Today, he special-orders fresh cases of Dr. Pepper made with pure cane sugar, just not bottled in Dublin anymore. He says he has never changed his price of $29.99 for a six-pack of eight-ounce glass bottles. People are willing to pay for it. "A lot of people buy them to put in vending machines from the '50s and that's the only thing that fits," he says.
Florence has his own system. He assumes the big soda companies know he's around — he's seen coca-cola.com and pepsi.com on his site's IP log — but they've never given him trouble, he says, because he buys the drinks as a customer and pays sales tax; he never tries to buy wholesale.
To set his prices, Florence used to add up the cost of soda, gas, car rental, and food and divide it by the number of items he'd purchased. Now he does a little better than breaking even because he adjusts according to demand. He sells most soft drinks for $15 to $25 for a case of 12 cans.
He has regulars who order from him every few months, usually basic flavors or regular, real-sugar, and diet sodas. One customer buys Nehi Grape with real sugar three times a year. Other buyers are willing to pay big bucks for discontinued sodas. Florence sold his last case of dnL, a lemony, caffeinated drink by the makers of 7up, for $140.
His priciest listings ever were twin 12-packs of discontinued Pepsi Blue and the original Mr. Pibb, after Pibb Xtra replaced it, for $600 each. "I never sold them, but it would always get me attention," he says. He did succeed, though, in eventually off-loading individual cans of Pepsi Blue as collectors' items for $25 each.
The next soda-hunting trip on Florence's schedule is a Southern run, maybe around the Fourth of July. He'll swing through Philadelphia for flavored Canada Dry, pick up Sunkist Fruit Punch in DC, Northern Neck ginger ale in Virginia, and Wink in the Carolinas. Maybe he'll make a stop at the Buffalo Rock bottler in Alabama for that spicy ginger ale, and with luck he'll pick up some Pibb Xtra and unique flavors of Fanta like peach and pineapple while he's down there.