Collector Spotlight: Hard Rock Café Superuser Bruce Main

hobbyDB member, shareholder and ardent Hard Rock Café Pin Master Bruce Main shares his history of collecting HRC pins, T-shirts and even a special memento from his hometown Anchorage restaurant.

Hard Rock

I began my journey with Hard Rock during a visit to Europe in 1986.

We took a side trip to London for a week and explored the city. We were on the bus and I overheard someone talking about a café that was like an American diner. White uniforms and burgers.

What caught my ear was that they served a glass of ice water at your table. I had found it difficult to get water without paying for it and it was rarely above room temperature. I had to go to this café! And there it began. And so I bought my first T-shirt and some buttons at the original London Café.

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From then on, if I knew of a café in a city I was visiting I made sure to stop in. I quickly discovered T-shirts take up more space than pins and I adjusted my collecting habits accordingly.

I continued to slowly grow my collection, purchasing at least two pins at any Hard Rock I visited. I did not trade, didn’t even know about trading at the time. I picked pins that were of interest to me for whatever reason without any real focus.

I was excited to hear that we were getting a Hard Rock in Anchorage and anxiously awaited its opening. I had no idea about Grand Openings at the time or how to even get invited. I’m sad to say I was not a part of the celebration but I did begin frequenting the Café often.

Hard Rock

I attended my first Pin Event when Anchorage hosted Pins of the Last Frontier in 2015. At that time I still did not have experience trading.

During the first night of the event I was encouraged to bring pins the next day to trade. I thought I had a sizable collection, approximately 200 pins.

I brought quite a few to the second day but I had a difficult time giving up any of my pins. Each pin I had personally purchased at a café and they all had some kind of meaning to me. I was convinced by a few collectors that I really should give it a try and eventually made a few trades.

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Most importantly, I made connections with many of the collectors that last to this day. When new pins were released in Anchorage I would post them online and fill orders for people. I would trade if I was offered a pin I liked or I would make the purchase for the individual and ship it.

This itself helped build my connections around the world. I was happy just to get our pins out into the hands of collectors. It was not limited to pins either. Any item requested I was glad to help.

After about a year I became co-Pin Master for Anchorage. Even though we are now closed I continue as PM for Anchorage pins and slowly work to bring our catalog up to the PMAB standards they have set.

Hard Rock

I took over as PM for the Honolulu location in the summer of 2021. I now have approximately 2,500 pins, as well as multiple other Hard Rock items. I continue to purchase or trade for pins that strike my eye but I do have a few focus points.

A major one is anchor pins. I just counted them and, not including duplicates, I have 211 on my wall.

While on a trip to the East coast I purchased four table mats made from sailcloth that came off a boat. My wife helped me sew the sail cloth onto a large stretched canvas. This is where I display the anchors.

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I found a small antique watchmaker’s chest that was used for holding watch crystals and faces. I took foam board and covered it with black felt and each drawer is lined with this.

I have at least one of every pin ever sold in Anchorage and a few that never made it to retail. These are all stored in the watchmaker’s case. I was able to find a much larger antique map case with five drawers.

Along with many other types of pins, I have a collection of approximately 150 Martini pins stored in the map case. I began collecting the Martinis as a result of a failed trade for a staff anniversary pin.

Hard Rock

I didn’t have any at the time and began trading online to get some. The original deal was to be three martinis for the staff pin, then it changed to five. I brought in 10 for them to choose from and they decided they wanted them all. The deal was never struck but I had begun to like the pins and continued to gather them up.

My third big storage case is an antique architect’s cabinet. A close friend was a developer here and his father was an architect. When the father passed away my friend offered me his father’s cabinet for my collection.

It is one of my prize possessions. I have visited Hard Rock properties around the world and have 111 verified visits. My wife enjoys traveling and allows me to search out new destinations that include cafes, rock shops and such.

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If she bothered to track her visits she would have close to 100 herself.

In September I was able to obtain the original door handles from the Anchorage Hard Rock Café. They were auctioned for charity during the annual pin event in Las Vegas. I have them mounted on the doors to my pin room.

Hard Rock

A very unique addition to my collection. I have been fortunate to gather quite a few higher-end pins but my search continues for my Holy Grail.

Anchorage had two versions of the grand opening pin refused and “destroyed” before they decided on the official GO. There are some of these that escaped into the wild and I hope eventually to obtain them.

Each version has a staff counterpart so I seek four to complete my Anchorage pin set. Each collector needs to have something slightly out of reach.

Hard Rock




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