‘American Pickers’: Mike Wolfe Detailed the Humble Beginnings of the Show

by Taylor Cunningham

Mike Wolfe from American Pickers is a household name. But his climb to fame wasn’t as glamourous as you may think.

In 2021, reality star Mike Wolfe is a bonified star. He has a popular, long-running series on The History Channel, a few antique stores, a classic car and bike shop, and a famous Air BnB. But Mike never imagined that he’d be a world-famous picker. And according to an interview with Jeanne Veillette Bowerman of Script Magazine, his stardom came from very humble beginnings.

Wolfe’s reality show was born from clips that he posted on the Antique Archeology website. He really wanted to get a unique show running, so he hired a “kid from Iowa” named Justin to help. The 23-year-old would edit videos down to three min segments and post them online. But after some time, the partnership ended over creative differences.

But he had a “burning desire” to create a unique series that showcased his passion in life, so he continued to move forward with his idea on his own. And thanks to an old friend with a few connections in the industry, he got himself a contract with the History Channel.

Mike Wolfe Starting Filming ‘American Pickers’ Alone

With a major deal in his pocket, Mike Wolfe hit the road. But filming American Pickers wasn’t exactly how he imagined it would be. When he started out, he didn’t have a co-host or a production team. It was just him, a camera, and the open road.

“You have all these views in your mind of how it’s going to go, and then you see how it really goes. There was no crew. It was just me on the road by myself,” he told Bowerman. “So, basically, I bought a camera, and I started shooting everything on Mini DV. I would put it on the dashboard and start talking into it. “

Mike had to get creative when he was shooting footage for the show. And he didn’t come from a filming background, so he found it challenging at times. At one point, he had to buy an inexpensive tripod so he could prop the camera up and record himself. He also got a lot of help from the people he would visit.

“When I was picking people’s barns, like your mother’s barn, I’d hand them the camera,” he remembered. “And they would film me talking, and then I would take the camera and do a little interview with them asking about their relationship with these things and how they collected them.”

But Mike didn’t mind the unusual process. American Pickers was always about history and people he met along the way. He loved telling their stories.

“To me,” he said. “The show was always about relationships more than about a value.”