An accordion maker pitches KCK's toughness.

KCK-Style Pride 

An accordion maker pitches KCK's toughness.

Accordion-playing railroad worker Sam Shublom is the first to say he marches to the beat of a different drummer — and he has the bumper stickers to back him up.

Shublom is a native of Kansas City, Kansas, who still lives on the same street where he was born. He has left a couple of times, he says, but even when it was the last place most folks wanted to call home, Wyandotte County called him back.

"It's started to become almost fashionable to move back over here now," he says. "But for a long time, it wasn't."

For the past four years, Shublom has been doing his part to jump-start a little civic pride. And it was an armed robbery near the Armourdale District that inspired it.

It all started at a 2003 Christmas party in Johnson County, when a friend was recounting a dramatic news story that took place in Shublom's neck of the woods. A robber tried to hold up a grocery store in KCK, but the business owner grabbed the weapon. The unsuccessful criminal bolted for the parking lot, where two customers tackled him. An old woman even knocked around the already battered crook with a can of vegetables.

While his friend was retelling the tale, Shublom says, a Johnson County resident couldn't contain her shock. "I don't know how you can live over there," she said.

"Well, it's not for amateurs," another partygoer chimed in.

"That stuck as the tagline for my entire movement," Shublom tells the Department of Burnt Ends.

A few months later, he was ordering a bunch of bumper stickers — "I march to the beat of a different drummer" — for his accordion-supplies business. He didn't need very many. The accordion endeavor is just a little something he does on the side when he's not working his real job at Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad. But the stickers were cheaper if he ordered in bulk. So he had the printer make a stack with his newfound slogan: "Kansas City, Kansas, it's not for amateurs."

He started giving them away to friends in KCK and bar owners who shared Shublom's WyCo pride. They were a hit. One of his friends got pulled over by a police officer, who only wanted to find out where to get the bumper sticker. He has given them to students at Bishop Ward High School to sell as fundraisers, too. He has even seen a copycat version with the colors reversed — white print on a black background.

He hasn't sold them, but he does print a new run when he puts in a sticker order for his accordion business. Friends even suggested that he lend his creativity to other hard-knock cities.

"Like 'East St. Louis is not for amateurs,' and 'Gary, Indiana, is not for amateurs,'" Shublom says. "You know, other places with character."

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