The Zippo Museum and store is an iconic experience full of Americana, history, and curious trivia. The museum is free to visit and tells the story of Zippo’s history. I didn’t realize that Case knives were also here, sharing some of the storefront and museum. This place is packed with character, charisma, and history in such a tiny – but ubiquitous – item: the mighty, yet humble lighter! You could tell there was pride here in Bradford over the Zippo lighter.
I highly recommend that you visit this unique, interesting, and entertaining location. This location is part of the McKean County Historic Tour and sells a collective pin.
While visiting the Kinzua Bridge State Park, we decided to continue our exploration into the town of Bradford and visit the Zippo Museum and flagship store. Outside of the Zippo museum and store we found the exterior street lights decorated with the zippo lighters, and the Zippo car was parked in the front parking lot. I was charmed. They really invested in designing the location for visitors. Although the road to the museum had me questioning if I made a wrong turn! After a few minutes, it was easy to find the location and there
The Zippo store is about the same size as the Zippo museum. In the store you will find – obviously – a large variety of lighters ranging from the easy-to-use first lighter up to refined collectibles and specialty items. Did you know you can buy a solid gold case? Although I am not a smoker and have no need to carry a lighter around, I was charmed by the beauty and whimsy of many of the lighter case designs. I can easily see why these become collectibles! There was much that I enjoyed strolling the store and the museum.
At the Zippo store, you can also find outdoor gear, camping gear, candles, and clothing. The other side of the very large store is the Pennsylvania made Case Knives.
The Zippo museum is densely packed with Zippo-related materials, history, and information. I don’t know what I expected, but I was very pleased with the museum. It is dense with history and culture. Famous movie scenes, iconic actors, sports, unique creations, unexpected inventions… it’s all here.
When you enter, there is an information video playing that can tell you the details about the mighty lighter. You are also greeted by a large spinning globe surrounded by a ring of Case knives and Zippo lighters. On the wall is giant American flag made out of Zippo Lighters. As you start to stroll through the museum and read the displays you’ll quickly realize that the Zippo is at the heart of Americana. Arts? Military? Household? The Zippo lighter was seemingly everywhere.
The museum has exhibits I’m sure you will appreciate:
- An Ally for the Allies: related to WWII
- The Greatest Support Actor of all Times: related to Hollywood and famous folk using Zippo lighter
- Honestly… how many Zippos were used in movies to start fires and were left behind / tossed away?
- Zippo Rocks!: Zippo and music / musicians
- Zippo and Sports: Unique inventions and sports. I didn’t think Zippo and Golfing was a natural combination… but the museum proved me wrong
- Zippo in Space: Zippos and NASA – find it. 😉
The Zippo repair clinic (“It Works or We Fix It Free”) is also on site, and there is a large window in which you could watch employees working on the repairs. No one was present during the weekend while I was touring, so I have a grand photo of an unpopulated repair clinic.
Below the window of the clinic was one of my favorite displays. It shows all the ways Zippos were damaged and destroyed, and I had some fun reading the sad fates of several lighters: lawn mowers, airplane tarmacs, wood chippers, train, garbage disposals, etc. Some of the displays are recognizable – but mangled – lighters. Others are mere metal shards of unrecognizable origin.
I wasn’t aware of the Case Knives or their apparent quality. I also wasn’t aware that these are highly collectible. I’m not exactly a knife collector. But if I ever need a good quality blade for some purpose, I’ll be sure to invest in this American made – heck, Pennsylvania made – product.
Commemorate Your Visit
Commemorate your visit to the Zippo museum by picking up a Zippo Lighter (or a Case knife!). Have it etched on-site with your name/initials, and add a unique item to your collection. You will own a unique piece of Americana and a life-time possession backed by the pride of Bradford, Pennsylvania… Zippo.
Super Friendly Folks
On a side note, I found the employees at the Zippo store to be super friendly. I told the salesman that I wasn’t a smoker and never used a lighter before. Without hesitation, I was given a quick review and lesson on how to fill and refill my lighter. They filled my newly purchased lighter and primed it for me.
Hi, I’m Patti. I work in the IT field and my favorite thing to do is reboot stuff. (Muahahaha!)
I love exploring the United States and luckily I enjoy driving. Which is a good thing since it would be hard to explore if I had to walk everywhere. I am usually exploring the states on a tight budget with limited vacation time. I try to make the most of my free time, and I may have a trick or two up my sleeve.
I’m a weird mix of over-planner and free-spirit wanderer. There’s no in between. I see weekends as play-time. Laundry is for Wednesday nights and dusting is never on my to-do list.
I love museums, learning new things, and just letting my curiosity take me to my next discovery.
To discover more about me, check out my About Me page.