‘American Pickers’: One Collector’s House Was an Obstacle Course in Itself

by Matthew Memrick

Revisiting the old “American Pickers” days and among the top five had to be one obstacle course of a house.

In Season 17, Mike and Frank came across a man named Arnie and a wealth of cool stuff. According to Looper, Arnie Meredith told the “American Pickers” hosts that he put together three buildings to house his collection of things. 

The man lives in LaFollette, Tenn. He also operates the Merrydeath antique store in the town that’s a 40-minute drive north of Knoxville.

‘American Pickers’ Wade Through ‘Pop Culture Maze’

Meredith told the “American Pickers” stars that he’s collected a lifetime’s worth of stuff in those three houses. The duo ended up in one room that was a converted basketball court.

The episode is a little bit for Mike (a rare set of Ford headlights) and a little bit of KISS fun for Frank. 

In the search, longtime KISS fan Frank stumbled across one vintage Kiss poster he had never seen before.

Fritz ended up bonding with the man over the band while verifying the poster’s signature and numbering. You kind of know what happens next with Frank buying the poster along with a KISS action figure set. 

‘American Pickers’ Guest Meredith Has A Story

When Arnie Meredith appeared on the “American Pickers” show in 2017, he already had a vast collection of stuff. 

According to the LaFollette Press, the man started his antique shop hoping to use his name. But someone else in town had the Meredith name. So, he riffed off of it, going with the current Merrydeath Antique name.

The newspaper said Meredith had embraced an “oddball” and “eccentric” life with a hint of intellectual curiosity.

“This is just who I am,” he told the newspaper. “It’s just part of my make-up.”

His collecting started at age 7, kind of like star Mike Wolfe. But Meredith only started his antique store in 2013.

Since then, Meredith was featured in a University of Tennessee student’s short film for the Nashville Film Festival years ago. Ben Murphy directed the “A Merry Death Collector” film, which featured his time starting up the small business and Meredith’s vast collection of stuff. He’s also been the subject of other documentaries.

‘American Picker’ Guest A Picker Too

According to the newspaper, Meredith got something else in common with former “American Pickers” star Frank Fritz. He’s quite the picker himself.

Meredith and his wife, MJ, have traveled as far away as Key West, Fla., for stuff, but they mostly like to stay in eastern Tennessee.

From the “American Pickers” episode, you can imagine how the shop is. The couple has lots of stuff like figurines, comics, furniture, and rare books. Meredith said some people have “felt a presence upstairs” and “in front of the store.” So, there’s that too.

The newspaper mentioned one fun find. Meredith had a Civil War field engineering desk with the manual and the owner’s letters. Ira E. Smith once owned it, and the man once marched among the third Wisconsin battery. In a Civil War records search, Meredith recalled Smith fighting in the Battle of Chickamauga in Chattanooga.