The Story Behind NATIONAL RETRO DAY (Interview with Co-Founder Robert Duran)

National Retro Day

What is National Retro Day

National Retro Day is recognized as an official day on the National Day Calendar.  It is celebrated annually on February 27th and founded by three people, Robert and Tina Duran, and Hermelinda A. Aguilar.  

For anyone that was born after 1995, they have no recollection of life without the internet, smartphones, or social media.  

The Founders of National Retro Day recognized this; some of their best memories of times past were never recorded digitally.  They were recorded mentally and recalled life without 21st-century distractions as more fulfilling and focused on spending quality time with one another.  

We often forget this gift and blessing – the significance of our relationships and experiences through people.  

Ultimately, the Founders want people to unplug, spend more time with family, and to dress up for the day in similar Halloween-like fashion and have fun.  

The Inspiration for National Retro Day and How It Got Started

Their story went like this…

Sometime late in 2017, somewhere in Austin, Texas, Robert Duran lived in a townhouse with four rooms and no place to get away for some peace and quiet.  He made the most of the garage, what he referred to as his personal space, and created the traditional “man-cave.”.  

One day, he spotted a neighbor getting ready to throw away a projector screen, and it began to rain.  Robert knew this Mitsubishi projector couldn’t go to waste and knew the perfect place to call its home.  The garage!

After setting up the projector and 55-inch screen, Robert, a lover of video games, set up his Nintendo Wii and was able to download old school Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games.  That night, he chose the original Super Mario Brothers.  

Journey came on his pandora station (I never clarified with Robert, but in my head, “Don’t Stop Believing” is what came to mind as I was envisioning this setting). After his second tall-boy, Duran was in the zone and reminiscing of times past.  

The memories of a care-free, simple childhood and general innocence swept over him as he jumped on koopa troopas, over piranha plants, and warped through green (plumbing) tunnels.

Like many other good ideas that began in a garage – think Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Google, Disney, Harley Davidson, and Mattel, to name a few – Robert’s mindset shifted to wondering if there was a “National Retro Day”?  

Is there a National Retro Day?  With so many other dedicated days out there, Retro Day is sure to be taken.

It was worth a Google.

After about 15 minutes of research, and much to Robert’s surprise, he couldn’t find anything that met the criteria.  He took it a level deeper and wanted to know what companies, or who was at the helm for recognizing such days.  

Another 20 minutes went by.  Robert finally came across National Day Calendar, an authoritative source for fun, unusual and unique National Day recognition and celebration.  

He submitted the required data fields, told his story and vision, and clicked the submit button to complete the application formally.  “Take the chance,” Duran recalls.  

He was overly excited when explaining his actions to his wonderful wife, Tina, and also roped in his supportive mother, Hermelinda, into the plan.  The trio was in this together.

Soon after, National Day Calendar pre-approved the submission, called Duran, to validate, and they worked on the next steps of financial investment and content writing for their records.  During this time, Duran was able to clarify his intentions as National Day Calendar thought it was only to remember the past.  Robert explained his vision and goals, and just let them know that National Retro Day is so much more than memories…it’s about creating new ones with the past in mind.  

Nonetheless, National Retro Day was born and is celebrated each calendar year on February 27th (Robert’s birthday!).

It all started with one man, playing 8-bit video games, listening to Journey, with a slight buzz in a garage.  But, I’m super glad he did because deep down, I think a good portion of the world can relate.  And, I’m super stoked to celebrate this day, every year, with my family, friends, and co-workers!

Check out the video interview from start to finish here:

Mark Plevyak interviews Robert Duran owner of National Retro Day!

Posted by National Retro Day on Saturday, January 18, 2020

National Retro Day Successes Since 2018 Launch

Robert Duran recalls two of his loftiest goals for National Retro Day post-launch were:

  1. Wouldn’t it be cool if this were to go International?  
  2. And, wouldn’t it be cool if people were to start dressing up for National Retro Day.

In 2019, these two ideas came to light.

The Hard Rock Cafe in Hong Kong, China, celebrated National Retro Day by setting up turntables in their lobby, busting out old Rock N’ Roll albums, and invited all patrons to listen to the music.  

Outside of China, certain radio shows in India started to promote National Retro Day.

Also, Duran mentions that people began dressing up in the trend-worthy fashion of previous decades to work on National Retro Day.  Goal #2 – check!

The other notable successes with National Retro Day so far has been trending and awareness on social platforms.  Be it Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and everything in between, #NationalRetroDay has received posts from some popular accounts:

  • Backstreet Boys – a snapshot of beige, baggy zoot suits from the late 90s
  • Los Angeles Angels (Major League Baseball)
  • University of Washington Huskies
  • NBC Sports Chicago – featured throwback uniforms of professional Chi-town sport teams
  • Covergirl – throwback makeup trend with glossy, high impact shine lipstick 
  • Guitar Center – a Rickenbacker 1989 Roger McGuinn Limited Edition Hollow Body in Fireglo 

How To Celebrate National Retro Day

“Make it your own Retro!”

Robert Duran

I’m not aware of National Retro Day has a slogan, but during the interview, Duran mentioned he wanted people to “Make it your own Retro.”  I like that. Hopefully, it sticks.

“Make it your own Retro” essentially means that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate.  

Please keep in mind, there is only 2 specific things Duran mentions as non-negotiable:

  1. It should be relative to times past.  If there is a particular year or decade that jumps out at you, celebrate it!  
  2. Do your best to unplug.

If you want to dress up in costumes or as an icon from a specific decade, go for it.

If you want to invite friends over and play classic board games, go for it.

If you want to partake in a cult classic movie marathons, go for it (tough to unplug unless these are VHS tapes or you rent out a drive-in Movie Theatre).

If you want to go bowling, roller skating, dancing, or drive in a classic car with the windows down and cassette tape playing, go for it.

Play video games on an actual console, go for it.

“Whatever your Retro!”

Robert Duran

Best Ways to Spread Awareness for National Retro Day

One tribe member at a time.

The best way is to participate and tell a friend (hopefully in advance, so they join in the festivities as well).

There is a network effect to this movement.

Other easy ways to spread awareness:

  • Take memorable photos and share online through social platforms using #NationalRetroDay
  • Join and become active in a Facebook group dedicated to Retro.  There are tons out there from gaming to clothing to interior design, but National Retro Day’s group would be best.
  • Introduce the idea to your local hang-out spot. Bars or clubs are interested in themed events.
  • Talk to your HR department and see if they are interested in recognizing February 27th as a day where employees can dress up to work and celebrate.  A great morale-boosting and team-building event for almost any organization!

Where To Find More Information and How To Become a Sponsor

The best way to find out more about National Retro Day is via email [email protected]

Currently, there are no set criteria to become a sponsor of National Retro Day.  The reason is the Founders do not want to limit companies from getting involved.

With Retro, there are so many different avenues from clothing to makeup, candy to tennis shoes.  Reaching out, discussing ideas, and finding ways for both parties to benefit is what is most important.  

Mark Plevyak

Thanks for reading! Throwing events can be overwhelming but to me one of the most thrilling and rewarding experiences. Since we all grew up in different decades, we can't always relate to iconic time periods of the past. There is so much to celebrate so if you are thinking of planning an event, plan a Retro one. And, if you're attending a party, ensure you relive it to the fullest. Party Unique!

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