There are very few retail stores or locations that become a destination unto themselves. Smoky Mountain Knife Works is one of those locations (along with Bass Pro Shops and Gatlinburg’s Arts and Crafts Community). People from all over the country make the big-blue-roofed building the first stop of their vacation as they enter Sevier County, the Gateway to the Smoky Mountains! Smoky Mountain Knife Works is one of the largest retail companies in the area (more than 80,000 square feet), but the building contains a lot more than just a shopping experience. Besides a store full of knives, knife accessories and kitchenware, the store contains one of the nation’s largest collections of trophy wildlife, indoor waterfalls, relics and artifacts of native people from around the world and employees that have more knowledge of the products they are selling than you will find anywhere else. It also houses the National Knife Museum.
The National Knife Museum is located upstairs above the showroom area as you come in the front doors. The exhibits have been gathered from the knife makers themselves and you will be able to view not only the knives but examples of the original advertising pieces that have become a true part of Americana. The museum covers the progress of the knife from early man using stone tools through the change to steel and beyond. If you are a knife enthusiast you will find yourself reading every word of text and examining each display. Spending hours going through the museum is not unheard of.
Even if you are not in the official museum area of the Knife Works, you will notice that the entire store is one huge collection. The walls are covered with displays covering every brand, every pattern, every kind of knife you could imagine. The showroom claims it is the largest knife collection in the world and we would have to say they are right. Besides the knives, you will be hard pressed to find a bigger or better exhibit of trophy wildlife from around the world. The exhibit covers animals from almost every continent, and patrons will have a hard time not being drawn to the animals covering the walls. You will also see some animals that don’t exist in nature like the elusive jack-a-lope. While you are there enjoying the displays, look for the moose with long-horn steer horns–another of their treasures and one of our favorites.
In the lower part of this something-for-everyone environment, you will find the relic area. Kevin Pipes, owner of Smoky Mountain Knife Works, has been a collector of Native American relics and artifacts since he was a child. Archeology is one of his passions and he has been able to collect artifacts from around the world, from east Tennessee to the Sahara Desert. In the artifact section of the Knife Works, you will see Neanderthal stone axes, arrowheads, head-pots from Peru and even crystal Clovis points – one of the most exotic raw materials used by stone-age man. This area was added, along with about 30,000 square feet of space, when the new addition opened in 2006.
Last, but certainly not least, the employees at the Knife Works provide great customer service. Whether you are ordering from one of the 325,000 catalogs they ship a month, ordering on the internet through www.smkw.com, or from the retail showroom, you will be treated like you are their top priority. And as far as their customer service goes the customer is their top priority. Smoky Mountain Knife Works employees roughly 250 employees, from their massive warehouse in Dandridge, TN to their call center, and those employees want to make sure that each customer has the best experience they can have. Knowledgeable and well trained, the staff at the Knife Works can answer any question you have about the products they sell. The employees receive training not only from the management at the knife works, some have been with the company for 20+ years, but also from the vendors. You will find that some of the employees sought employment at SMKW due to past visits and devotion to some of the brands they collect.
The Smoky Mountain Knife Works needs to be on your list of “Things to See & Do” in the Smokies. Whether you are staying in Pigeon Forge, Sevierville or Gatlinburg it is worth your time to find the big-blue-roof. Go in, learn some history, shop and gaze in wonderment at the exhibits on the walls. Your trip to the Smokies will be much richer for adding the Knife Works to your itinerary.