Coca-Cola collectors may not meet all that often, but when they do they come out in full force – as they did at the Queensland Coca-Cola Collectors Club 13th National Convention, hosted last month on the Sunshine Coast.
One member who stood out was Robin Simpson, secretary of the Queensland Chapter and an avid Coca-Cola collector. Robin boasts an impressive collection of almost 14,000 pieces – 7000 of which are Coke bottles. His is one of the largest Coke bottle collections in Australia.
It all began in the early 1990s at a typical service station.
“It was just your normal day,” Robin laughs. “I needed some fuel so there I was at the service station and they had a promotion going so I got a free Coca-Cola t-shirt.”
That t-shirt had quite an effect. Robin travelled home with Coca-Cola on his mind. “It was a really cool t-shirt. When I went home later that day I got to wonder what else might be around. I jumped onto the ’net and started searching for Coca-Cola merchandise. And as they say, the rest is history,” he laughs.
“These days I probably spend at least an hour or two every night researching items, talking to traders, or trying to track specific merchandise down.”
Meeting once every two months, the Queensland Coca-Cola Collectors Club has become a tight-knit community, and one that Robin only stumbled upon by chance.
“After that first t-shirt I started building up a Coke bottle collection,” Robin explains. “And I found this bottle on a trading site that I really like, so I bid on it and won!
“The seller turned out to be located really close by, so I drove over to pick the bottle up and when I got there he asked if I was part of the local Coca-Cola Collectors group. The next thing I know, he’s handing me a form and I joined up then and there.”
Living the life
As it turns out, the community Robin signed up to all those years ago is far more extensive than he first thought. The collector lifestyle has taken him around the world – and he has made some lifelong friends along the way.
“During my time as a Coca-Cola collector, I’ve been to two Coca-Cola National Conventions in America, as well as two minor US conventions and even one in Germany,” Robin says.
“The lifestyle that comes with being a collector really is one of the most amazing things about it. I’ve been able to travel the world, attending various conventions and meeting some absolutely fantastic people.”
What does his wife think of the collection? “My wife, she isn’t really into the whole collecting thing,” Robin laughs. “But if I had to describe her attitude I would probably say that she puts up with it.
“I like to remind her that while she collects shoes, I collect Coke merchandise,” he laughs. “And luckily for me, my wife seems to enjoy travelling the world as much as I do, so I don’t think I’ll have to give up my collecting anytime soon.