knives at EE. Super cheap, so they didnt make a lot of money with it and also Dan probs sold it cheaper to them than direct customer. He can benefit from this with increasing his circle of clientele.
Last year if I had bought a Magnacut B-grind he had available I would have paid way less than now getting a custom with it. It's so much more now that I opted for AEB-L, in general his prices increased. Overall he is a great maker and the experience working with him was absolutely great.
A custom is more work for the maker than something which he just makes in his own gusto. Some customers it's just 2 emails and done deal, others it's like 80. The 2 emails guys will still pay the same price as the 80 ones. I'm gonna get another Kamon and it was just 2 messages and done deal. Though I know him in person and he knows my preferences which makes it of course easier. I'm usually pretty certain what I want and do it in detail which makes it easier for makers. When I'm talking with them it's usually something I wanna know about their whys and hows and some chitchat if they are up to it. Don't wanna rob them their time.

I find it quite funny when you indict Eating tools but say Modern cooking are doing good in that regard. I know some of their margins and would put them slightly under ET. Just because they are more active here doesn't make them good. I'm not saying they are bad but I probaly won't buy from them. Also from what I have heard Abe from Eating Tools also isn't a bad guy. He went for full luxury and that's also his clients, so not really a lot of us who buy from him.

I don't have much against slight price increasements but some makers really went quite through their roof with their pricing. Also as long as the makers directly benefit from it it's fine.
I don't like to see Japanese makers upping their prices and Asian wholesalers even more upping them and profiting the most.
JKI, EE, Carbon... are great and their prices are still fair. Also wouldn't call them high end vendors.
If a maker sells his knife for 700, Vendor sells it for 1000. Maker increases his price to 800, suddenly it's 1200, that's not okay imo.

Also have to add that makers are also at fault with this. They actively go into exclusive contracts with such shops and decide that's okay. Some also deserve some blame.
Thank you for brining this up Jays20. I really hadnt considered that aspect of it. Dan actually reached out to me with the same explanation. I saw the difference from $650.00 - $1000.00 and it bothered me. After talking to Dan I think the price being charged was justified.
 
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In general, price comparison between vendors can be problematic as well. EE is cited as good prices here, but their Wakui prices are around double of Bernal's more recent drop. I don't think it's wrongdoing on their part, just that EE got in at a different price than Bernal did and both are charging appropriate margins. I imagine the EE Wakui stock will sit for a bit before it starts moving again as the old priced items move.
 

Xunzi

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I'm pretty new to this hobby so I don't know about these specific items. But based on my other hobbies this phenomenon seems fairly universal.

In any hobby there is a latent demand for "unique", "luxury", "cream-of-the-crop" stuff, for which the incremental value does not follow price linearly (diminishing returns). What you're paying for is not utility but the feeling of owning something special and exclusive. That's the economics of luxury, and in fact, demand might increase with price for these products - so called Veblen goods.

Personally, I believe in moderation, meaning I'm willing to pay for "premium"/"niche" but I prevent myself from going off the deep end and just pay hysterical prices for what in the end is just a mind trick. Life is better because of hobbies and interests, but ultimately there are more important things in life and so I don't want to lose perspective.
 

deskjockey

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Also just as general info, like @MowgFace I'm a manufacturing guy and my company almost mandates a 40% margin.
Because they want to stay in business. 40% and higher is what is needed for most businesses to stay in business.

With labor inflation and energy inflation, I dare say 40% isn't enough for most businesses.
 

deskjockey

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Depends on where you live and where the knives are from. Americans might get lucky due to the appreciation of the dollar vs the euro and yen.
Currency conversion costs ebb and flow over time. Last time I was in Europe pre-COVID, the Euro was really strong so I took a beating on the USD conversion rate.

Right now the € and ¥ are weak and the $ is relatively strong so, favorable for us for a little while but, this will change with our high inflation and national debt under the current administration.
 

deskjockey

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terrible shame our system which can only operate in business as usual mode by forcing people into abject poverty has experienced even the slightest disruption and impacted your ability to get toys at a lower price.
Sorry but, that seems like a really short sighted rant.

His post had nothing remotely saying he expected people to be forced to work and live in abject poverty so he could buy cheaper toys today.

Unskilled labor simply is not as valuable as skilled labor. Do you really want $20 Happy Meals and $30 Big Macs? Do you think McD would sell enough at those prices to keep the lights on?

