Knife show bringing ‘big name’ to Radcliff

Sandy and Ken Griffey direct Bear & Son Cutlery, a major domestic knife manufacturer based in Jacksonville, Alabama. They will attend Red Hill Cutlery’s annual knife show and sale Saturday at the Radcliff retailer’s new location. 

Ken Griffey Jr. has a global fan following and is known as one of the best at what he does. But don’t expect any batting tips if you attend his personal appearance Saturday in Radcliff.

The Griffey visiting Red Hill Cutlery’s Harvest in the Bluegrass Show and Sale is the 64-year-old president of Bear & Son Cutlery who is making a return trip to the annual event.

“We like coming up there,” Griffey said. “Their customer base are very nice people.”

He said he’s looking forward to seeing the show’s new venue. The Basham family, which owns the business, relocated Red Hill Cutlery last fall to 92 Bourbon Trace in Radcliff just off Joe Prather Highway. The operation moved immediately after last September’s show at its original site off North Logsdon Parkway.

Referring to knives as “man’s oldest tool,” Griffey said he’s always had an interest in collecting pocketknives, which he credits to his grandfather who gave him his first knives.

Frequently, Griffey recalls, he’d cut himself or have it confiscated by his mother for one reason or another “and he’d go buy me another one.”

Griffey said when his parents were downsizing their home, his mother brought him two shoeboxes of knives that she had taken over the years.

More than 40 years ago, Griffey began working professional in the knife-manufacturing business. He and some other investors started Bear MGC Cutlery by acquiring a bankrupt plant. In 1999 after a multi-use knife it created was purchased by the makers of the Swiss Army Knife, the other owners retired and the renamed Bear & Son became a family-owned operation. His wife, Sandy, and son, Matt, play major roles.

“I’m Papa Bear, she’s Momma Bear and he’s Baby Bear,” Griffey said. “He’s 40 now and doesn’t like it when I say that.”

A company history says the Bear name was selected because a bear is the king of North American animals and the company is based in Alabama where legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant still is revered.

Bear & Son’s plant and distribution center employs 80 people.

Griffey said his duties on site mean he only has time to do about three consumer shows per year. He said he’ll bring along products the company is about to introduce and use the interaction with customers as market research for additional products.

Its niche in the industry includes limited edition special products such as the Halloween series of knives produced especially for Red Hill Cutlery. The 2020 Halloween knives will be introduced at Saturday’s knife show.

The 19th annual event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

As for the Hall of Fame baseball hero who shares his name, the knifemaker says being Ken Griffey Jr. has its advantages. He’s received a few upgrades on car rentals and hotel rooms thanks to reservation clerks who were baseball fans.

Ben Sheroan can be reached at 270-505-1764 or bsheroan@thenewsenterprise.com.

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