‘American Pickers’: Why Mike Wolfe Decided to Set Up Roots in Nashville

by Josh Lanier

American Pickers star Mike Wolfe grew up in Iowa and spent much of his adult life crisscrossing the country. He’s seen cities on the come up and those on their way down. So when he wanted to add a second Antique Archeology location, he said he knew that the “eyes of the world” were on one location: Nashville.

“I’ve been all over the country, and I haven’t seen this much growth anywhere,” he told American Airlines Celebrated Living Magazine in 2015.

But more than that, Nashville is an old city. And one that wants to preserve that history as much as it can. City leaders don’t tear down old buildings to erect gaudy skyscrapers. They renovate those structures for new businesses. It’s something Wolfe has based his entire life around.

The American Pickers star told the magazine that he recently purchased a building that was erected in 1882. He planned on converting it, but he wants to preserve its originality and history.

“I’ve always had an interest in old buildings,” he told the magazine. “This one tells a great story of the city. It’s also been a dentist’s office, and an old-timer walked by and told me about when there used to be wash basins attached to it that people would use to do their laundry.”

Wolfe told CBS Sunday Morning that old buildings have a personality and charm that new structures lack. The history of a town is literally caked onto the walls under layers of old paint.

“I love old buildings, they speak to me. They really have personalities,” he said. “And when I walk into a building that has such historic presence, it gives me the chills.

‘American Pickers’ Store a Beacon for Many Fans

Mike Wolf told American Airlines Celebrated Living Magazine that people from around the world come to visit the Nashville store. Sometimes, if they’re lucky, he’s actually there. But usually, he’s off on the road in search of his next big score or filming an episode of American Pickers. But while he may be an obsessive collector, he realizes it’s not a universal hobby.

“Most people come to Antique Archaeology and they’re not collectors,” he said. “They come here and they want a piece of the store and the show.”

And Wolfe has been smart to capitalize on this. In fact, most of his income now comes not from the rusty gold he mines in peoples’ attics and crawl spaces but from American Pickers and Antique Archeology merchandise.

“Ninety percent of our sales are clothing, so all of a sudden I’m in the clothing business,” he explained to Fast Company in 2015. “I’m looking at what we’re making for spring. I’m looking at hard goods, soft goods, how those goods are presented in my store; the function, the flow, the lighting, how it’s focused, where it’s at, how close is it to the cash register. I’m constantly having meetings with my team to know what’s selling and what’s not, and I just learned recently that our number-one-selling shirt doesn’t have our logo on it.”