Stores or middlemen/women adding big margins to the cost of something without adding additional value is what this post was originally about. Price gouging is bad whether a retail store or an individual employee IMHO.
 

deskjockey

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I know it's a fact of life; this is simple market mechanics and I'm not telling shops what they should and shouldn't do. I just struggle to understand a world view where it's described as a good thing that people are priced out of a hobby. Does it make your knives perform less if more people could have them as well? Would the world really stop turning if everyone was somehow able to buy great knives?
His comment was about high end knives, not great knives.

My life is not diminished because I don't own a "high end" car. I do have a "great one"!
 
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Currency conversion costs ebb and flow over time. Last time I was in Europe pre-COVID, the Euro was really strong so I took a beating on the USD conversion rate.

Right now the € and ¥ are weak and the $ is relatively strong so, favorable for us for a little while but, this will change with our high inflation and national debt under the current administration.
I can’t predict the future but I don’t think that’s an accurate outlook. Other countries have inflation too, and it’s even worse in many cases, since they also getting hammered in imports. It’s not some American only phenomenon just because it’s all you hear in the American news. For example, UK annualized inflation is 10% compared to 8.5 for the US in the same period.

Japan notably has lower inflation, but it’s very historically high there
 

deskjockey

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Look... I am with you on wages... they have been stagnant for too long. I could join you in a long rant about fixing income disparity... but that is not germane to this thread.

As long as I have been a member of KKF, @HumbleHomeCook has presented as a reasonable person. I dont think the comment was about suppressing wages growth:



An increase in labour costs of 33% is significant. The discussion around whether workers deserve that raise (I think they do) is different to whether the consumers should bare the cost (I think, in part, they should). We are addicted to cheap sh!t.

Similar, and more in the context of this discussion, I fully support European blacksmiths passing on the higher cost of fueling their forges on to consumers (and other general inflation). I think that is the point people with manufacturing backgrounds are making (@HumbleHomeCook & @MowgFace).
Exactly!

Labor costs can rise to a point where the business they work at is no longer viable and goes away. Then instead of getting a paycheck that may or may not have stagnant wages, they get NO PAYCHECK!

Any business that does not pass on the costs of production is on the path to insolvency. We aren't talking Scruge McDuck here, any business that does not make a profit will cease to be in business at some point; that is assuming you aren't in Social Media or Federal Government where spending more than you make apparently works in their alternate universe!
 

deskjockey

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I can’t predict the future but I don’t think that’s an accurate outlook. Other countries have inflation too, and it’s even worse in many cases, since they also getting hammered in imports. It’s not some American only phenomenon just because it’s all you hear in the American news. For example, UK annualized inflation is 10% compared to 8.5 for the US in the same period.

Japan notably has lower inflation, but it’s very historically high there
Separate from rising energy costs, inflation, etc., what I am looking at are actual currency exchange rates. This is due things other than relative rates of inflation and energy costs.

When a € used to cost $1.43 and now costs ~$1.03 (today) matters if I am shopping or traveling in the EU. $1USD is about 145¥ today as well which is really good for travel in Japan.

Whether I am buying a knife or a beer in the EU or Japan costs me less today due to the current currency exchange rates!
 
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Eating Tools just posted 2 Bidingers for $1000.00 each AEB-L knives. Those same knives would go for about $650.00 at Epic Edge.
A little late to the party. I run out of budget this year but was hoping to score a Bidinger next year. At this rate, I might as well forget about it. And Kamon too probably.

Japanese knives are rapidly increasing in price also. It's like limited release like the Kaiju opened everybody's eyes. Make limited releases, increase the price and watch it fly off the shelf.

I mean it's great for the industry. Makers work with retailers to streamline, increase income and hedge risk. More power to them, no doubt, success is always a good thing. Like you said though, it sucks for us buyers who has been in the game for a while, but feels like we are slowly being pushed out.
 

tcmx3

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Sorry but, that seems like a really short sighted rant.

His post had nothing remotely saying he expected people to be forced to work and live in abject poverty so he could buy cheaper toys today.

Unskilled labor simply is not as valuable as skilled labor. Do you really want $20 Happy Meals and $30 Big Macs? Do you think McD would sell enough at those prices to keep the lights on?

Stores or middlemen/women adding big margins to the cost of something without adding additional value is what this post was originally about. Price gouging is bad whether a retail store or an individual employee IMHO.

I really, really dgaf if McDonalds gets more expensive. If they cannot survive by paying their employees a living wage, I genuinely hope they disappear from the face of the earth.

