Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Montana Sucks!

Are you kidding me?

Well yes, but I must tell you a funny story. My bride and I fell in love with Montana the first time we crossed the state line. Granted, eastern Montana is not as striking as the western part of the state with the mountains, dramatic landscapes, Glacier Park, Flathead Lake, etc., but as a whole, this is one beautiful state. Maybe that's why it is called "The Treasure State"... but I digress.

Soon after my bride and I moved to Montana we were out at a local restaurant and a young fellow walked into the restaurant wearing a tee shirt with the words "Montana Sucks" emblazed across his chest. We were appalled that someone actually felt that way about Montana, and that they would advertise such feelings on a tee shirt. However, as we were leaving, I got another view of that shirt and written under the bold headline were the words, "Now go home and tell all your friends".

I couldn't help laughing at the clever statement. We had been here long enough to know that if most Montanans had their druthers, they'd rather that things stayed the same and fewer tourists would choose this as a destination. For a state that gets a large portion of their revenue from tourism, this is a conflicting sentiment, but an honest one to be sure.

As it happened, I loved the tee shirt's slogan. It was the kind of thing that offers both a shock from the headline and then a smile from the caption. I just had to get me one of those. After doing a thorough Google search for such a tee shirt, I discovered that no one was selling such an item online, there were no copyright or trademarks associated with that phrase (yet). I had a brainstorm!

You can probably guess what happened next. Being a closet geek possessing an acceptable sense of humor, I created a website and partnered with an online printing company to create some tee shirts, ball caps, bumper stickers and other items I thought might be of interest to people of a similar mind. The Montana Sucks website was born.

I was not delusional about this little venture and did not expect that this tee shirt site would make me a wealthy man. In fact, I really didn't do anything to promote it except link it from a couple other related websites, but as a result, I did get that tee shirt I wanted. Over time, my website sold a few shirts and bumper stickers, but I was surprised how many people wrote to tell me how funny they thought my "tongue-in-cheek" website was and that it was probably doing more to generate awareness for Montana than what the state's tourist bureau was doing. I doubt that, but always enjoy hearing form people who got a chuckle from my site.

Two things happened this year that substantially increased the traffic on that site and caused me to sell a bunch of shirts and bumper stickers. A reporter from the local Hungry Horse News stumbled upon my site and wrote a story about it this past winter. You can read Cristal Jones' article here...

Then a few weeks ago an AP reporter researching a story about Californians moving to other parts of the country, found my site and interviewed me. The mention of my website in her story was a mere couple of sentences, but the article was syndicated and picked up by almost every newspaper and online news service in the country. USA Today, MSN, Google and newspapers from the Boston Globe to the Kalispell Interlake were running "my" story. See Angie Wagner's (AP) story here...

Wow!... the story hit the wire yesterday and the fallout I received would make you think this was breaking headline news. I received so many emails it took me until late last night to respond to most of them and I'm not finished yet. In addition, I sold more tee shirts and bumper stickers yesterday than I did since I launched that comical website. My 15 minutes of fame lasted all day! In fact, I'm now stretching that 15 minutes to day two... as I've already had more visitors this morning than I see in a typical month and its not yet 7:00 AM.

If you have ever visited Montana, or live here, you know how ludicrous such a statement is... "Montana Sucks". Montana is the jewel of the lower 48, boasting scenery and natural beauty that one never tires of. I brag to my friends in other states that I experience more beauty taking out my trash than most will see on a typical vacation. So yes friends, Montana does suck... now go home and tell all your friends.

Oh and BTW, you just must get yourself a tee shirt and a bumper sticker - help us spread the word! Visit my sleepy little website, Montana Sucks.


Anonymous said...

after I recovered from your headline, I visited the montana sucks site. what a funny site, i really got a couple good chuckles in... that's a creative twist - congrats.

A Girl from Montana said...

I have to say, when I first saw one of the T-shirts, I was outraged. But then I read the caption underneath. This has to be one of the BEST ideas ever! I've always got a kick out of some of the questions that I and my friends get asked, or some of the comments that get made. My favorite is 'Oh look! It's a deer! Take a picture!'. In Helena, you can't take five steps out of town without running into a deer. I think that we should try to get EVERYONE in Montana wearing these shirts and putting the bumper stickers on their trucks.


Anonymous said...

No, it pretty much sucks. In actuality. Come here if you want. See for yourselves.