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      Meet Can Cooler Collector: George Shantz

      Meet Can Cooler Collector: George Shantz

      Over the last 10 years, George Shantz has acquired almost 2,500 can coolers, while many were gifts from friends and family, he still figures he’s spent about $10,000 Canadian to amass this respectable lot, likely putting your own “collection” kept in a kitchen drawer to shame. 

      We first connected with him as a customer of ours, having posted and tagged to his Instagram feed a few koldies he’d purchased and imported to the Great White North. Obviously then, George was the first person we thought of when it was time to clear warehouse space here, contributing to his cause with 20 plus retro bevy insulators that we’d come up on. (These had included: New Kids On The Block tour merch to a random cantainer autographed by Tony Hawk to a wrinkly California Raisins one to, oddly enough, another from Enron — the OG poster child for corporate greed and corruption.)

      Given the following interview with him, I’d suggest, they figuratively and literally found a good home, in their own 144 sq ft hermetically sealed room (just kidding).

      Down in Australia they call them “Stubby Coolers”. What do you call them up there in Canada? 
      Seems like the name that most Canadians identify them by is koozie or cozy.

      How long have you been collecting and what got you started?
      I started collecting back in 2010. Koozies and beer sleeves had always been around growing up, but I didn't really fully appreciate them until one hot, summer day on the river while part of a river boat poker rally.

      On this beautiful day in July, the sun was shining and hot as we reached a beautiful little forested campsite just past the final poker stop. This is where my life changed! 

      There were about five other boats that joined us in this little clearing, everyone was sitting in the shade, drinking beer and bullshitting. I noticed a guy from another boat that was using this cool red “Bud Camp” foam koozie. We started talking and he seemed like a great guy. As my limited beer left was starting to get warm … I asked him if he'd be interested in selling the koozie for $5. 

      “Nope. Not interested.”

      We chatted a bit more but I was really eyeballing that sleeve. I offered him $10 …

      “Not for sale.”

      “Ok, here's the deal, $20 and, I'll give you one of my remaining beers?”

      “Fine.”

      He reluctantly handed me over that majestic sleeve as I coughed up the cash and one of my last beers in the cooler. I don't know why I wanted it so bad, but it really seemed like something that I needed in my life. And I was now over the moon! 

      The foam fit my next beer perfectly. It truly was an aha moment! (He then reached into his bag and pulled out another koozie!)

      I remember you hit some kind of milestone and threw a big party. Tell me about that …

      So this was about three years ago that I got the 1,000th koozie of the collection!

      I had about 975 koozies in my collection on the day of the party. To get into the party you had to bring a koozie. Your koozie was tagged with your name and then wrapped in a paper bag and put in a box.

      We started the drawing process! For every 5th koozie drawn, the person who entered that koozie won a prize. Prizes for koozie: 980, 985 … then we got to 999. The next koozie drawn would become koozie number 1,000 in the collection and whoever brought that koozie would win a Texas Mickey of Crown Royal and an iPad. The winner turned out to be my mother-in-law, Deb, and the koozie was the perfect piece for the collection. This koozie now sits in a box on its own shelf in the koozie room and gets used on some special occasions.

      Top can cooler of all time. Go!

      [Laughing] Now this is a tough question. I really like the way leather feels around a can. When I first started collecting, someone on Instagram messaged me and said that they wanted to make me a custom leather one. It showed up in the mail a couple months later with this amazing owl carved in it. Truly a masterpiece. As I look through my koozie room, every one has a story. I have a knitted koozie that was custom made and looks just like my dog.

      What’s the weirdest/oddest/silliest one you’ve got?

      I have one that is called the “Stubby Glove” which is actually just a neoprene glove with a slot in it. Pretty weird to use. Someone made me one out of an old sock that they added a little ribbon to.

      What’s in heavy use these days?

      One of the criteria of my collection is that each koozie gets used. Recently, I have been getting more and more sent to mel, so it seems like each beer I have, I need to use a different koozie just to get through them all. It’s a tough job but I think I can handle it!

      Many of the graphic messages printed on these kinds of beverage insulators are of sarcastic. Do most of your family and friends not get their jokes? 

      It’s funny because it seems like half of the “funny” ones are printed overseas and maybe with a little bit of a language barrier. I’ll look at it and not get the joke. And then show it to my wife just to make sure that it just hadn’t gone over my head.

      Any cool, funny or wild stories around acquiring some of your collection?

