Nuclear Medicine Technologist. You’re probably wondering how those two worlds collided, and we’ll
get there, but first let’s talk about Tokushu.
What are we?
Let’s start with what we are not. We are not your Amazon kitchen knife store solution. We offer
expertise and an experience that only real people can give you, not a content management system.
Tokushu Knife is an online retailer specializing in the sale of high-end Japanese kitchen knives and
other hand forged cutlery and tools such as whetstones, handmade custom handles, strops and more. I
know probably every business owner says this, but any of our customers can attest, one of our biggest
focuses is delivering exceptional customer service and providing affordable knife maintenance. Our
customers are the reason we are here. They are the reason we as a business survived in more ways than
one through the pandemic, we do not take that lightly. Either myself or our in-house wizard of a
sharpener, warehouse manager and website curator - yes, he has many titles - Zach Peters will always
be happy to help you with a purchase or even just an inquiry.
We’re just over here, not to be philosophical, but spreading positive energy and karma. We believe in
paying it forward, that if by some small token of spending time helping you choose your first or
fifteenth kitchen knife, you are happier because of it you will then spread that happiness into the world.
You can tell when businesses are profit focused. You see less of the faces of the company and more ads,
more stale computerized type posts. Zach Peters goes live on Facebook quite frequently to humanize
the process of changing handles, fixing the tip of a knife, showing new arrivals, or just to chat and be a
good human. That is how we connect with our customers. We were once customers ourselves and
looked for reputable Japanese kitchen knife retailers. Now we are that very retailer we’ve been
We are born from the motto for customers by customers. It isn’t because we own and run Tokushu that
we are not customers. We are customers, of many other worldly daily products we depend on, and that
is why we recognize the importance of positive customer experiences. We are gung-ho passionately
obsessed by what we do, and we want that to be tangible, to be felt even if through a computer screen.
We do not know everything about everything, but we certainly chase the answers when we have
unanswered questions. It isn’t satisfactory for us to just rely on the hard-earned reputations of the knife
smiths we deal with, or worse spread inaccurate information about a knife smith just to generate some
profit and sales. Our offerings are the real deal! For example, we work with a Japanese brand of knives
that has over 700 years of blacksmithing experience and channels that history into phenomenal kitchen
knives. Some of you know with a reputation like that, that yes we are in fact talking about the Moritaka
Family. They are on their 30th generation of smiths and the resulting works of functional art that come
out of their shops cannot be expressed with words. Looks like you’ll just have to try one yourselves.
How did we get here?
Be a doctor, lawyer or join the army, the classic mentality of how apparently easy it is to be happy in
life right? Wrong! I did initially follow a traditional path: go to school, get a degree, happily ever after.
I do have a successful career working as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist at a hospital, but is that all
there is to life?
It is always when you think you have figured it out that life throws you a curveball. In this case the
curveball wasn’t mine alone but one unfortunately all global citizens have had to deal with, the
COVID-19 pandemic. It hit hard, I went dark into a dark hole and the doldrum period commenced. Yet
in that dark hole is where I truly found myself. Funny enough, for the past six years I had been
sharpening and sold knives as a hobby. Despite the overwhelming feelings of dread that the pandemic
had brought with it, I found myself in the absence of the Tony I knew, to be sharpening as a way of
meditation during stressful times. All imagery of who I was at that time was somehow lost. But the
sharpening and passion for knives remained. Perhaps it was indicative of something more?
It was time to reinvent myself. With the support of my amazing wife, I took a risk and decided I
wanted to be my own boss and start a business. The fantasy quickly became real and with it all the
phantasmic ideologies of what it means to be your own boss went out the door. I realized it meant
having to work 16-hour days even outside of a normal work week. I realized that when I say my wife is
amazing, I mean that x100 because the amount of support she showed cannot be paid back. The amount
of gratitude I have for her cannot be adequately expressed. She let me chase my dreams, while picking
up my slack for household chores and what not for two years.
