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Aug 2, 2013 08:51 AM

Should These Shuns Be Shunned?

Over the years I've seen various knife threads where people have extolled the virtues of Shun knives. Alton Brown even gave his Seal of Approval to a line of Shun knives. (Yes, I know he was paid, but he said he only endorsed things that he carefully vetted, and these met his criteria.) To be sure, all of their knives seem to command a premium price although, like most premium brands, no one ever pays the full rack rate.

That brings me to w00t. Shun knives regularly show up on w00t at steeply discounted prices. For example today there is a set of four steak knives in a bamboo presentation box. Alleged list price: $452. w00t price: $149.99. Similar sets at other online retailers range from $279.95 to $359.95.

I regularly see similarly discounted Shun's on w00t. There is never anything in the descriptions that say these are seconds or refurbished, or anything else that would indicate there anything but first quality.

You occasionally see second string knives from Henckels or Wustof for sale on the site, but never the high-end lines. So, what is it about the Shun's that show up on w00t that warrant firesale prices? I know that w00t buys overstocks and closeouts for much of what it sells. How would that factor in?

If I wish to add to my "High-Quality Knife Collection" should I grab one the next time I see one on w00t, or should they be, ahem, Shunned?

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  1. Well, Shun sometime comes up with funky knife design, as such these knives do not always sell well, and I believe this is the case for your Shun 4-piece Ultimate Steak Knife set. It is not of a normal shape.

    Shun sometime ago has the Rocking Chef knife:

    As you can see, it has a very unusual profile, and it quickly was on sale for a low price. You either like it, or you don't. If you like the rocking shape, then the low price make it a great buy. If you don't like the shape, then even $1 is too much.

    Edited: My guess is that these steak knives are not second. Rather, they have unusual profile and are not selling well.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Well, that particular batch has sold out and been replaced by an ice cream maker. Both useful in their own way, but hardly interchangeable. (Whatever happened to "One Deal, One Day"and the "Sold Out" sign until the next day?)

      When looking for comparisons, I found these at Amazon. They look to be the same knives, only in a black box instead of a bamboo one. Oh, and a price difference of $130.

      Anyway, do they have that many lines that bomb? As I said in the OP, Shuns show up quite frequently on w00t.

        1. re: al b. darned

          Yes, sometime it is nice to come up with a new successful products, but sometime it is nice to just generate excitement -- even if the product does not sell..

          For example, you can even see that in Henckels Damascus knives. They are not cheap, and I don't think a lot of people buy them, and I won't be surprised that Henckels loses money in making and marketing them, but they are great advertisements (cheaper than buying TV ads and probably more effective).

          Shun has new products every year, and that makes it exciting. My gut feeling tells me that these are not seconds, so if you like them, you should grab them next time.

      1. Shun makes a lot of knives with handles, blade shapes, grinds, etc. that are off the beaten path.  I've seen quite a number of Classics w/ metal handles and Onion models at places like Home Goods, TJ Maxx, etc.   Afaik, they were brand new / dead stock.