Adrenaline is rushing. Two armor-clad men swing at at each other holding their swords high.
Is skill or strength the advantage? Customers line up to take turns battling out their honor on the marked floor. After receiving clear and simple instructions, a diverse crowd — young children, college students, and adults alike — wield colorful and unique weapons to prove their mettle in a safe environment.
Blade and Bones at 63 N. Howell St. is your ideal one-stop-shop for swords, knives, camping supplies, outdoor products, and much more. Owner Michael Williams prioritizes a unique retail experience for Hillsdale residents, college students, and traveling customers.
Williams, a friendly and down-to-earth individual, worked with heating and air conditioning systems for over 26 years in six different states. After an injury to his meniscus, caused by years of this type of work, doctors told him that if he kept working full time he would have to replace his knee in about five years. So, Williams decided to open Blade and Bones to explore his life-long passions part-time.
“I have always been into this type of stuff — martial arts, weapons, survival gear, both practicing and teaching,” Williams said. “My parents always said to do what you love and what you know.”
Williams said when he bought his first sword at twelve-years-old, he went out to a field and started cutting up the corn. He said although he got in trouble with the farmer and his father, this was when his love of swords began.
As of now, Blades and Bones is open only three days a week — Thursday through Saturday. Williams hopes that in the future he can focus on Blade and Bones full time rather than balancing it with part-time work at a local heating and air conditioning company.
“I want to get it to where I am open all the time,” Williams said. “I want to do gun and knife shows after everything returns back to normal. An online store would be great as well.”
Williams said he is always looking to grow his business.
“Right now I try to put everything I make from the business back into the business,” Williams said. “So when I sell a knife I will take that profit and buy two more.
Williams’ son Damon hangs around the shop and helps his father out however he can. To a customer stopping in, Blade and Bones feels very much like a family business.
“It’s nothing like any other store,” Damon said. “I’ve never seen a bigger collection of knives or swords.”
“I like to deal with high grade steel,” Williams said. “I don’t deal with any of the stainless, which is the lower grade and could be damaged. They are just beautiful and collectible. I have everything from long swords to oriental swords to gladius swords to Spartan broadswords, so there is a lot of history in the blades and where they come from.”
Williams said there are customers that will buy several of his knives and swords. “Repeat customers are what keeps me afloat,” he said.
In addition to its wide selection of merchandise, Blade and Bones attracts customers with its unusual Friday and Saturday night events.
Some of Williams’ customers like to chop up watermelons with their swords while others are into live action role play. Raif Plots came into Blade and Bones for the first time with a few of his friends to specifically try out the dueling.
“There was a lot more variety to everything than I thought there would be, in the practice toy weapons and the real things and the art on the wall,” Plots said. “The fighting was a blast and he did a great job explaining everything — all the rules. And friends make it better.”