Story by Joshua Swanagon, Photos by Joshua Swanagon and Manufacturer
Ok, I’ll admit it, I have passed right by PVK Vegas on numerous occasions and had no idea. Nestled quietly in a small strip mall on the Las Vegas strip, it can be hard to spot. But, once you get inside, there is no doubt that you have entered nirvana. How have I been missing this all these years? So much time wasted. But it is time to make up for that.
I have always been one that is attracted to knife stores and can usually spot them a mile away. When I was in my teens, back in Colorado, there was a knife store in the local mall that I would go hang out in every day. I didn’t have any money to buy anything, but I sure did enjoy being in the presence of all that awesomeness on a daily basis.
So, it was a little hard for me to believe, or accept, that for the past couple years I have been walking right by what is perhaps one of the coolest knife shops on the planet.
I have known about PVK Vegas for a few years and have witnessed their massive presence in the knife industry. So, when I was asked to stop in and check out their operation, I was thrilled to do it.
Armed with their address, and the map on my phone, I walked the strip in search of this goliath of knifedom. Of course, the map was just to get me in the general vicinity. I really couldn’t think of any way I would miss a massive enterprise such as this. It wasn’t until I passed by it twice that I finally decided to zoom in a bit more on the map and see what I was missing.
As it turned out, it was in the small strip mall I was standing in front of. Once I realized it, I finally noticed the small sign hanging over the door that indicated I had arrived.
Walking inside, the store itself was about six feet wide and roughly thirty feet deep. Along one wall were glass display cases, filled with all manner of knives and other EDC fare. Running the length of the opposite wall was a pegboard, loaded down with fidget spinners, gift packages, lanyard beads, etc.
At the far end is the checkout counter – which also doubled as the gateway to the VIP room – manned by one of their incredibly friendly staff members.
While waiting for my appointment with Jeremiah Burbank, Owner and Operator, I decided to look around and snap some shots. This was not easy in a six-foot-wide room; five-foot-wide with the display cases.
The more I looked around, the more I noticed a bit of a trend. This was no ordinary knife store, and the knives featured in their display cases were no ordinary knives. Sure, they had knives that would be appealing to the novice knife user. But the bulk of their collection would allure the most experienced and knowledgeable knife collector.
They had autos, ballisongs, custom runs, fixed blades, folders and everything else you would expect a high-end store to have. Throughout the store I was seeing names like Bastinelli, Marfione, Protech, Jake Hoback, Liong Mah, Emerson, Microtech, Darriel Caston, WE, etc. Knives that command the attention of serious knife users.
Not only were there seriously cool knives, but they had just about every other EDC item you could think of. Knucks, tactical pens, Zippos, watches, high price flashlights, custom lanyard beads, mini toothpick crossbows (I’m still kicking myself for not picking one of these up for myself), coins, flasks, phone cases, etc. Seriously, I could go on for a while. All high end.
Armed with the American dream, Joshua Burbank opened the first PVK Massachusetts storefront. Whether he knew at the time what PVK would become or not, PVK quickly expanded to two storefronts. In 1998, with the rise of the internet and its expanded reach, Joshua decided to close his storefronts and take his operation online.
With the success of the online store, in 2013 Joshua decided to move the operation to New Hampshire. It was there he re-visited the brick-and-mortar model and opened another storefront, to run alongside his lucrative web presence.
Although things were looking good in New Hampshire, Joshua made the decision to move the business to Las Vegas, in 2015. By 2017 a space had become available on the Las Vegas Strip. So, they packed up the operation and moved to their current location. They now enjoy a bit of legend status as PVK Vegas.
While I was perusing the store, I kept spotting photos of faces I recognized. So, while speaking with Jeremiah, I took the opportunity to ask about the celebrity clientele that had apparently made PVK Vegas their knife store of choice.
Apparently, it all started when Post Malone stopped in and purchased a high-end piece of cutlery. He had no issue getting his photo with the guys and posting it. To their surprise, it wasn’t long after that, that Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith showed up looking to add to their personal collections.
From that time there have been other random appearances (including some that prefer to remain anonymous). However, Joe Perry, Steven Tyler and Johnny Depp have become somewhat regulars. But don’t expect to get a heads up, because it is always random and the guys at PVK have no advance notice. For security reasons.
Although PVK is a small family operation, they have a staff of very knowledgeable and friendly individuals on hand. Each member of the staff demonstrated the level of drive and flexibility that are required to be a part of the team at PVK. Each member of the team brings with them something special. Something that nourishes sparks in personalities and makes the team that much more eclectic.
While waiting for my appointment with Jeremiah, I had the opportunity to speak with a member of the staff. We spoke about some of the products on hand and other generalities. While we talked, I not only got the distinct impression that he really knew his stuff – about pretty much every product in the store – but was also very friendly and provided enjoyable conversation.
That can be a rare thing these days. Many places I go I see staff that seem like they don’t even want to be there. At PVK, all of the staff I met appeared to want to be there. It seemed like this was one of their favorite places to hang out. Almost a home away from home. And who can blame them? If I lived in Vegas, I would probably spend a good amount of my time there as well.
After Jeremiah was done with his meeting he came out and escorted me to the back of the store. As we walked behind the counter, we turned down a short corridor that looked much like any common corridor. That is, until we took another turn to the right.
Coming around the corner it was almost as if the gates of Heaven opened up and the choir of angles began to sing. I thought the storefront itself was cool, but the VIP room Jeremiah took me into was off the hook.
Intended for micro sales of their higher end knives –really higher end – the VIP room is a more intimate setting. It is designed for their more serious clients – as well as celebrities that would prefer a quieter setting. Lined with display cases full of collections of low number Microtechs, collectible Italian stilettos, Marfiones and other really high-end knives, this room is where the real magic happens.
But the VIP room isn’t for everyone, you have to have the right stuff. The right mention or name brand drop can help with entry and a flashy Rolex won’t hurt your chances. Some level of celebrity or notoriety of some sort will obviously also help your case.
You never know who you may see back there. While there a good friend of mine, Jason Johnson (@ProKnifeThrower) also stopped in and showed us some of his new wares. While visiting with Jeremiah, Jason and a members of the staff, I could see why they have the VIP room. It really was the ideal setting for true knife lovers to sit and chat. There is so much to look at that it never gets boring.
The relationship between knives and I go way back. My mother recently commented on how long I have been into knives. She mentioned how apropos it is that I now write about them regularly.
I have visited knife stores over the years that left me feeling lack luster by the time I left. Not all, but some. However, when I left PVK Vegas, I felt like that teenager who spent his days hanging out at the knife store in our local mall.
The knives displayed in the main showroom were cool enough to make the trip more than worth it. But the knives in the VIP room made me almost wish I lived in Vegas and could spend all my spare time there.
u have to stop in. If you are a knife lover, like me, you’ll be glad you did. Take some money with you though, you will have a hard time leaving empty handed. K&G
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Joshua Swanagon has studied survival in both urban and wilderness environments in Colorado and Michigan for most of his life, while also adding experience in harsher terrains abroad. He utilizes his experience and years of diverse martial arts and combatives training and real world application as a self-defense/combatives instructor, published freelance writer and Field Editor for various magazines in the fields of knives, survival, self-defense and tactical subject matters. Joshua also brings with him his years of experience as Editor of, and Subject Matter Expert for, Knives Illustrated Magazine.
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