'American Picker' treasures being on the road
Mike Wolfe says he has been pickin' around for valuable items from the past since he was a kid, but took it on as a profession when he realized all he needed was a “cellphone, website and cargo van.”
TV doesn't hurt either, adds the co-host of “American Pickers” on History channel and the owner of two Antique Archaeology stores.
“When the TV show first was broadcast, we had hundreds of people waiting to getting into the shop,” he says. “The place was basically a warehouse. We didn't even have a cash register.”
He will be at the Pittsburgh Indoor & Outdoor Home Show in Monroeville from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday where he will talk about the value of goods he finds in basements, barns and backyards across America. Many of those discoveries happen in Pennsylvania, which he bills as his favorite state because of the span of areas from urban Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to the rural area in between.
The show, which co-stars Frank Fritz, has been on History since 2010. It has created for him a profession that keeps him on the road seven months a year as he crosses the country picking as well as doing shows such as this one.
It also has led to a new Antique Archaeology store in Nashville joining the original in LeClaire, Iowa, and has generated a book, “Kid Pickers,” which will come out in April. That book is being used in a History channel-sponsored website in which children can exchange their thoughts about items they have and their significance.
Wolfe, 48, says he was using his interest in finding and reselling item as a way of keeping his bicycle shop in LeClaire functioning when business got slow. He dealt mostly with local buyers or those he had met elsewhere through his bike business, until he discovered eBay in the mid-'90s.
By 2000, he says, he was able to “call picking a job,” and that occupation increased gigantically when History decided his TV proposal fit its needs.
The twice-weekly broadcasts of “American Pickers” and occasional marathons give his business “the advertising budget of Ford,” he jokes.
The direction of the show would seem to fit Home and Garden TV more than History, but Wolfe is glad the latter channel saw the worth of the show. Rather than simply focusing on design and decor idea, which probably would be the case on HGTV, the show takes on a historic and business focus.
He says the show generates thinking about historic items as well as the business of buying and selling them,
“I think we have created a whole new genre,” he says. “History started calling it Artifunctional TV, but I think it is more Transactional TV.”
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7852.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man charged with playing doctor for free Nemacolin stay
- Ehrhoff finding his way with Penguins
- Steelers cornerback Taylor ready to swap earpiece for helmet
- Cancer didn’t stop mother from living for her son
- Penguins notebook: Bennett status remains fluid
- Steelers’ lookahead: New Orleans Saints
- U.S. Steel Tower tenants stand to benefit from company’s relocation
- No. 15 San Diego State hammers Pitt, 74-57
- Bars bulge at the seams night before Thanksgiving
- Steelers notebook: Defense tasked with stopping Graham
- Retailers that won’t open on Thanksgiving hope move pays off