Park City merchant explores the Coke side of life with large memorabilia collection
September 4, 2015
It all started innocently enough.
It was about 25 years ago and Doug Hollinger was building a store in Albuquerque, N.M., when something gleaming in the sun caught his eye.
"There was an old Dr. Pepper machine out alongside the building," he said. "I asked the guy, ‘Hey, what are you going to do with it.’ He said, ‘Haul it off. It’s yours.’ So I threw it in the truck and hauled it off."
At the time, that was that. As it turned out, though, it was the beginning of something else, entirely. Hollinger, who owns Park City Clothing Company on Main Street, now is the proud owner of one of the largest collections of Coca-Cola memorabilia around, comprising an estimated 1,600 items.
"Just over time, it’s kind of snowballed," he said. "Like, ‘Hey, my neighbor has got such and such in their garage.’ Or, ‘I’ve got this and I don’t know what it is. Come and look at it.’ It started that way and became actually a real bad habit after a few years."
Now, some of Hollinger’s collection is on display — he guesses about 10 percent — at his store. He discovered about 15 years ago that his collection drives people into the shop, and bottles, posters and other memorabilia line its walls. Walking into the store, customers feel a wave of nostalgia rushing over them.
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"It gives people a warm feeling," he said. "They hang around the store longer, so it just worked out to be great that way."
Hollinger has become well-known for his collection. He often receives packages from random people who are sending items to help him fill out his assortment. Whenever people he knows come across an item he would want, they send it his way.
High-ranking officials at Coca-Cola have even heard about him. They have stopped by for tours while in the area to check out the distribution facilities in Salt Lake City.
"I’ve met a lot of the big shots," he said.
But what has been most surprising to Hollinger is the worldwide net Coca-Cola has cast. He often has people from foreign countries clamoring to see the collection. Like many Americans, they, too, have fond memories of Coke.
"It doesn’t matter where people are from," Hollinger said. "People from every corner of the Earth can say "Coca-Cola" and relate to Coca-Cola. We’ve had people from every single place you could ever dream of. It’s just amazing the number of people that relate to it in a good way. Everyone has good memories.
"Coke did everything," he added. "Their advertising was with the Boy Scouts, with golf classics, everything — you name it, they had something to do with it at one time or another. So I just think it’s given everyone some association."
Hollinger’s favorite items are the vintage soda fountains and dispensers. He loves the wistful feel they elicit and admires the craftsmanship of a long-gone era.
"Those old machines that I have from the ’40s and ’50s all still work. They work great. My new machine, I’ll be lucky to get seven or eight years out of it," he said, pointing to the Coke refrigerator near the checkout desk at the shop. "They’ve already replaced one since we’ve been here."
One of his most prized items is a fountain Coke dispenser. His wife, Margie, spotted it one day in the back of a shop in Brigham City. It sits now at the top of the stairs of Hollinger’s store.
It was a piece he feels fortunate to have stumbled into, in much the same way he did with the Dr. Pepper machine all those years ago.
"Once in a while," he said, "you just find some very unusual pieces in places you wouldn’t think you would find them."
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