‘American Pickers’: Dealing with School Bullies Sparked Mike Wolfe’s Early Love for ‘Garbage’

by Jonathan Howard
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Making a living out of antiques and what others call junk can be difficult. The hobby isn’t for everyone, but Mike Wolfe of American Pickers has made it a career. Although the TV series has been on History Channel since 2010, Mike has been collecting for decades.

Growing up in Iowa, Mike Wolfe started collecting at an early age. Talking to the old men around town and seeing what rusty goods they might have laying around the garage. However, what drove Wolfe to the alleys and backyards of his neighbors wasn’t just curiosity. Not at first anyway.

When talking with the Des Moines Register the star of American Pickers admitted what started his search for “garbage”.

“The alleys were safe places [from bullies] for me, and that’s where the garbage was, too. And so the garbage became my toys and they became part of my imagination and they became part of who I was.”

Finding a couple of toys and knick-knacks in the garbage while running from bullies sounds like a children’s movie ready to be made.

So as Wolfe made his new paths to avoid the bullies, he made new friends. Particularly the old folks that had time to kill and stories to tell. Especially to a young person willing to hear those stories. All these years later, American Pickers is pretty much a show where Mike does the same things he did as a kid, only now he has money to spend.

‘American Pickers’: Mike Wolfe’s Cigar Box

In alleys and back streets, there are all sorts of things for a curious mind to find. However, it was when the American Pickers star made friends with his neighbors and the folks around town that got his picking itch going. Wolfe remembers receiving an old cigar box from one of his newfound friends.

“This old man gave me a cigar box and that was, like, everything to me, you know, because of the colors and the way it smelled and the fact he gave it to me,” the History Channel star said. A lot of old antiques are art pieces. All advertisements are is art made to make a consumer want to buy something. It is made to be appealing, eye-catching, and can hold quirky uniqueness that makes people want them, even decades later.

While the cars and motorcycles get a lot of love on American Pickers small items and advertising art are also huge. A bit of old yellow paint and some red lettering can catch the eye. Old Coca-Cola stuff sells like crazy because of the art and the aesthetic of it all. There’s a reason why sports fans love throwback jerseys and logos too. Nostalgia, art, a feeling of a connection to the past, are all inherently attractive to people.

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