Don't want to cause a panic, but the Sword Industry is under attack...
One of my responsibilities to the sword community is to do all I can to keep you all informed and do what I can to support both sword makers and collectors..
Unfortunately, the industry - which has been in a steady decline since around 2010, is taking a serious turn for the worst, and seems to be under assault from several different directions all at once..
A perfect storm if you will..
in this post
on the SBG forums, we see a Malaysian company selling Parangs is now been unable to ship swords internationally - and more and more carriers are simply refusing to ship them, classifying them as 'dangerous weapons'. But in that post, you can see many other countries have suddenly been rejecting sword imports without rhyme or reason, and in our own case, we have experienced the exact same thing and the number of countries we can ship to has been shrinking quite dramatically..
The recent BCI shipment also was stalled suddenly in the Philippines, after 25 years of shipping swords all over the world, they were suddenly told they needed a permit for these 'dangerous weapons', but were not told what permit they needed or how to get it, and it took nearly 2 months to find a solution.. (and they have sold well at all, so are being liquidated)..
At the same time, China recently banned all domestic shipping of swords within China - effectively decimating the local market, and as 90% of the customers for Jian and Dao in Longquan are Chinese, and the fallout for international collectors of Jian and Dao is now very much up in the air..
In the UK, they have doubled down on swords and blades yet again as seen in t
And then there is YouTube - first is was google adsense that banned advertising for swords, then Facebook (it is probably only a matter of time before they decide that pages dedicated to swords are 'unacceptable') and then this..
(Yes, the channel has been re-instated due to a public outcry - but the fact that the whole channel was taken down so suddenly is quite disturbing).
And to make matters worse for sword sellers, not only are they now losing the ability to ship swords internationally, but sales overall are pretty much dead in the water. Quite a few good sellers now seem to be on rather shaky ground. Take a look at Kult of Athena for example - almost all the swords in their new products section are sub $100 from Deepeeka..
Why? Well, you would need to ask them, but my guess is because all the usual stuff simply isn't selling anymore..
In our own case, we have never had so many good offers fall flat - indeed, I recall a time when readers of the digest used to support us by taking advantage of the sales and specials we offer..
But this year, I can honestly say that no matter how good the deal is we offer - and despite the digest now having around 16,000 subscribers - we are lucky if we make one sale from our best offer.. (I don't hold out much hope for this months special offer, even below cost does not generate sales).
And all of this, it is simply not sustainable..
In the short term, Christmas sales may keep things going until the end of the year. But if this trend continues, the industry and many sellers will be in some serious trouble by this time next year..
Clearly, there are some nasty rumblings occurring - and who really knows exactly how it will all pan out..
I will do my best to keep you all updated of the developments as they happen.
In the meantime though, here are some temporary workarounds and suggestions for members of the community..
First, for International Sword Buyers - one shipping method that still seems to be working, at least for now, is using the services of a freight forwarding company such as
those listed on our site here.
These companies are used to dealing with all kinds of legal but curious shipments, and because of their relative size and clout, can often arrange a shipment where all other methods fail. As a bonus, they are actually often CHEAPER than standard shipping methods due to their bulk buying power. And, assuming the swords are not in violation of any local laws, their agents can often get shipments unstuck by overzealous customs officers (many of whom just ASSUME swords are prohibited, when usually that is not he case).
Secondly, for all sword buyers - now is definitely the time to pick up more 'exotic' swords. Manufacturers are on the whole not really willing to take any risks with 'micro-niche' sword types - and so will tend to fall back on what they know sells (such as Katana and Longswords, single handed medieval swords tend to be outsold by longswords 5 to 1, and anything more unique, seems invisible these days).
In our own case, our recent shipment of swords that I personally wanted to bring to the market has fallen completely flat and basically we will not be re-ordering those models (indeed, we are about to liquidate them, see later in this newsletter for our final below wholesale cost special offer).
Thirdly, at least for now, it is a good idea to support your favorite local sword sellers who contribute to the community as a whole. Buying from eBay sellers based in China often seems like a good deal, but they rarely deliver exactly what was promised
as we discuss in this article.
Additionally, it is possible that the Chinese government may suddenly decide to ban sending single swords outside of China like they did without warning to the domestic market - and the risk of these sellers going out of business and stalling you until you cannot get a refund is a very real concern.
In our case, we can overcome this with our forge direct line and custom katana, etc that also come direct from China by having them sent to a US warehouse, something that the part time eBayers cannot.
Likewise, while buying second hand swords is a smart move normally, right now with sales for all sellers of new swords at record lows, the secondary sword market is actually really hurting them, and the worst case scenario is that some of them will start to go out of business, and the secondary sword market will be all that is left..
Finally, and this goes for everyone, be careful about what you say with regards to using swords for self defense or 'gory' discussions on the forums, Facebook and other social media. It seems many legislators are just itching for an excuse to wipe out the industry, and while we all know that sword collectors are responsible people who love swords for their rich history, self development from the martial arts and for innocent 'geeky' reasons, we need to be extra careful about how we present ourselves to the outside world. Believe you me, the authorities see what we post, and so we need to be extra vigilant to present ourselves in a positive light.
One last note, while things are bad - the sky is not falling and while a shakeup is in progress - if we all stick together we can overcome it and we will find a way. Yes, some types of swords will probably disappear for a while, and yes, some sword sellers will likely go under (we have noticed a trend of falling customer service levels in the industry because many sellers find it hard to take losses now when before they would).
But if you follow the recommendations above for now, it will at least provide a short term solution while the dust settles.
The responsible ownership of swords is our birthright and an important continuation of centuries old traditions. Let's do our bit to keep it alive, not just for us, but for future generations. As a world without swords, is colorless, grey and oppressive - and we need to do all we can to preserve the hobby that we love.
I will keep you all posted of any further developments.