American Pickers star Mike Wolfe knows a good deal when he sees it. And that’s how he came to buy his first home.
Wolfe explained to Fast Company in 2015 that he wasn’t planning on buying a house when he went to a garage sale, but he realized there was promise in the property.
“This guy was having a garage sale, and I ask him what he wanted for it, and he goes, ‘I want 60K.” I looked around and go, ‘You know what, I’ll take it.’ It wasn’t my dream home, it wasn’t the place I was going to die, but I saw an opportunity.”
And he’s followed that instinct to insane success. American Pickers is one of the biggest shows on The History Channel and spawned an industry built on rust and restoration.
Wolfe continues to buy and restore properties as well as the items he finds on the show. And a large part of his business is fixing and flipping old buildings. He converts old homes and dusty, dilapidated buildings and converts them to new retail spaces, he told CBS Sunday Morning last year.
‘American Pickers’ Star Started Picking As a Kid
Mike Wolfe grew up in Iowa to a single mom as the oldest of three kids. Money was always tight, and Wolfe told CBS Sunday Morning that they couldn’t afford toys like other families.
But, one day, he happened to see a bike in a trash can. From then on an obsession was born.
“It was one of those big garbage days,” the American Pickers star said. “I was cutting through this yard and remember seeing it. It was a girl’s bike. I picked that up, and I was amazed that someone would throw out a bike. And so I thought to myself, ‘If someone would throw out a bike, what else would they throw out?’ So that’s why I started digging in the garbage constantly even if it wasn’t a big garbage day. I was always in the trash cans and stuff.”
He’s not the only one. There are thousands of people across the country just like him. And finding those like-minded people is what drives him and fuels the success of American Pickers.
“A judge I met in Florida has an incredible collection of petrobilia, signs and gas pumps. A lot of people have beautiful collections that are clean and on display. This guy, his stuff was piled on top of each other.
“For me, I want to know why people go down this path, why they buy all high-quality stuff. For this guy, it was because he worked in a gas station when he was 13. Just that one experience changed his path. That’s what interests me. I go in, and people have one hundred or one thousand of one thing, and it’s the back story that is intriguing to me,” Mike Wolfe told Southeastern Antiquing and Collecting Magazine in 2011.