Interview with Mike Wolfe

Mike Wolfe is one of the guys behind the hit show on The History Channel, “American Pickers”, along with Frank Fritz. They travel around the United States buying antiques and collectibles or as they call it “picking”. The show is a huge hit and is already well into its third season. Movie Mikes had a chance to grab Mike to answer a few questions about this hit show.

Mike Gencarelli: What made originally think that a show about going through “junk”, so to say, would be something people would watch?
Mike Wolfe: I’d come across these people with incredible stories and their connection with their pieces and I’d come home with all these stories and my friends would tell me you really need to start documenting some of this stuff. So, I started filming myself – traveling around and digging in barns – and when Frank I would travel together we would film each other. It was that footage that we used to pitch a television show. I think people enjoy the celebration of collecting, and the unsung people and their stories that you see in the show. It’s a show about modern day treasure hunting…

MG: Tell us about this upcoming season and what can we expect?
MW: Frank and I will continue to travel around America picking and meeting new and interesting people. We are thinking of hitting up New Hampshire and Vermont soon. I’m pretty sure we will have driven 100,000+ miles picking by the years end.

MG: How can you reflect on the success of the show with more than 5 million viewers?
MW: We never expected the show to be such a huge success. I pitched the concept of the show for years and got turned down because producers would say that no one will ever watch a show about antiques.

MG: On the show you always showcase the items picked and how much you will sell them for versus paid… but they always show an estimated profit, can you think of something in particular you’ve picked over the years that for any unexpected reason didn’t sell nearly near your expectation – and how come?
MW: The collectors market and what people look to buy is driven by trends and the likes of Pier 1 Imports and stores that produce a mass appeal. There hasn’t been an item I’ve ever really regretted buying. There have been items I’ve fallen in love with and definitely paid too much for and barely made a profit from though.

MG: You must keep some items you pick, what is your most prized possession in your collection?
MW: I picked a 1913 Harley in a dusty old barn in upstate New York …and now it’s in my living room back in Iowa as a decorative piece.

MG: What’s one thing you’ve never been able to pick that you’ve wanted most and why?
MW: The “holy grail” of picks would be… a pre-1915 Blackhawk or Hornecker Torpedo motorcycle. If you have one, let me know!

MG: What would you say is the strangest thing you’ve every picked and turned a profit on?
MW: I don’t really have a story I can think of off-hand for this question as a lot of items I buy are for decorative means – so they can be strange to some and normal to others… but how about a story about the strangest item a fan asked me to autograph recently? … Dashboard of car … a guy that picks all the time asked me to sign in his car because he is always in it and considers Frank and me his picker inspiration.

MG: You are going to be expanding Antique Archaeology this year, how can you find the time? What else do you have planned?
MW: We’ve already expanded. Opened the Nashville Antique Archaeology in July 2011. And, the store is doing really well already. Planning to launch a special website for kids soon and we have the “American Pickers Guide to Picking” book coming out in mid-September.


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