Sometimes the best things are in your own backyard, literally. Last summer when the State Journal-Register headlines in Springfield, Illinois, read “Collecting All Things Coke,” I stopped to read the whole article. Despite a health-nut boyfriend I used to have, I drink Coke. Sometimes two cans a day! But the article wasn’t about Coke drinkers. It was about Coke collectors. In fact it was about the national convention that was being held right in my hometown of Springfield at the Crowne Plaza on Dirksen Parkway.
On the last day of the convention, Saturday, July 19th, they were going to have a Coca-Cola Collectors Club swap meet. My mom and I decided to drop by. We couldn’t have been more surprised. There was a huge room full of tables that were piled high with Coke memorabilia. There were plaques and bottles and buttons. There were Christmas ornaments. There were toys and polar bears. There were items that went on the market last year and pricey items from decades ago.
The whole thing was amazing. I’ve collected a few Coke items myself over the years. But these people are serious collectors! They had the coolest stuff. As we walked around, surprised by the sheer amount of collectors and collectibles, we could hardly decide which displays to look at first.
Another thing we noticed was that the collectors had come from all over. They were from Chicago and Miami and Philadelphia. They were from Texas and Wisconsin and New York. There were even participants from France, Germany, and Japan! I had no idea that people went so crazy for Coke. I thought I was the only one.
As I walked around with greedy eyes, a man selling Coke baseball hats chuckled. “You can always tell the collectors from the tourists,” he said. “The collectors walk around with smiles on their faces.”
I definitely had a smile. And I was glad I only had twenty dollars on me. If I’d had forty, I would have spent that too. I couldn’t resist the darling buttons from different countries or the Christmas ornaments with elves.
“How can you part with any of this stuff?” I asked a couple from the east coast.
“Believe me, we’ve got duplicates of all these things!” the man explained.
By the time I left, I had brochures for the national organization. Next year’s national convention? It’s going to be in Glendale, Arizona, which is just up state from where I live in Tucson.
If I make it to the swap meet, I’m going to bring more a lot more than twenty dollars!
Interested in starting your collection? Check out the organization: http://www.cocacolaclub.org/
D.R. Ransdell doesn’t just drink Coke—her characters drink it too. Check out her novel website at http://www.drransdellnovels.com