Have you ever wondered about that beautiful, shiny aluminum Value Van parked in the center of the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings? Tom loved it so much that he popped his head in the door on our first visit years ago, and come to find out, there’s a pretty cool workshop inside, and an even cooler guy!
We’ve loved getting to know Craig over the years as we’ve brought our items to his mobile sharpening van at the Market, and we have a feeling you’ll be digging something out to be sharpened this weekend after reading a bit more about him. We had a blast chatting more about the benefits of regular sharpening, and loved hearing about his connection to his customers and their sentimental items, too. Get to know Craig below!
Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Craig Richard but most people know me as “Mr. Edge” or “the knife sharpener”. I’m originally from Long Island and relocated to the area in the early 90’s. I was tired of the “rat race” and didn’t think I would ever get ahead by living on the Island. After moving up here, I worked for several years in retail as a butcher but wasn’t a fan of working for someone else. Becoming a sharpener was a natural choice because as a butcher I always sharpened my own knives. I knew there was a need for a sharpener in the area and decided to take the leap and start my own small business. Over the past 20+ years I’ve been fortunate enough to raise a family, build a business and become part of a great community and have never regretted my choice of putting down roots in this area.
Let’s talk about your awesome van! What’s the story behind it?
Everyone knows and loves my old school ride! It is a 1978 GMC Value Van and I’ve had it for a really long time. I’ve probably replaced just about every part in it and can’t see myself ever getting rid of it.
The mobile sharpening service is so great and convenient! How did that come to be?
I started doing mobile sharpening to expand my business. As a child I remember the van coming around the neighborhood ringing the bell and everyone running out to get their stuff sharpened - sort of like the ice cream man. Nowadays the focus is on protecting the environment so I figured people would be receptive to the idea - plus saving money is always a bonus.
Are there any dos and don’ts about sharpening folks should know about?
This is a great question and I’m glad you asked because most people don’t know how to properly care for items that can potentially be sharpened. A few things off the top of my head are: never put your knives in the dishwasher because the heat will dull the blade and crack the handles. Using glass cutting boards to cut on is another big “NO” because they can cause chips in the steel and dull your knives. The biggest “Do” is to take good care of your stuff, whatever it is, because by doing so your items will last a whole lot longer. Taking care of your tools and equipment will extend their life, reduce waste and can save you a whole lot of money in the long run.
What types of things do you sharpen?
I can sharpen anything that has an edge…..scissors, knives, kitchen tools, garden tools, chain saw blades, hand saws, circular saw blades, clipper blades, surgical instruments and so much more. If it can be sharpened chances are I have done it in the past and can do it again. If you aren’t sure it can be sharpened bring it to me and I will let you know.
What’s one of the most unique things you’ve sharpened?
I’ve sharpened a lot of unique things over the years. I would have to say the most unique are medical instruments. Most people don’t even realize they can be sharpened but really who wants to have a surgeon use a dull instrument?
What do you love the most about your job?
One of the most gratifying parts of sharpening is restoring something to its original glory. Lots of people bring me sentimental items that have been handed down to them from loved ones who have since passed. They all have their own personal story and I love when my customers share them. From knives that have always been used to carve the Thanksgiving turkey, the saw that has cut the Christmas tree down every year since before they could remember, Grandpa’s knife from World War II, the pair of sewing scissors that were Mom’s, to Dad’s favorite hunting knife - I get a lot of satisfaction knowing I’m helping to keep those memories alive.
How did you become a regular vendor at the Glens Falls Farmers Market? What do you enjoy the most about it?
I joined the Glens Falls Farmers Market about seventeen years ago. At first the board was leary about letting me join because they thought my machines would be too noisy but they decided to take a chance on me and I turned out to be very popular. I’ve been a regular vendor ever since. The thing I love the most about the market is the people - both the vendors and my customers. I’ve known these people for close to twenty years and consider them my second family.
Do you travel to other locations as well?
I sure do. I am at the Saratoga Farmers Market at High Rock on Wednesdays from 3-6 pm and at the Canal Street Marketplace in Fort Edward on Thursdays from 4-7 pm. When I’m not at a Farmers Market you can find me at my shop in Gansevoort.
How does one get their stuff sharpened? Do you have to make an appointment?
You don’t need an appointment to get things sharpened at the Market - just bring your stuff and drop it off. If you can’t get to the market just call the shop (518) 793-6724. You can also check out our website here.
How long does it take?
The amount of time it takes to sharpen something depends on the item. For instance, knives and scissors usually take a few minutes but chains saws, lawn mower blades, and clipper blades take longer. Some things I have to take back to the shop but in general most items can be sharpened by the time you have finished doing your shopping at the market.
Thanks so much, Craig! See you at the market!
P.S. Check out another story from our At the Market series here.