It's absolutely amazing how things work out sometimes! Take this next story for example.
For years now, pretty much from when I first began carving, I've been wanting to get some Flexcut tools. I read about them on Wetcanvas every now and then and got curious. I love the look and shape of the handle; it's organic and most appealing, esthetically. I love the carbon blades; I know all about carbon steel and its virtues. But, as with all quality tools, they are pricey.
Recently though, I sold a print. And,
a) I always use the money from my print sales for printmaking supplies
b) I was in the market for a wide almost flat scoop chisel (for clearing away large areas of block)
But I couldn't find one locally, not even at Lee Valley Tools where they have all kinds of wonderful and amazing things. I decided to visit the Flexcut website.
They, no surprise, make just the thing I want. So the first thing I did was to look for local dealers. There are several listed, mostly different House of Tools outlets, and, all but one, all on Vancouver Island and therefore an expensive two-hour ferry ride away. The only one listed for the mainland, also a House of Tools, told me they were now KLM Tools and didn't carry Flexcut anymore. Can you say: HUGE disappointment?
Specially because by this point, I'd made up my mind that I HAD to have that chisel. There was no turning back; I'd already seen myself happily carving masterpieces with it. (With such a chisel, how could they not be masterpieces?!) I set about ordering directly from Flexcut.
On their site, the chosen chisel is $16.95 US. I figured the Canadian dollar is pretty high right now so my cost should end up reasonably close. Right! It seems that reasonably close in this case is $40 US when it's all said and done:
$17 for the chisel
$15 for shipping
$7 for brokerage fees
Brokerage Fees! What the hell! I don't pay brokerage when I order from McClain's or Daniel Smith do I? Or maybe I do and it's hidden in the shipping so it's not obvious. In any case, I can't justify spending more on shipping charges than I do on the thing I'm ordering. It doesn't seem right.
So, back to the Flexcut dealers page to consider the Vancouver Island possibilities. Three of them. Only one with a web page; that's the one I chose. I reasoned that, even if they didn't have the chisel I was after, they could maybe order it for me and would at least have some kind of deal in place where brokerage would be covered off as a blanket thing. And, even if they shipped from the Island, maybe the fees wouldn't be so steep. I had it all figured out.
Imagine my surprise though, when I landed on the web page and saw they actually have a location here on the mainland as well, ridiculously close to where we live. They have, in fact, been there about five years and I never knew it. And, not only do these guys stock a great selection of Flexcut tools, they have an incredible array of carving supplies in general. I found exactly what I wanted along with another V-gouge and a honing kit that's gone into the "get wrapped for X-mas" bin.
Amazing! Right under my nose, all along...
I can't wait to take the new girls for a test run. Aren't they beautiful???