Business Journal McHenry County - July 9 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sharpening business finds niche in Crystal Lake
The industry of knife and scissor sharpening might bring to mind an image of a man pushing a big wooden cart down a cobblestone street, ringing a bell, calling out “Knives and scissors sharpened” as a stone wheel hums away in the background.

Although those peddlers are long gone today, the art of what they did remains. These days, customers with sharpening needs go beyond the kitchen and include master carpenters, rental store owners, barbers, beauticians, dog groomers, and hardware store owners.

Crystal Lake resident Brian Kelly started answering those needs when he began his own part-time sharpening business as a home-based enterprise five years ago. His day job is as a salesman for a large chemical company.

So far, he says that he is doing well just on word-of-mouth referrals.

“I spent $20,000 to buy the sharpening equipment,” he said. “Then I constructed an addition to my house for a workshop.”

And BK’s Sharpening Service was born.

It’s a business that has been growing since he was encouraged by his father. For 30 years, Donald Kelly has run a sharpening business in New York, the Sharpening Shed, and Brian Kelly says that his father told him to take advantage of the big need for sharpening.

“You’d be surprised once you start doing sharpening how many people want to use your services,” Brian Kelly said.

O’Grady’s Barber Shop was one who has been a steady customer from the start.

“He sharpens all our barber clippers, his service is excellent, and he’s ‘Johnny on the spot’ on turnaround,” said Julia

O’Grady, owner and operator of O’Grady’s Barber Shop.

Barbers, beauticians and pet groomers, “really need this service,” Kelly said.

“They want their cutting and trimming tools sharpened and returned quickly,” he explained. “The scissors to trim a dog can cost $300-$400 a pair. If you drop them and they get bent, you’ve got a problem.”

Kelly repairs and straightens tools as well, said pet groomer Pattee Williams of Patee’s Pet Paw-Lor.

“We use special shears and often need clipper repairs,” Williams said. “Brian does it all, and he does it well. He’s very thorough.”

For Don Thennes, owner and operator of the Ed’s Rental stores in Algonquin, Crystal Lake and McHenry, BK’s Sharpening Service handles his hedge trimmers, circular saw blades, and brush chipper blades.

“Customers drop off their blades for him,” Thennes said. “He’s very conscientious about returning them on time. And his work, well, he’s just a very skilled kind of craftsman.”

Master carpenters make up a big part of Kelly’s business as well.

“Master carpenters spend $200-$300 on an individual saw blade, and they need it in working order all the time with exact precision, and I restore those blades to their original sharpness,” he said.

For lawn and garden implements, sharpening prices start at $6.50. Electric hedge trimmers start at $20, handsaws at $9.50, barber and beautician shears at $11.50, and household scissors and kitchen knives range in price from $3.50 to $12.

As a small but reliable entrepreneur, BK’s Sharpening Service is updating the image of the knife sharpener and confirming that the sharpening business is alive and well locally.

“If you don’t like my sharpening, you don’t pay,” Kelly said, “but give me a chance to repair what you don’t like, and I guarantee I’ll have the item back to you in 10 days or less in top-notch condition.”


Copyright © 2009 Business Journal. All rights reserved.

Published in Crystal Lake, Illinois, USA, by Shaw Suburban Media.