‘American Pickers’: How Mike Wolfe Described His First ‘Pick’ With Frank Fritz

by Clayton Edwards

American Pickers is a hit show today. However, Mike Wolfe had to work hard to get it off the ground. He spent years recording his own footage, uploading it to his website, and pitching it to anyone who would listen. After years of hearing, “no,” or getting horrible offers, Wolfe was feeling discouraged.

Finally, someone put him in touch with Mike Portner from Cineflix productions. After seeing Wolfe’s archival footage, Portner was on board. So, he told Mike Wolfe that he wanted to record him in the field. So, Wolfe and Portner hit the road to pick in New York, according to Script.

At that time, Frank Fritz wasn’t supposed to go on the trip to New York. However, Mike Wolfe’s instincts told him that he needed Frank along for the ride. So, they picked Fritz up at the airport and went in search of rusty gold and a TV deal.

Mike Wolfe told Script about the pick that changed everything in a 2013 interview.

Mike Wolfe on the Fateful Outing with Fritz

After picking up Frank, Mike Wolfe said that Portner wanted to know where they were going. Wolfe was honest with him, “I don’t know,” he told the cameraman, “wherever we want.”

Their journey started in Pennsylvania. They stopped and picked a handful of places. However, they didn’t find anything worth buying. As a result, the footage wasn’t great. About this, Mike Wolfe said, “I can’t believe I finally get a production company – granted, it’s only one guy with a camera in the back of my van – and we can’t find anything.”

Then, Wolfe remembered a guy he had picked in the past. So, they headed to Upstate New York, near Niagara Falls. That’s when the magic happened. They showed up and the guy was there. More importantly, he was ready to part with a pile of rusty gold. So, they picked and bought several items. He felt great about the pick as well as the future of the show.

However, Portner called Mike Wolfe a couple of weeks later with some bad news. None of the footage he shot was any good. So, he told Wolfe to send over his archival footage. To say that Wolfe was unhappy would be an understatement. After all, it was the same footage that networks had been shooting down for over four years.

However, there was a small difference. Portner shot a short interview with Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe during their trip. Then, he cut the interview into the footage that Mike sent him.

Mike Wolfe had been putting the trip and treasures front and center. That interview put Wolfe and Fritz’s personalities and chemistry on display. After four years, that minute-long interview is what sold the show.