We’re foodies at the Hampton Bee, so we deeply appreciate a nice sharp chef’s knife (like our Wüsthof at home). But all that slicing, dicing and chopping can really dull a good blade. And THEN what?
This just in: A mobile knife-sharpening business called Sharp Hamptons, operated by Greg Hollmann of East Hampton, is cruising the Hamptons. ALERT: Do not confuse this pop-up with other ones you’ve been hearing about, like the Tesla mobile store or the Citröen van that sells French loafers. You’ll be in for a surprise.
But for all those with pointy things that need sharpening, here’s the deal. Hollmann makes house calls, but also sets up at three different locations on the weekends — Hayground School Farmers Market on Fridays, Springs Farmers Market on Saturdays and Country Gardens Agway on Sundays. He can sharpen your dull stuff — like knives, scissors or clippers — while you shop for a peach pie.
The back story: Hollmann worked for two decades in the photography business, commuting into the city two to three days a week, and on the side did some woodworking and knife sharpening. Last year, his health took a turn. He came down with a “little heart thing” and needed a stent. “I was sitting in the hospital and was trying to think what I could do instead of working for my boss,” he says. (Yup, we’ve all been there.)
Hollmann knew that knife-sharpening professionals, in days of yore, used to come down neighborhood streets, ringing a bell and stopping at homes to fix cooking utensils, gardening tools and anything else that needed sharpening. Why not revive such an old-world business?
To finesse his abilities, Hollmann took some classes at Nice and Sharp in Plainsboro, N.J., then invested about $10,000 in a solar-powered trailer (pictured above) and some knife-sharpening machinery. He launched Sharp Hamptons last November.
If you drop off your pointy stuff at one of the farmers markets, he charges $6 to sharpen blades less than six inches, while anything longer is generally $12. If he makes a house call, he charges $1.75 an inch. Hollmann also does regular sharpening work for some restaurants and — to his surprise — some veterinarians and dog and horse groomers. “It wasn’t something I was thinking of doing, but then I got five calls in a week,” he says, so he recently got more training on animal shears and trimmers.
For Hollmann, the biggest challenge of being a startup is getting the word out about his business. He relies on social media, particularly Facebook, and is hoping to raise his visibility at the summer markets. His trailer — emblazoned with the company’s name, thanks to the services of Ocean Graphics in East Hampton — is a bit of roving promotion, too.
In the off-season, Hollmann hopes to work with more restaurants. But for now, he’s enjoying talking to folks at the farmers markets, which he says is the best part of the job. “I love joking to old ladies, ‘I can do your ice picks, your machetes — all your serial killer needs,'” he says. Hollmann also likes hearing stories about where people got their blades, such as a recent customer whose knife was purchased in Japan (known for its quality knives) and customized with the owner’s initials. “It’s a pretty interesting business,” he says.
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