To understand why the Delavan Family and Plaza Cutlery won the BLADE Magazine 2016 Industry Achievement Award at this year’s BLADE Show, join us in a trip down memory lane.
It was over 42 years ago that Del and Lois Delavan, along with their son Dan, fresh out of the Army, opened Plaza Cutlery, a brick-and-mortar retail knife store in what is today the South Coast Plaza Shopping Resort in Costa Mesa, California.
A few years later Dan married Pam, and Pam took to knives as only a Delavan can. One of the keys to Plaza Cutlery’s remarkable longevity is that Dan and Pam have a passion for knives that is genuine—and the people who buy their knives and the vendors who work with Plaza Cutlery know it. It is a passion Dan and Pam come by honestly, a passion shared by Dan’s dad, Del, who became a Case salesman in 1959, and Dan’s mom, Lois. After Del passed away, it was Lois who took up the torch and became one of if not the first female traveling sales reps for Case. She helped run Plaza Cutlery until she, too, passed away just a few years ago.
Dan and Pam watched several generations of custom makers and a number of factory knife companies come and go. They started one of the oldest knife shows, the California Custom Knife Show, the venue where, in the early 1980s, BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame© member Jimmy Lile hooked up with Sylvester Stallone to start the Rambo revolution. Dan and Pam ran the California show for many years before selling it, reacquired the name and have it going again, with this year’s event set for Oct. 22-23 in Garden Grove, California. They also are planning a new knife show in Hawaii. In addition, they have held one-day special meet-and-greet shows inside Plaza Cutlery in which customers interact one-on-one with some of the world’s best makers, an encore rendition of which is scheduled for July 23.
It is retail knife stores such as Plaza Cutlery supporting both custom makers and knife companies over the decades that have helped make the knife industry the dynamic entity it is today. Whether selling knives to customers face to face or via their well-stocked and constantly changing website, the Delavans—in addition to Dan and Pam, their son Andrew, their son Bryan’s wife, Yuko, and Dan’s brother Russ—are known throughout the cutlery industry not just for their vast knowledge of knives, but also their reputation as straight shooters when it comes to providing the best in knives and customer service. It’s hard enough to maintain such a knowledge and reputation for just one year—it’s a monumental achievement to do it for 42.