Randy Tagg

Cougar Ridge Knife Co.

3348 U.S. Highway 101 N., Gearhart

Knife collectors and traders looking for quality, rarity and fair prices have a place to go on the Oregon coast, thanks to a small shop in Gearhart dedicated to the craftsmanship of a great teacher, Tiny Spencer, and his young student, Nick Tagg. The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. For more information, call (503) 738-9812.

What do you do?

"My nephew (Nick Tagg) is making knives now out of fossilized walrus tusk purchased from licensed artifact dealers who trade with Alaska natives. He learned his trade from Tiny Spencer, a master knife maker, taxidermist, quide/outfitter and Alaska bush pilot who lived here part-time and passed away in August. Nick custom designs, shapes and hand sands the blades to a mirror finish. The walrus tusk handles are beautifully shaped. We also carry quality knives by Buck and Kershaw and many other well known brands. Collectors, dealers and rendezvous enthusiasts come here to trade in knives, axes and old tools."

How did you get into this?

"I opened this shop for my 23-year-old nephew Nick. To help him find direction, I introduced him to Tiny Spencer. They fast became friends and Tiny became his mentor and teacher. I am really proud of what Nick is doing and this shop is for him. I got interested in knives myself through a friend, Mark Steinman, but it was just a hobby. Then I saw that there was a need in this area for really good knives so I have been selling them for two years now at the Camp Rilea flea market. A lot of camping, hunting and fishing folks want knives, and their wives wanted kitchen cutlery. About 50 percent of my business is with kitchen cutlery."

What is your volume of business?

"The economy scared us to death, but we opened here five months ago. It has taken off like wildfire. When I was selling exclusively at the market, I could do about $1,000 in business a month. Since opening here we have been doing $6,000 to $7,000 a month. Our inventory has gone from 4,000 to 60,000 items. For a little knife store I think that is pretty good."

Are you doing anything special because of the economy?

"There are things that are not in our control but one thing we can control is our attitude. I have always been optimistic and I think that helps. We had a free barbecue for the public and had Chuck Buck, with Buck knives come and sign product. Buck is a story of survival in this economy and I thought if he can do it so can I. I am having another free barbecue for the public Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Representatives from Kershaw Knives will be here to talk with customers."