STÉPHANIE LAMY IS IN CHARGE OF THE HISTORIC SHOP OF “LA COUTELLERIE NONTRONNAISE”, 33 RUE CARNOT, IN THE VILLAGE OF NONTRON. SHE TELLS US ABOUT THIS SPECIAL PLACE, HER JOB, HER FAVOURITE KNIFE, THE NONTRON KNIFE AND, OF COURSE, “LA COUTELLERIE NONTRONNAISE” …
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING AT THE “LA COUTELLREIE NONTRONNAISE”?
Twenty-two years. I joined “La Coutellerie Nontronnaise” when the workshop was still on the road to Villars. Then the production moved back to the village, Place Paul Bert and it was the start of the revival.
YOU ARE THE SHOPKEEPER OF THE SHOP, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
This is the historic shop. During the war, knives were made here in the cellar. With its panelling, its wood, its tree of knives in the window, the giant knife and all its antique models, it has an “old” soul. It was renovated in 1990, but still retains the cachet of yesteryear, somehow, I’m never quite alone (smiles) in this shop.
WHAT EXACTLY IS YOUR JOB?
My job is to sell our knives, but I am also in charge of personalising the blades since I have the machine to do the engraving. Usually, it’s a first name, initials, dates, a wedding date, or an anniversary. It’s very nice, you know you’re making people happy.
DID YOU NOTICE ANY SAEASONALITY IN SALES?
Summer is a very busy time, with holiday makers and foreign customers visiting us. Valentine’s Day in February is also a highlight.
The peak of our business comes at the end of the year with Christmas and New Year. I sell gift sets, and the one with the three knives from the Office range does very well, as do our models from our ‘tableware’ collection.
WHO ARE YOUR REGULAR CUSTOMERS?
Most of our customers are local, but they’re quite diverse. There are grandfathers who come to pick up a pocketknife for their grandson, housewives who want to replace their kitchen knife or farmers who need a knife to cut ropes. The Nontron keeps its function as a tool.
WHAT TYPES OF KNIVES ARE THE MOST POPULAR?
The traditional pocketknife with ball or clog handle in pyrographed boxwood remains the benchmark knife. But the demand for our “tableware” models is rising swiftly.
We’re moving towards a 50/50 split in sales, because our customers are younger and more interested in designer knives
WHERE DO YOUR FOREIGN CUSTOMERS COME FROM AND WHAT ARE THEIR FAVOURITE KNIVES?
It’s mainly a British clientele. A lot of English people living in the area have opened bed and breakfasts, and they buy ‘tableware’ knives. They send us their customers, British holidaymakers who are visiting the Perigord. The are very fond of traditional models. Thanks to our regular British Customers, “La Coutellerie Nontronnaise” is a must for them.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE KNIFE?
The 8 centimetres pocketknife with the boxwood ball handle. I think it’s a very harmonious, feminine knife.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE?
To pass on the values of the knives we make at “La Coutellerie Nontronnaise” and to help people understand the extent to which they are the product of a unique history, know-how and expertise.
AND YOUR GREATEST PRIDE?
When I’m able to showcase the work of my colleagues. For me, it’s very important to be in a field that places all its value on the hand, on what it enables us to make and create.
WHAT DOES WORKING FOR NONTRONNAISE CUTLERY MEAN TO YOU?
I recently sold some knives to some Nontronnais who were visiting the New Zealand. They wanted to bring gifts to their hosts representing the region and France. It was obvious for them to by knives from “La Coutellerie Nontronnaise”.
It’s amazing to belong to a company that is the symbol of an emblematic object, especially when you’re from a Nontronnaise origin for several generations, as I am.