A spark of interest in Bradford’s history has flamed into a passion for Ron Orris, so much so that he has started up a collectors’ club for Zippo lighters.
Orris explained on Tuesday that many local enthusiasts for Zippo’s instantly recognizable lighters had belonged to the Great Lakes Lighter Club. “Bill Kolk was our leader,” Orris explained. “He recently passed away.”
Kolk was a “one man show,” Orris said, and explained the new club was formed with many of the members of Kolk’s club.
“I went to Zippo to get permission to use the name,” he explained, saying the new club is called the Bradford Zippo Lighter Club, but is not endorsed by or affiliated with Zippo or any of its subsidiaries.
The newly formed Bradford Zippo Lighter Club will be holding a swap meet on July 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Marilyn Horne Museum Event room, Orris said.
This event is replacing the Great Lakes Lighter Club Swap Meet that has been held in Bradford for the past 15 years, he explained. The meet will be held in Kolk’s honor.
This year’s event is bringing vendors from Virginia, Canada, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and several vendors from all over New York state. Vendor tables have been sold out but a waiting list is available, Orris explained.
“We’re hoping we’re going to bring in a lot of people,” he said. There are Zippo enthusiasts around the world, and Orris belongs to a Facebook group called Zippo Addicts that is run by Joey Johnson in England.
“I don’t think the average person in Bradford understands what Zippo means” to avid collectors around the world. He told a story of one man who couldn’t make it for the swap meet next month, so he visited Bradford last week. He shopped around the area to see if there were old Zippo lighters he could buy, and was thrilled with his findings.
“When he came to my office, he couldn’t say enough about Bradford and Zippo,” Orris said.
He told another story of a pretty neat coincidence involving Johnson and a Zippo lighter. Orris and his wife, Terri, were having dinner at Monte’s recently when he got a text from Johnson,
“He said, ‘I just bought this lighter for you on eBay. It was for Don’s Place. Have you heard of it?’ I laughed and said, “We’re there eating spaghetti right now,” Orris said, recognizing the old name of the restaurant where he was dining.
Orris is looking forward to the swap meet, because one never knows what will show up from someone’s private collection.
“What’s most exciting is when some guy comes in with a box in his hand, and you can see the old lighters in it,” he said. He tells people to visit each of the vendors “until you get the best price” to sell your items. “They do give people very reasonable prices”
A special commemorative Zippo lighter will be for sale to the general public during this one-day event.
On July 13 at 3 p.m. an auction will be held to auction off many special Zippo lighters. This will be open to the public.
Admission to the swap meet is free, and Orris encourages everyone to bring their Zippos and Case knives to either sell or swap. Hundreds of Zippo lighters from all years will be available for sale.
Doors open at 9 a.m. on July 13 in the downstairs Event Hall of the Marilyn Horne Hall.
The Bradford Zippo Lighter Club is not associated with or endorsed by Zippo Manufacturing Company or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries.
Any questions, contact Orris at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit at 2 Main Street, Suite 410.