Patti Small: "I go from market to market to market"

Welcome to another installment of “10 Words or Less,” a title that applies both to the questions I ask and the answers I hope to receive. Today’s participant is at the edge of my usual topics, but she does her business at farmers’ markets, and she’s interesting. Please remember: No counting! It’s a goal, not a rule.

Name Patti Small
Age 57
Town Bolton, Mass. 
Business “On The Edge Knife Sharpening.”
How long have you been doing it? “Three years.”
Where is your shop? “I don’t have one.”
Huh? “I go from market to market to market.”
Why? “I live out in Bolton. Who’s going to drive out here to get their knives sharpened?”

Does that mean when the market season ends, you’re out of business? “No. There are some winter farmers’ markets, and I also visit Formaggio Kitchen [in Cambridge], City Feed [and Supply in Jamaica Plain], and Debra’s Natural Gourmet in Concord.”
What did you do before knife sharpening? “I was an accountant in the movie business.”
Can you share some accounting wisdom? “I have none. It has to be the world’s most boring thing to do. I don’t know how I did it for 20 years.”
The difference between honing and sharpening: “Honing realigns a knife’s edge. Sharpening puts a new edge on it.”
Can you share some wisdom about honing? “Do it every time you pick up a knife.”
A less favorite aspect of your job: “Getting really bad knives.”
What makes a knife bad? “Really hard metal, or a knife that hasn’t been sharpened in 30 years.”
Do you like to cook? “Yes. I have more cookbooks than any other thing in my house.”
Your favorite thing to cut “Mangoes. I actually have a knife made for me that will cut mangoes. It bends 90 degrees.”
Who makes knives for you? “Adam Simha of MKS Design in Cambridge.”
How many knives in your kitchen? “20, probably.”
But I’d always heard you only need a couple? “You need 3 or 4: A chef’s knife, a slicing knife, a paring knife, and it would be really good if you had a meat cleaver.”
But you have 20? “If you really like knives, you buy them.
A distinctive market you visit “Davis Square [Somerville]. It’s smack dab in the middle of a city, but there’s really a sense of community. You see the same people, they all come by and talk to you, and the venders are really great.”
One thing you wish everyone would just get right "It’s easier being nice than not."

Visit Small’s website to see when Small will be at a market in your area.

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