Unskilled labor? I would be considerably more sympathetic to that claim if people were paid their marginal output. Unfortunately, I went to school for economics for a long, long time, and these sorts of arguments simply do not work on me on account of me understanding where reality diverges from fantasy. Plus have you seen how much a baker makes? Making a croissant is harder than what most software engineers do and 100% of middle managers do.

And that is exactly the point. If the whole system falls apart because you don't use poverty wage labor, and you desperately want to protect the status quo, that's exactly what you are saying. The whole "unskilled labor" thing is just a distraction. I know it hurts feelings to point that out, but it is what you are saying.

Also this situation is definitionally not price gouging. No one is compelled to buy one of these knives. Gouging happens when people need things and folks take advantage of their duress. Like water during a 6 day power outage where the water processing plant shuts down, or after getting hit by a hurricane.
 
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I really, really dgaf if McDonalds gets more expensive. If they cannot survive by paying their employees a living wage, I genuinely hope they disappear from the face of the earth.

Unskilled labor? I would be considerably more sympathetic to that claim if people were paid their marginal output. Unfortunately, I went to school for economics for a long, long time, and these sorts of arguments simply do not work on me on account of me understanding where reality diverges from fantasy. Plus have you seen how much a baker makes? Making a croissant is harder than what most software engineers do and 100% of middle managers do.

And that is exactly the point. If the whole system falls apart because you don't use poverty wage labor, and you desperately want to protect the status quo, that's exactly what you are saying. The whole "unskilled labor" thing is just a distraction. I know it hurts feelings to point that out, but it is what you are saying.

Also this situation is definitionally not price gouging. No one is compelled to buy one of these knives. Gouging happens when people need things and folks take advantage of their duress. Like water during a 6 day power outage where the water processing plant shuts down, or after getting hit by a hurricane.
TBH the reason these jobs are hard is the same reason they pay poorly: supply outstrips demand so workers are treated as disposable. I don’t think making a croissant is harder than software engineering: that’s laughable. But the job of a baker is more than making croissants, and it involves poor working conditions.
 

deskjockey

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I really, really dgaf if McDonalds gets more expensive. If they cannot survive by paying their employees a living wage, I genuinely hope they disappear from the face of the earth.

Unskilled labor? I would be considerably more sympathetic to that claim if people were paid their marginal output. Unfortunately, I went to school for economics for a long, long time, and these sorts of arguments simply do not work on me on account of me understanding where reality diverges from fantasy. Plus have you seen how much a baker makes? Making a croissant is harder than what most software engineers do and 100% of middle managers do.

And that is exactly the point. If the whole system falls apart because you don't use poverty wage labor, and you desperately want to protect the status quo, that's exactly what you are saying. The whole "unskilled labor" thing is just a distraction. I know it hurts feelings to point that out, but it is what you are saying.

Also this situation is definitionally not price gouging. No one is compelled to buy one of these knives. Gouging happens when people need things and folks take advantage of their duress. Like water during a 6 day power outage where the water processing plant shuts down, or after getting hit by a hurricane.

I don't know where you got your economics degree but, it sounds like you either flunked out or went to one of those schools that focuses on issues other than education.

Secondly, I would not call a baker unskilled labor. Implying a software engineer doesn't have to work hard further suggests you don't really understand what is involved with software engineering. Thanks to a deeply flawed education system, I can sort of see your point about middle managers in the general sense.

My sister tried working two fulltime jobs straight out of high school to pay for her lifestyle and basically failed. She then went to school and got a Masters degree in nursing and lives a life that many envy with a nice house, cars, vacations, etc. I'm sorry but, the Walmart cashier, McD janitor, etc. do not deserve the wages to provide her lifestyle or, if it does, she is vastly underpaid. Myself, I put myself through college raising beef cattle, growing wheat and, working hourly jobs so, it is not like I was some 'trust fund baby' and I worked very hard as a software engineer!

In terms of poverty wages, crushing inflation and energy prices right now are hurting people a lot more than Walmart, McD, etc.

Personally, anyone price gouging during a disaster needs to be taken to the public square and whipped, tarred, and feathered! In times of disaster, if we don't take care of each other, what good are any of us?

Profiteering is pretty bad too even if it isn't technically price gouging but, this is really getting into semantics. And no, I'm not upset because I can't/won't buy one of the knives in question. There are plenty of knives in the $100~$400 range that will far surpass what the vast majority of us use in our daily lives. Supply and demand in addition to inflation and currency exchange rates affects price and availability as much as anything today as well.
 
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(Edit: for what it's worth I do believe a janitor or cashier deserves the same lifestyle as your sister. Those jobs suck and should be more appreciated.)
 
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