Despite what its Chamber of Commerce says, there's not much to put Butler, Missouri on the map.
It was the first city west of the Mississippi to have electricity.
It is, at least in the eyes of its C0fC , "known as the city where the Civil War began." (I believe that, in the eyes of most, Charleston SC would be the first 'city where the Civil War began' that comes to mind.)
It's the gateway to Branson, Missouri's down-home, good clean livin' resort center. (I heard they have an anti-snob covenant, so I doubt I'll ever get there. If I want to see Andy Williams or Yakov Smirnoff perform, I'll just have to wait for them to come here.)
It is also the birthplace to science fiction writer Robert Heinlein. (Second most famous native (according to Wikipedia): Adam Joe Appleberry - wonder if his folks were Bonanza fans and couldn't decide whether to name their son after the brainy Cartwright brother or the cute on. The no doubt have another son called Ben Hoss. You may be more familiar with the denizens of the Ponderosa than you are with Adam Joe Appleberry, but he's famous for saving some children in a day care center fire a few years back. Which is, of course, more than the fictional Cartwrights ever did for anybody.)
But if anything's going to really put Butler on the map, it is likely to be Max Motors, which - come August - will be giving away a voucher for an AK-47 assault rifle when you buy a new car. (Source: KCTV5.)
The reason for the voucher, by the way, is that old familiar spoilsport: liability.
"That way it separates you from anything bad that could happen," [owner Mark] Muller said. "We'll put it in the hands of professionals who do this every day."
Oh, yes, and we know just how good gun dealers are at figuring out who's going to go the proverbial postal and shoot up a McDonald's or a school.
Not that I am an anti-gun zealot. (Proof statement: Guns Don't Kill People.)
But, perhaps because I am a city girl, I don't make an automatic connection between guns and cars - other than police cars and the cars gang-bangers use for drive-bys.
As Muller says,
"We really are different than the big city dealers."
I do suspect there aren't a lot of gang-bangers in Butler, Missouri. And I know, I know: guns in cars don't kill people, people with guns in cars kill people.
Still, the Midwest is where all those meth labs are, isn't it?
It will be interesting to see how this promotion stacks up against last year's August promo, for handguns (or a $250 gas card option), which boosted business by 35 cars over the norm.
This year, Mad Mark wanted to up the caliber a bit.
"We already did handguns," Muller said. "Let's do something more fun -- AKs. You ever shot an AK? Oh, they're a blast."
Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that a heart-of-the-nation car dealership would find it "fun" to traffic in the pinko-ish AK-47. Come on: a Russian assault weapon? Used throughout the Cold War by the Evil Empire? You'd think that this would be more in keeping with the Commie-loving, socialista Northeast or West Coast regions. But I guess our car dealerships would go in more for more elitist giveaways like a coupon for fromage, an autographed picture of Jane Fonda, or a white flag of surrender.
Anticipating my surprise, you can put the coupon - worth $450 - toward the purchase of an American-made gun, like the AR-15.
If nothing else, Mark Muller is a very savvy marketer, who's gotten publicity all over the beyond-Butler map. And he will no doubt sell a lot of cars.
But what's he going to do next year to top the AK-47? Surface-to-air missiles?
Until then, all I can say is, Max Motors is giving new meaning to the term "riding shotgun".