      My wife and I took a trip down to Australia in 2019 to tour around in a camper van for a month. Before we left, I was able to contact a stubby holder collector in Brisbane and arrange a meetup. He had over 14,000! We were able to tour his garage where he had most of them displayed. It was amazing! 

      I had brought down a bunch of koozies to trade him and was able to leave his place with over 100 new ones for my collection! We had to buy a couple extra luggage bags for the flight home just for koozies!

      What does your wife think of this interest/obsession?

      I thinks she appreciates the happiness that koozies give me and is completely on board. Sometimes when we drive to a new town or are on vacation somewhere, heading out in search of a new koozie is a great excuse to go exploring new things. I have one room fully dedicated to koozies in the house and a couple other display cases around. I think the only thing she is worried about is them taking over the house.

      What size is the “koozie room”?

      It’s about 144 square feet. I built layers of shelves around the whole room and displays in the middle. I am very close to being out of room now and I’m not sure what to do. Thinking maybe adding some more displays to the garage but we may need to get a bigger house! 

      Do you ever buy, sell or trade these?

      All of the above. There is a pretty cool koozie community online and on Instagram that has helped me to be able to trade my doubles for some new additions.

      You now have your own business around the product, right?

      I officially launched my koozie company, Brewski Blazers, in 2019. I try to take all my favorite aspects of the koozies I collect and make them into new designs and styles. We have been going to farmers markets and events so far and are really excited to get into some festivals and Beerfests in the near future.

      How old were you when you had your first beer? Follow-up question: First shotgun?

      I’m thinking I was 16-ish. Pretty sure that was quickly followed by my first shotgun!

      As part of the British Commonwealth, I assume you and your mates are partial to warm beer. Am I right?

      I could never get into the warm beer lifestyle. Cold beer — always!

      What’s your favorite John Candy movie? (I like the one where he says, “ … Canadian beer sucks!”)

      Such a Canadian Legend! His best movie for sure was The Great Outdoors.

      What are you drinking these days?

      In Alberta, craft beer has really been exploding! So I have been exploring a lot of new styles. I also like to buy anything that’s on sale. And actually, I just got my first beer sponsor which I am super excited about and will be announcing soon!

      How much is a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon cost these days in Alberta?
      I was at the liquor store today and a 15-pack of PBR was on sale for $26 Canadian. The Americans definitely are better at pricing beer!

      Welcome To The Hustle

      Welcome To The Hustle

      Sexual innuendo and the can cooler forever go hand-in-hand, heck the generic (yet also registered) name for this squishy and supple, hard-foam, beer-insulator type of product is assumedly derived from the word cooze [pronounced: kooz], which is specifically cited and defined on dictionary.com as slang for vagina

      She offered her honor, I honored her offer, and all night long I was on her and off her.

      In 2015, we’d been approached by a company interested in licensing to us the iconic and equally infamous global brand HUSTLER® name for the drinkware category. An intriguing proposition that we’d initially explored, though from the start were more inclined towards placing unique designs at HUSTLER HOLLYWOOD stores, with their ever-expanding retail footprint. To this effect, our team set out to develop a creative capsule collection that wittingly channeled the magazine’s heritage, irreverence, raucousness, sexiness, playfulness, and humor in a representative way. (The accompanying composite image is a sampling mood board that assisted such a process.)

      How did we know what HUSTLER® is about having never been a paid subscriber? As fate would have it, in the late ’90s, I worked for Larry Flynt Publications, Inc., Beverly Hills, CA, 90211 as the Managing Editor for Mr. Flynt’s long-defunct snowboard magazine, BLUNT, originally launched by Ken Block and Damon Way of DC Shoes USA. (A sister publication to Big Brother Skateboard Magazine … whose staff largely went on to create MTV’s Jackass.)

      Cold beer and porn — for some of you, it’s a guaranteed good time right there.

      Good creative is both timely and timeless. So spring forward four years to early 2019, and after repeated attempts to pitch the capsule to a mostly unresponsive corporate buyer, I reached out directly to LFP, Inc.’s EVP of Retail knowing that if he approved, it would most likely come to be. Pairing up the koldies with the novelty of the Party Starter also stepped-up the offering in a way that made them all-the-more compelling. As luck and persistence would have it, they’d place their first order in five of eight original graphics: Welcome To The Hustle, Treat Your Girl Right, Spitters Are Quitters, Hardcore Since ’74, and Liquor In The Front, destined for approximately 30 stores around the country. [FIST PUMP]! As of yet, the 8th and final graphic of the collab revering the outspoken and cantankerous founder of HUSTLER® hasn’t been produced.

