‘American Pickers’: How Mike Wolfe Picked One Item That Changed Danielle Colby’s Future on Show

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

You never know what small decision will lead to a major change in your life. But sometimes you recognize it right away, like switching on a light. That’s what happened to American Pickers star Danielle Colby when she went to buy a lamp some 20 years ago.

Colby was checking out some items at a garage sale in 2000 when a lamp caught her eye. She liked it but took her time getting to it. Just as she was about to scoop up the item, a man walked by and swiped it from underneath her.

“Sorry girl, the time to buy it is when you see it,” he said as he walked away. She was angry, annoyed, and completely intrigued.

That man turned out to be her future American Pickers boss and platonic life partner Mike Wolfe. He was buying things for his new antique store in nearby Le Claire, Iowa. Colby needed to know more about him.

“I liked his sass. … We were pretty much inseparable after that,” she told Freshly Inked magazine in 2019.

That chance encounter blossomed into one of the most important professional relationships in both of their lives. One that hasn’t always been easy, but a relationship that they both cherish.

“We are pretty lucky,” she said. “We’re pretty forgiving of each other‘s imperfections and we celebrate each other strengths. It works well for us. We’re happily dysfunctional, and we make the best out of every situation we possibly can. Above all else — even on our worst days — we love unconditionally, and we appreciate one another. Our friendship is a wild journey, but we are born adventurers.”

American Pickers Star On Why He Hired Colby

They stayed close over the years, but it wasn’t until Mike Wolfe sold American Pickers to the History Channel that he asked Danielle Colby to work in his store. He said he wanted to put a spotlight on his profession. But he wanted to change the perception that antiques are only for spinsters. Even hip, burlesque dancers covered in tattoos love the thrill of the hunt.

“I saw what she was capable of, and she’s got the edge, she’s got the look,” he told the fans outside the Antique Archeology offices in Le Claire, Iowa. “One thing I wanted when I hired her, and I knew she was going to be on camera, I wanted someone that did not look like they would work in any antique shop because I wanted our show to be looked at in a different way. I wanted people to look at antiques like they’re fun, they’re rad, they’re killer, they’re awesome. I wanted people to know that they didn’t have to have a blue blazer and ten cats to be an antique dealer.”

Twenty seasons later, he seems to have accomplished that task. American Pickers changed how people look at antique collectors. Who would have thought buying a lamp could change the world?