A Coke collector’s dream world
all in one place
It doesn’t take long to figure out what John Headrick collects. Just driving up to the family home on Hwy. 411 in Maryville you see samplings of the vast array of collectibles that line their yard and garages. John is a Cola-Cola collector, but not just your ordinary collector.
“My wife Mary and I have been collecting junk all our lives,” stated John “But we started collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia about twenty years ago.”
Today, John has accumulated what he calls, “close to a million pieces of Coca-Cola memorabilia.” His garages are filled from ceiling to floor with everything from bottles to beanies.
“I have about 125 old coolers,” stated John. “I could have 1 or 20 of an item, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have room for a few more.”
John, along with his grandson 18-year-old Brad, have found a place for just about every piece of that growing collection.
“I like the collecting things a lot” said Brad. “We work around the house almost everyday adding to the collection or putting something up.”
Married 46 years, John and Mary have always had a bit of the collecting bug. “But about twenty years ago we decided it was time to focus in on one type of collectible, mainly because of space limitations. And Coca-Cola is a great product to collect,” stated John.
One wall of his shop is filled with bottles from years past. Another is filled with a variety of machines including old vending machines, some dating back to 1944. “Those are my favorite,” said John as he pops open another bottle of coke to pass to his grandson.
It doesn’t have to be an antique to fit into his collecting theme, but according to John the majority of his collection is old. “I’d say about 90% of this stuff is old – but I collect it all.”
At 63, it doesn’t look like the collecting habit will be slowing down any time soon for John. Retired in December from Alcoa Aluminum after 30 years, the couple now has more time to scour garage sales and flea markets searching for those Coca-Cola items.
“We find them everywhere,” stated Mary. “Antique shows, flea markets and garage sales.” Johns adds, “We also get items as gifts. People know we collect and they will just stop by and drop things off for us.”
John’s collection is very diverse, including such items as coolers, bottles, old pictures, trays, bicycles, tables, beanies, Coke machines, and signs, just about anything you can imagine.
“It’s a private collection,” stated John. “We don’t open it up for the public but we’ll share it with friends from time to time.” According to Mary, “It keeps us out of trouble [looking for more items]. We all like the hunting for stuff – even the grandkids like looking.”
So what’s left to add to this already mammoth collection?
“There’s nothing in particular I’d like to add,” stated John. “I’m just looking for everything!”
All photos by Michele Karl