       

      To no surprise, sales have done well for them (Spitters is a top-seller), and thankfully a subsequent reorder plus online test followed, this time including Turn Down For Twat and Because Boobs. We even made a video to showcase this collection and instructionally demonstrate usage of the Party Starter. It stars a Chubbies Man Model Search winner and SUPERKOLDIE® customer turned informal brand advocate, ambassador, and evangelist. Dreams really do come true.

      While we’re not selling these through our own website, they can be directly purchased at select stores across the U.S. and (somewhat) discreetly online.

      We're Sorry (Not Sorry) For Partying, Responsibly

      We're Sorry (Not Sorry) For Partying, Responsibly

      With can in hand, here’s our stand: The SUPERKOLDIE® brand is all about inspiring good times, with good friends, while enjoying good beer, cheap beer, exercising good judgment, whenever and wherever you decide to drink.

      For us these days, crushing cans is having one more beer beyond an honest limit of two. Granted that first half can goes down in an icy cold flash, well earned and deserved (if you ask), but c’mon, our primary product line is expressly made to keep your beverage colder three-times longer. So luxuriate with that: pale ale, lager, pilsner, wheat, porter, or stout. Chill, don’t swill.

      Condoning, promoting, or highlighting excessive consumption, like several social media feeds we know, is never okay with us — it’s not part of our company ethos nor business model to exploit — it’s not funny but tragic, carrying consequences of many kinds, much too often the gravest. If you’re tossing ’em back with reckless disregard of self, you don’t need a can cooler or t-shirt … you need a 12-step program. (And just in case, you can find one here.)

      The graphics and messages created and designed, those products and their descriptions, our curation and captioning of images, on our website and the other representative platforms we both sell and share on, respectively, are a celebration and homage to beer culture, of wit, fun and cheer, of letting loose in moderation; in acknowledgment that a light beer buzz is the right beer buzz.

      So … We’re sorry (not sorry) for partying, responsibly.

      I Remember My First Beer, Kozy

      I Remember My First Beer, Kozy

      It came from the ’80s, a black, two-tone Polar Pal with a neon green rubber base that matched to the stylized type of its message: “Beer … It’s not just for breakfast anymore.” A single, clever gem of a can cooler discovered amidst a greater collection of flat-busted ones, of much less savvy sayings.

      Called into service some time soon thereafter on a camping and fishing trip in California, and if I can remember correctly, the first it offered my underage self was an Olympia. (And in direct effect to the message, I may have enjoyed it for lunch.) The novelty, the hand-feel, the functionality, the subtle humor and, as I’ve later learned, the collector community around such functional and conversational kitsch is something else. Unknowingly then, I’d purchased a lifetime membership into a club of sorts, based on keeping cold beer colder longer and classy.

      Flash-forward to 2007, and never knowing when or how inspiration will hit you, it became pretty obvious, right in my hand one fine afternoon in LA, where to put our entrepreneurial energies. Sometimes genius is in the simplicity. (I often suggestively reference what Shaun Neff started and since accomplished with $1 beanies.)

      Through design and copy, brand and product positioning, we’d endeavor to elevate an otherwise promotional throwaway to a much more aspirational level — think: sneaker culture for a can. Ideation began and passively continued for four years. I mean kicking back with a beer in your hand, how motivated are you to do anything ambitious. And now here we are, though not quite just like that. (FYI, on the West Coast, they're called “cozys”, alternately spelled “cozies”.)

      In 2013, we’d launch our first seasonal collection through Urban Outfitters, produced a collaboration with Miller Lite on the reissue of their heritage can (though for some reason couldn’t openly hype it), and experienced many other sales and marketing milestones to date for our own. We’ve dealt with some corporate bullying bullshit in the threat of litigation against our (formerly and) officially granted trademark registration of SUPERKOZY; forced to change our name for limited available finances and effective interest to fight it. See, we knew the opportunity is greater than a name.

      Today, like last Friday actually, when we’re asked about sustainability practice … we joke, funny story: you could say our product has a “half-life!” But seriously, we’re actively (again) looking into materials / suppliers of that.

      And this half-life reference, so you know, ties all the way back that original beer can coolie (pictured with this post), relatively and recently retired. It was 30 years old, saw several spot applications of Shoe GOO®, and kept loyal until the day we placed it on an honorary shelf. One and done.

      Do you remember your first?