Collecting Coca-Cola® memorabilia is a great way to bring people together, and the members of The Coca-Cola Collectors Club know that first-hand. Our Club is a non-profit organization for collectors and their families who are interested in the history of The Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola memorabilia. There are 5,000 people in the international Club, but the group really is like one large family.
The Club is made up of more than 50 local chapters, including several chapters in Australia and Norway, a Spain Chapter, the Las Vegas High Rollers Chapter, the Lone Star Chapter and the Windy City Chapter. Most are based on geography, with the Atlanta Chapter being the largest. However, chapter membership is not restricted to where you live; people from as far away as Canada, Italy, and California belong to the Atlanta Chapter. The chapters meet regularly to discuss different aspects of collecting, show off recent acquisitions or have swap meets and mini conventions. Local chapters also have newsletters to help members keep in touch.
Recently, chapters built around the items collected -- instead of the city, state or country -- have been formed. There is a chapter for people who collect bottles, one for those who collect yo-yos and a chapter for those who specialize in older, "vintage" collectibles.
What do we collect? As you can see from this site, almost anything! We collect memorabilia ranging from toys and games, to sports memorabilia, to vending machines, to old and new bottles. Many of us collect anything Coca-Cola -- vintage or new -- as long as we happen to like it. As members of the Coca-Cola Collectors Club, we can participate in national and regional conventions. The international Club holds one convention a year -- referred to as the "national convention" -- usually around July 4. The location of the convention varies, moving across different areas of the U.S. Recent conventions have been held in Dallas, Texas; Orlando, Florida; Palm Springs, California; and Chicago, Illinois. The 2004 convention was in Atlanta. The convention was also held in Atlanta in 1975, the year of the Club's formation, and in 1986, the year of the Coca-Cola Centennial Celebration. For a list of upcoming convention sites, visit our website.
The local chapters that make up the Coca-Cola Collectors Club also have conventions. These conventions are often the highlight of the collecting experience, with chances to see old friends from around the world, buy and sell memorabilia, and learn more about the items we collect. The second largest convention (after the national convention) is Springtime in Atlanta, hosted by the Club's Atlanta Chapter. Other local conventions include the west coast's Great Get Together, held in Las Vegas in odd years and in California in even years; Septemberfest in Elizabethtown, Kentucky; Tex-Fest; Mid-America's Spring Fling in Kansas City; and Atlantic Iowa's Coca-Cola Days, as well as others in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and other parts of the country. You can see a full list of upcoming conventions and dates on the Club's Web site.
At conventions, collectors take part in a silent auction, a regular live auction, a lunch or brunch, and a banquet that ends the convention. Informational seminars are held and members contribute items to a display room where you can see some of the greatest and most unusual collectibles around. A Swap Meet (an indoor flea market where Club members sell Coca-Cola items) is a great part of the convention -- and is the only convention event open to the public.
And a convention wouldn't be complete without "room hopping," everyone's favorite event. During the week of the convention, members fill their sleeping rooms with Coca-Cola collectibles. They lay out the items they have to sell and trade on the beds, on the dressers, on the tables and the floors and prop open their doors indicating they are "ready for business." Members wander the halls all day and night, often past midnight, buying, selling, trading and visiting with old and new friends.
I can still remember my first national convention -- how astounded Mike and I were when we walked into the Swap Meet and saw more than a hundred tables piled high with Coca-Cola memorabilia. And once we figured out just what in the world it was, we gleefully jumped into "room hopping." Now, 25 years later, we're still enjoying national and local conventions, we're still finding things to add to our collection, we're still seeing new and wonderful things, and we still experience that sense of awe at every single convention.
Conventions give us an opportunity to see old friends and to make new ones, to spend time with our families and to enjoy the hobby of collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia with others who share and understand our passion. We'd love to have you join us!
By Wendy Lawrence. Wendy and her husband Mike have been collecting since 1973. She is president of The Coca-Cola Collectors Club.