Taking a knife to the cost of the blade

Now that the month of the Mo is well and truly past us and the long hot summer is knocking on the door, all thoughts of facial hair are probably forgotten and regular shaving is back on the agenda.

Not long ago, in another Man Scape post, I wrote about how great multi-blade razors were. If they’re not quite the best thing since sliced bread, they’re pretty darned close. And having said so (here) I was showered with free razors and blades.

They sent me some samples and I gave them a tour of my face.

But the freebies don’t last forever and the other day I noticed that the drawer that had once bulged with more sharpened steel than Inigo Montoya was now bare. So I popped to a nearby supermarket where, to the never-ending drone of Status Bloody Quo, I looked for some replacement blades. Twenty five dollars. For three. $25. Down, down my arse.

I ended up buying some of my old twin-bladers but they just didn’t cut it. The result wasn’t smooth enough, even after a second pass. I had tasted shaving’s forbidden fruit and now nothing else would do.

There has to be a better way than forking out so much cash, I thought. And, hey presto! There is.

It’s an online operation from the US called Dollar Shave Club. They’re setting up in Australia and the plan is simple. Once a month you give them some money and once a month they post you some razor blades. Too easy.

They sent me some samples and I gave them a tour of my face. They blades are pretty much equivalent in quality to the big names you’d find on the shelf at Colesworths. The $4-a-month “Humble Twin” is pretty rough and ready, the $7 “4X” is a step up and the $10 “Executive” can go toe-to-toe with any of the multi-blade offerings I’ve tried.

And they cost about 60 per cent less than their branded brothers in the supermarkets.

I got in contact with Dollar Shave Club’s chief executive, Michael Dubin, and asked how they do it so cheaply.

“Why did we invent the internet if not to make things more affordable,” he says.

“The web allows us to maximise efficiencies and deliver the product to members without the need for an offline presence - and the overhead associated with that.”

Dubin was a little coy when I asked about where he was getting them from - the blades and handles are bare, with no indication of their country of origin. “There’s only a handful of people around the world who can produce high quality blades,” he says.  “And we certainly wouldn't be doing so well if the blades weren't as good or better than what the big boys offer.”

So why is the club, which apparently has been very successful in the States, setting up over here? “Why the bloody hell not!”, Dubin says, channeling Lara Bingle. “In truth, we've come to Australia because Australians wanted it more than anyone else and some of the market characteristics were similar to the States and Canada.”

It’s a worldwide problem - not a major worldwide problem, admittedly - but a worldwide problem nonetheless. Replacement razor blades, especially the spiffy multi-blade types, are very expensive, wherever you live.  

Mrs Man Scape was once hooked on a website that offered money-saving tips and one that she pointed me at was leaving razor blades in olive oil to prolong their life. I tried it. It did not work,  made a huge mess and left me smelling like a salad.

That wasn’t the solution to the razor problem, but maybe the Dollar Shave Club is.