Second Amendment sale capitalizes on passion over gun rights


This is a story about a relationship – one built on friendship and trust. It's a relationship that allows one side to overcome its skepticism and rely on the inspiration and judgment of the other and, ultimately, to reap the rewards of that loyalty.

This is a story about sales.

Sean Ireland

It begins with Brad Shurett, publisher of The Daily Sentinel in Scottsboro, Ala., in the office of the general manager of one of his community's local car dealerships, Harbin Automotive.

"My biggest car dealer cut down from three-and-a-half pages per week to one-and-a-half pages per week," Shurett said. "It was the last week of the month, and I needed some additional revenue. I walked in the GM's office and began trying to convince him to have some type of sale the last week of the month. In reality, the idea just popped in my head as we were talking. It wasn't something I sat around thinking about. I really didn't have an idea for a specific sale when I walked in."

Shurett's stroke of inspiration was for the car dealership to hold a Second Amendment sale – a way to capitalize on the passion for guns and gun rights in the South by having the dealership offer a $200 voucher toward the purchase of a gun at a local firearms dealer to the buyer of a new car or truck.

"I have a great relationship with the owner and the GM, and they're pretty open to my ideas," Shurett said. "It was more of a brainstorm-discussion-sales call. I needed some revenue, and I knew they had the money to spend. The idea literally popped in my head during the discussion. The GM's first reaction was, 'You're gonna have [me] on Letterman.' To which I responded, 'What's wrong with that?' From there he was sold on it."

Harbin Automotive made arrangements with a local firearms dealer for the vouchers – the two businesses have an ongoing relationship because of an annual Big Buck contest held by the dealership during hunting season in which it gives away a rifle and a scope. And as part of the Second Amendment promotion, Harbin Automotive also entered the names of people test-driving vehicles into a contest to win a rifle or a lifetime membership to the National Rifle Association.

The dealership bought six full pages of advertising in The Daily Sentinel and its TMC to promote the sale, which ran from a Tuesday to Saturday in early February. The Daily Sentinel's editor decided the idea was unique enough that it warranted editorial coverage in the paper, which led a Huntsville, Ala., TV station to do its own story on it.

Over the five days of the sale, 33 cars were sold. "That's a pretty significant number considering our county only has about 60,000 people in it," Shurett said. "They were very pleased."

Though the sale might not have been right for all areas of the country, it was on target for the South. "The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive," Shurett said. "We've gotten a few negative comments on our site. The TV station did as well. I'd say that close to 95 percent of the feedback was positive. A great deal of the feedback focused on the goodwill the dealer built as a result of the sale. There were tons of comments from people who said they didn't need a vehicle today but they would be shopping at Harbin for their next one as a result of this sale."

The long-term goodwill generated by the sale wasn't just limited to the dealer. Shurett and The Daily Sentinel also proved that newspaper advertising remains a business' best shot when it comes to local promotion. The Second Amendment sale and its results prompted Harbin Automotive to renew its commitment to the newspaper.

"In the short term, we were able to sell six full pages that we wouldn't have otherwise sold and picked up about $4,000," Shurett said. "The best news is the success of the sale convinced the dealer to resume his three-and-a-half-page schedule every week. That will translate to some serious dollars."

It's also powerful testimony about the value of relationships in sales.

Additional information: Brad Shurett, (256) 259-1020.

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