People & Places with Pierce: Swainsboro Museum of Coca-Cola Advertisement

Swainsboro, Georgia: the crossroads of the great South and also a crossroads for Coca-Cola fans.

Lynn Brinson, City of Swainsboro Director of Downtown Development, says about the Swainsboro Museum of Coca-Cola Advertisement: “There are some really neat things here.”

Things you might expect.

Michael Bright, who’s private collection makes up the Swainsboro Museum of Coca-Cola Advertisement, says: “This is a 1930’s drink box that was used with ice.”

And some you just have to see to believe.

“A young man found this for me,” said Bright. “It’s a Swainsboro Coca-Cola bottle that was embedded in a root found right here in Swainsboro, Georgia. A lot of people never knew that Coca-Cola made chewing gum.”

“Even if you went to Atlanta to the World of Coca-Cola, you would not see some of the items that are right here in downtown Swainsboro,” added Brinson.

The museum has helped keep a small town from fizzling out.

“The Swainsboro Museum of Coca-Cola Advertisement is a feature in the Main Street Market art, crafts, unique gifts store,” said Brinson.  “The building had been vacant downtown for many many years.”

“They gave me 90 days to come here and see what I can do,” said Bright about taking over the Main Street Market over 4 years ago. “So in 90 days we went from 14 dealers to about 30 dealers. Today we have 60 dealer booths with a waiting list.”

“It’s brought in a lot of tourists,” said Brinson. “We have billboards on the interstate and a lot of people like to come in.”

All of the items in the museum are part of Bright’s private collection and aren’t for sale. But if you are looking to take a piece of Coca-Cola home with you, there’s a booth selling Coca-Cola items just a few steps from the museum.

“A lot of folks they’ll usually see something they like and want to pick it up,” said Bright.

You could say Bright picked up starting his own Coca-Cola collection in the first place.

“I was working for Coca-Cola in Summerville, South Carolina,” recalled Bright. “They asked me to clean up the attic one day and after that, I found all of these signs they were going to be throwing away and that just got me into collecting Coca-Cola and I’ve been doing it since. I wanted something that we could put Swainsboro on the map along with the antique mall so that’s when I brought my private collection into the antique mall.”

“We’ve really been able to create a fantastic resource here in downtown Swainsboro,” added Brinson.

It’s a place just as cool and refreshing on a hot summer day as an ice cold glass of Coca-Cola.

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