Need some convincing about why scythes are a worthwhile investment?

Bladerunners: the little old lady of the scythe retail world.

Recently, Slovakian-born Canadian scything guru Peter Vido made the following comments on the new scythe forums:

I recall when going to the market with my mother how I disliked the loud-voiced vendors with a crowd of buyers around them, and was instead drawn to one of the shy and forlorn old ladies sitting in the background with a few eggs or two chunks of cheese in their baskets. I always wanted my mom to buy from them rather than those ‘stealing the show’. At less than 10 years old I was too young to conceptualize my preferences, but they turned out to establish a pattern of who I was to become as I grew up.

 

Eventually I learned what similar to the loud-voiced market vendor tendencies have done for (or rather subtracted from) the common good. Very few commercial ventures appear to avoid the lure. Fortunately, there are at least a few exceptions of the opposite approach when it comes to those promoting the use of scythes AND also selling the tool. As an exemplary example, Bladerunners is a shining jewel in this latter respect.

lolAw, shucks Peter, you’re too kind. You can have our eggs and cheese any day, and we’d even trim off the rough edges for you. We might rustle around in our petticoats and find something shiny for you to take home as well.

Jokes aside, and at risk of subjecting Peter to the disillusionment of seeing his little old lady overturn her basket, jump onto it and start screaming at the top of her lungs, it is nice to have some recognition. To be fair, though, this business is more like a hobby for us, since we both have day jobs, so perhaps we can “afford” to not be hardcore marketers.

How much like a hobby? Well, I did the books recently and on current projections the “business” might start paying us a return on our investment in 2024. Maybe when that happens, Buck Rogers will buy us a beer.

If we ever get to the point where we’re making serious money from this show, perhaps the temptation to cut corners or over-promote our wares might kick in. But I doubt it. One of my IT business promises is “you will not be subjected to the assumption that you can be ‘taken for a ride’ just because you’ve requested something that involves a computer”, and this here scythe endeavour stems from the same attitude. I’m also lucky enough to be in this business with a good mate who is a man of principles and integrity – when Tony and I disagree about anything on the Bladerunners front, it’s always about how best to meet our mutual “good products and service” aims. Indeed, if anything, Tony’s even more the shy and forlorn old lady when it comes to his intense dislike of grandstanding, which is why you’re usually hearing from me.

There’s no magic recipe; we just try, and enjoy, doing our best to deliver the service we like to receive; our orders are typically shipped within a business day or two after receiving them – because we remember how excited we were when we placed our first scythe orders – and we love hearing back from our customers and are always happy to give some pointers if required.

Of course, critical readers will have noted that we’ve only been given a ‘shining jewel’ endorsement in respect to keeping self-interest at arm’s length from our service; there are certainly vendors out there with more, and wider, experience than ours, but based on the feedback we’re getting from new and seasoned mowers alike, the products and service are holding their own.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to recognise Peter’s input and “clear the air” of recent innuendo I’ve witnessed in the online community. In the kinds of niche communities that develop around otherwise arcane topics like scything, personality clashes seem to be inevitable, and there have been some suggestions that Peter’s input into the community is commercially motivated on behalf of his extended family. Beside the apparent incongruity of such claims in respect to a man whose family lives off the grid and strives to be self-sufficient to the extent of home-growing beeswax and tallow for their candlelight, and some of whose extended family made a trip to Nepal to introduce families there to scythes, as a more efficient, fossil-fuel-free form of harvesting which they could adopt entirely self-sufficiently thanks to training from the Vidos (rather than offering to sell them the tools direct or on commission), I can also attest to some personal experience of Peter’s almost self-sacrificial disregard for monetary matters.

When our first shipment of attachment rings arrived from Europe, I was dismayed to find that they didn’t fit our snaths. They were useless for our immediate purposes, due to a mix-up at the manufacturer’s end – we’d been sent the wrong size. So we purchased ten of them from another Australian retailer just to get us to the position where we could sell some complete rigs. When Peter heard about it, he engaged with the (non-English-speaking) manufacturer on our behalf, and sorted out a mutally-satisfactory resolution. Soon after, a package arrived from Canada: in addition to liaising with the manufacturer, Peter had, at his own expense, air-freighted dozens of his own attachment rings to us, free of charge.

And no, he doesn’t earn any commission from our activities.

So, from a couple of forlorn old ladies to another, thank you, Peter.