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For 44 years Plaza Cutlery was located in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa California. This was very significant for the knife industry as "SCP" is one of the top five shopping destinations in the world. The "The Who's Who" of retailers are all located there!
Management was asked a number of times, "why the knife shop is here"?, and their reply was "they are family". We appreciate the support of the Segerstom family as well as everyone at South Coast Plaza!
My father Del after leaving the Marine's in World War 2 went home to Detroit then left for Seattle to stay with his Aunt and Uncle. While there he worked in a hardware store where he was noticed by a salesman. He set up warehouse work for him in San Francisco where he worked his way up to be an on the road salesman for Denham, Carrigan Hardware. He meet and married my mother Lois while there, and I came along a year and half later. While on the road, dad meet Bill Lewis who was the salesman for WR Case and Sons Cutlery. Bill was retiring and recommended dad to replace him. Usually that is a good thing but Bob Farkinson the General Manager of Case did not like Bill as it was the worst territory they had. Dad not knowing that flew to Bradford to give his pitch and Bob told him later he did not plan to hire him on Bills recommendation. Dad took the territory from the worst to number 2 and 3. He did make the most money as he could sell kitchen cutlery and scissors which paid a higher commission. As things were changing with Case in the early 1970's, dad had asked me about buying a hardware store or opening a cutlery store. I was stationed in Germany in the US Army, but told him I would help before heading to college. Well that never happened. I loved the knife industry and custom end of it thanks to our friend Don Richards. Unfortunately dad passed in August of 1976 after a long battle with cancer. Mom took his job with Case for a few years and I ran the store as I felt dad would want it run. My brother Russ also came to work for us later that year. We set sales records for sales per square foot in South Coast Plaza. Some knife companies would report Plaza Cutlery's sales in their board meeting and before we knew it, Hoffritz switched to shopping malls and even right above us in SCP. Shavers world switched to Cutlery World and other accounts of my fathers started small chains and some independent stores.
A number of years later with the help of Berned Dressler of Messermister Cutlery and Brian Swanson the former Buck Knives salesman we started NICA (National Independent Cutlery Association) which was something dad had mentioned to me. We had 165 stores at one time. Unfortunately with all things it came to an end. The internet did a fair amount of damage, but also some stores felt they did not need it. Even the man who filled in as my best man did not join and I was very disappointed as he was good friends with my father. But NICA did great for a long time. I also started the California Custom Knife Show in 1981. Pam and I went to a new show in Glendale and the guy took the money but never advertised it. I was so pissed I started our own show for my friends. It influenced a number of other shows also.
Most people do not know I also ran the youth roller hockey for a local rink. When I was asked, I said no as I knew nothing about it. Sarah asked me, "do you want the owners son to run it?" Had no choice then. I ran it as a dictator ship which they agreed too. After a few seasons I had rinks from around the country calling me to see how I was getting so many kids to play. Wayne Gretzky did that, but I did not let the parents run it. Eventually I resigned as I was to busy in the shop.
We are very thankfully for everyone's support over the years. Both boys worked in the shop, and know what work is, and are fine young men. We had a lot of good people over the years help us, and am still in contact with some. Am very grateful for all of them.
I was honored in 2018 to be inducted into the "Blade Magazine Hall of Fame" with my good friend Phil Lobred who had passed away. I wish it was dad, but I know I did what I could to make him proud, and I look at it as it is both of us. Also am still married to the girl I was afraid to ask out in SCP. She was asked out a number of times that week, but I was the only one she gave her number to! Has been a great ride, and love having Pam at my side! Thank you!
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