IF YOU GO
What: Coca-Cola Collectors Club swap meet.
When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Arbour Inn & Suites, 6710 Ringgold Road, East Ridge (formerly Comfort Inn & Suites).
Phone: 423-875-9359 (George Gilghrist), 423-899-7548 (Labron Meadows).
IF YOU GO
What: Coca-Cola Day at Chattanooga Market.
When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Where: First Tennessee Pavilion, 1826 Reggie White Blvd.
Collectors of Coca-Cola memorabilia will find an abundance of "the real thing" in Chattanooga this weekend.
Members of the Choo Choo chapter of the Coca-Cola Collectors Club will open a portion of their convention to the public with a swap meet on Saturday at Arbour Inn & Suites in East Ridge. Then Sunday is Coca-Cola Day at Chattanooga Market.
Both events will showcase a wide range of Coca-Cola items, including bottles, signs, trays, coolers, clocks and Christmas ornaments, said Choo Choo chapter vice president Labron Meadows. Additionally, those attending the swap meet may bring up to two Coca-Cola items to be appraised, he said.
Meadows, who has been collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia for 20 years, said the local chapter of the club has 44 members. They meet five times a year, usually at Wally's Restaurant in East Ridge.
"We have programs, members showing new memorabilia, silent auctions, speakers, etc.," he said.
Besides offering an introduction to the merchandise for prospective collectors, the swap meet and Market festivities are good scouring ground for club members looking for specific items.
"I'm hoping to find two commemorative bottles I need to complete my collection," Meadows said.
The market's Coca-Cola theme was planned to coincide with the biannual convention, he said.
"The market allows items to be brought and appraised by one of our members," Meadows said. "The last time, I found a great bottle that I had been looking for."
His favorite pieces are a 1949 light-up "Serve Yourself" sign and a 1950 Cavalier Coke machine, valued at $1,500, he said.
Coca-Cola items became popular collectibles in the early 1970s, Meadows said. The national club was founded in 1974 to promote the preservation and collection of memorabilia. According to cocacolaclub.org, the independent, volunteer-run, nonprofit organization has no affiliation to the company.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...