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July 12, 2012
by David Goodale

Interview with

It's been scientifically proven that swords are cool.

Although I have no evidence in which to actually prove the above statement above, I will steadfastly stand by it. That's why I was excited when I had a chance to talk to Pam Morgan at Pam is operating a really interesting project and we've recently begun working with them to power their payments.

I find every one of our clients interesting, but this is a particularly cool project. The inner samurai in me just couldn't wait to find out more about the business...

David: Hi Pam, thanks for taking the time to tell your story. Let me just get it out of the way: your product is awesome. This may mark me as nerdy, but my main criteria when picking out a book to read or a movie to watch, is generally weighted by determining the likelihood of there being a good sword fight in there somewhere. I'm not a sword expert or anything like that (although I have taken a fencing class), but your products just look awesome.

Can you tell our readers about your business? Tell us a bit about your swords. I'm also curious to know how you got started with this project. (You don't fight crime or hunt vampires at night do you?)

Pam: Not quite. I've been practicing Japanese sword arts for a bit more than 5 years now. My sensei, Kim Taylor, has been teaching iaido, jodo and niten ichi ryu at the Sei Do Kai in Guelph for more than 20 years now. He's also been making wooden weapons for just as long, which he sells through his own company, SDK Supplies.

Kim's the mostly silent partner of ProSwords, and he's the one who got me into it (although, he just pointed out the cliff, I'm the one who jumped).

ProSwords was started by a man in Ottawa in 2004 who was a student of a long time student of Kim's. He's the one who made the first connections with our original forge in China and developed the swords we now sell as the Pro Grade Katana line with the help of Paul Southren, from the Sword Buyer's Guide.

Kim and I bought out ProSwords last year, and it was not a particularly smooth transition. The upshot is that we were forced to diversify on the supply side and switch from paypal to a merchant account, and in both cases the result was a great improvement.

Now, we have a new line of swords we sell specifically for iaido. The weight and balance is superior to even your above average Chinese katana. We can attribute this to the fact that this new supplier of ours was trained by a top sword maker in Japan.

David: I've been thinking about getting into the superhero gig. You can be my supplier. Before I put in my notice and start sewing my costume though, I should finish this interview. The payments landscape has a lot of options out there. Was there a particular reason why you chose to work with Merchant

Pam: After a nasty experience with Paypal, I needed an alternative. I researched a lot of merchant account providers, and there were a number of reasons why I chose Merchant

 1 Their fees are flexible and affordable.

They've got a variety of different setups to choose from with different fee structures, so you can pick the one that works best for you.
 2 Their customer service is excellent.

This is where they outshone paypal by miles. It was so nice just to be able to talk to the same person as last time you called. Plus the reps I talked to were so friendly and helpful, I felt like family.
 3 They're Canadian.

And so am I. A small totally biased point in their favour.
 4 They were able to support me, even though I sell weapons.

The few other options that were comparable rejected me because they didn't want the liability. It's nice they'd go out on that, fairly sturdy, limb with me.

David: Thanks Pam, I appreciate that feedback. The 'Canadian' part I was born with, but the rest we work at pretty hard! What was your experience like during the setup process?

Pam: It was easy. The process was clear, and I got lots of help and support. We got through it without any problems, and the help I got with the setup actually improved other aspect of my business, like the website.

David: How are you taking your payments? (over the phone, e-commerce, etc)

Pam: We use phone, e-commerce and face-to-face, and it's nice to have all those options. While most of our sales are through the website, we often do special and custom order by phone, and we also travel to occasional martial arts seminars where we deal face-to-face with our customers.

David: What shopping cart did you use, or did you build your own integration?

Pam: I use Mal's Ecommerce. Check out our website at

David: I've known Mr. Mal Stewart for some time now. He's the original author of the software, and it's a great cart. Super easy, and super affordable, you can't go wrong there. I'm glad to hear the setup process went smoothly. However, I'm curious to know if you had any concerns before getting started. I know that when someone hasn't sold online before setting up an e-commerce website can be intimidating (as you know it's actually easy, but digested in one big bite it can be daunting). What were the biggest concerns you getting started implementing your payments?

I don't recall having anything that I'd really call a concern, but I did a lot of research to make sure I ended up in a good place.

David: Just the kind of confidence I'd expect from a samurai ninja warrior, I like it! Any advice for folks out there that are looking for a payments solution? Or, just general thoughts or comments about operating a business with an online presence?

Pam: Yes, and I learned this lesson the hard way. Always read the terms of use carefully (that's part of how I got in trouble with Paypal). I know people usually skim through that kind of thing, but in this case, don't.

You don't want to get caught with any unexpected problems because you didn't read an agreement, or lack of support because you don't have someone in your corner with your merchant provider.

David: Thanks so much for taking the time Pam. Just in case you are secretly a vampire hunter and this online swords business is just a cover, I want to assure you that I love garlic and am frequently seen out in the daylight - at least when I'm not helping merchants implement their payments solution!

Pam: Sure thing, David.

Want to battle your way to Mordor, or just looking for an intimidating looking wall decoration? Check out more at
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- About the Author

David Goodale My name is David Goodale, CEO at Merchant Pricing is often one of the most confusing topics in the merchant services industry. I strongly believe that flat (non-fluctuating) pricing and interchange plus pricing are the only good pricing models in the industry. If you have any questions about this article, pricing, or other questions in general about your merchant processing agreement don't hesitate to contact me. I'm always happy to help with an honest opinion, and enjoy chatting with folks from interesting businesses!

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