‘American Pickers’: Mike Wolfe Broke Down the ‘Elitist’ Perception Antiques Had Before Show’s Success

by Taylor Cunningham
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When Mike Wolfe was pitching networks for American Pickers, he was turned down—a lot. One reason was that people had an ‘elitist’ idea of antiquing.

As Mike told a crowd of fans at a Barnes and Nobels book signing in 2013, pickers seem to think they’re going to find the Mona Lisa hanging out in an attic and be made for life. But that’s not how it goes when people make a career out of buying and selling antiques.

“I remember when I was pitching the show, and this one guy is like, ‘well you’re never gonna find enough stuff to make a show.’ And I’m like ‘are you kidding me?'” he shared. “‘There’s so much stuff out there’ Because what the perception that people had of antiques prior to us was very elitist.”

Before American Pickers, the only way to get an antique fix was by watching shows like Antique Road Show. Those sorts of series made it look like everyone was finding “Faberge eggs” and Picassos. And while Mike Wolfe appreciates those shows for their educational value, he said that most pickers will never find items like that.

“[When you’re] actually doing this for a living, those aren’t the deals that keep you alive. The way is to find the stuff for $20 and sell it for $50, and find something for $10 and sell it for $25. Those are the deals that we do a lot. They keep you in business.”

‘American Pickers’: Why Mike Wolfe Says Everyone is ‘Born as Pickers’

According to Mike Wolfe, everyone can be an American Picker. All they have to do is reconnect with their sense of wonder.

Mike Wolfe is living the dream by digging for treasures on American Pickers. And he gets a lot of questions about turning picking into a career because of it. During a 2013 Q&A session, Mike finally revealed the secret to his job. According to him, everyone is a “born” picker. We’re just too consumed with adulting to realize it.

“I think were all born as pickers because we all have that sense of curiosity and adventure, wanting to discover. But as we get older, we tend to lose some of that,” Mike said at a Barnes and Nobel event. “Because we have obligations, you know we have mortgages, and we have children and car payments. And we have all these things going on in our lives.”

But he’s certain that ”we still have that picker bug in us” and “there are so many layers to it.”

“When a child sees something and they have such a young, vulnerable, and clever eye,” he continued. So if we can reconnect to that childhood wonder, we can be pickers just like him.

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