But eventually that hard work paid off and the good karma we exuded paid back in dividends. The trust
our customers had in my small online shop meant I could hire sharpening wizard Zach Peters, to
delegate some of the work to him so that I could grow a different side of the business. Adding him to
Tokushu was an excellent business decision on so many levels. I may be passionate and find
sharpening meditative, but Zach Peters brings that to the next level. He hand sharpens on whetstones
and creates some of the sharpest edges I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Giving effortless
cutting a whole new meaning. We are proud to offer his sharpening services at a very affordable
price on any knife you ever buy from Tokushu or you already own
Challenges of being an online kitchen knife retailer
Where does one start, when it is all a challenge initially. Probably the most obvious challenge is the
hardship in dealing with a supply of handmade items. Keyword, handmade. Humans have certain
psychological and physical limits. If a maker is capable of making 50 knives a week, and there is a
demand for 100 knives, it will take 2 weeks. The math is simple. But now remember, there’s a backlog
of orders, the demand is actually 1000 knives and there’s dozens of knife retailers across the globe that
want them. So yeah, that’s the biggest challenge. Being able to be properly stocked with handmade
kitchen knives that our customers want while navigating the realities of product timeline creation and
global demand is a doozy. An artist cannot be rushed. Nor can our prized knife smiths.
In Japanese culture, when one creates an item, a part of them is imbued into that item. It is the idea that
the product carries a piece of the creator within, also called ‘Tsukumogami’, tools with a spirit. The
Japanese are perfectionists and will commit a whole lifetime to learning to master one thing. With this
type of approach, you cannot rush such a process. But as a businessman who wants these tools to sell to
others, it means I need to sometimes forecast and item plan anywhere from 6 months to over 2 years
into the future despite never having a guarantee that the items may come. Limited supply, handmade,
that is the nature of the game.
Those that have been in the Japanese kitchen knife collecting game for a while know this too well. As
they chase rare knives, unicorns as we call them and are easily prepared to wait 5-10 years sometimes
for one knife. The waitlist is that long, and sometimes it is just one knife smith in Japan that knows the
one technique the entire world is after. Let this be a warning to both those considering opening an
online kitchen knife retail shop or to those wanting to stick around collecting knives for a while,
patience is key!
OK Tony so there are challenges, but what about advice to those that want to be like you?
Let’s break it down in as helpful tips as I can, with bullet points.
1. Successful business isn’t about luck.
2. You’ll never truly realize how much hard work goes behind the scenes to make it ‘appear’ like it
is easy to run. Don’t misinterpret looks easy with IS easy.
3. You’re unlikely to make money right away, so don’t jump in headfirst if your thirst is for
money. And it definitely won’t be easy money even IF money is made.
4. The prices on an online kitchen knife store, reflect market price for materials which is what the
smiths consider, shipping, warehouse, cost of running the business and only THEN margin of
5. Running your own business will be at the very least ten times more difficult than just going to
your stable hour, stable pay job elsewhere. Don’t start a business looking for a quick fix to your
problems. It will take sustained effort and sacrifice to make it successful.
6. The margin of profit from a single knife won’t pay for the month’s electricity bill. Most of the
time you may be selling just enough to keep your head above water. When you do make more
money than enough just to sustain the business, typically you need to reinvest that into your
capital to make website improvements, take a risk and order a new line, hire another staff
member to make your working hours more manageable, etc.
If reading some of these pieces of advice doesn’t scare you, then you’re probably on the right track. I
am not trying to scare you, rather have you learn from some of the mistakes I had not considered.
Tokushu is not successful because of luck. It is successful because sleepless night after sleepless night
was spent investing in my company to ensure it thrives in the direction I wanted it to. It doesn’t happen
on its own. If you are willing to put in the grit to make it successful. To put in more effort than anyone
else who doesn’t understand why you’re so obsessed with high quality kitchen tools, then I can’t wait
to hear your success story when we meet at Blade Show or another of the many great conventions out
Founder and owner of Tokushu Knife