‘American Pickers’: How Frank Fritz Discovered His Love for Picking and Collecting

by Jennifer Shea

When it comes to collecting, American Pickers star Frank Fritz started small. But then his love of collecting objects spiraled out of control, leading to the History Channel reality show viewers know today.

With his co-star Mike Wolfe, Fritz embarked on an odyssey to collect antique objects for the cameras. The duo spoke to Sidewalks Entertainment in 2014 about how they got their respective starts in collecting and about the origins of their show.

“I think me and Mike’ve both been collecting – I mean, when I started out I collected the staples,” Fritz said. “You know, beer cans, stamps, coins.”

“Razor blades,” co-host Mike Wolfe interjected. “He collected razor blades.”

“Razor blade collections,” Fritz agreed. “You know, I mean, I collected all the staples when I was a kid. It just escalated.”

American Pickers Star Wolfe Stored His Finds in His Parents’ Garage

Wolfe, meanwhile, found what he loved to do early in life. He skipped school to pick through trash piles. And his mom was, shockingly, okay with that. She even gave Wolfe’s collecting efforts a little boost.

“I started collecting when I was four years old,” Wolfe recalled. “I was walking to kindergarten, and they had one of those big garage sale trash days. You know, where everybody throws everything out on the curb. And I saw an old bicycle, and I wanted it, so I didn’t go to school that day. I just went around picking in the garbage all day.”

“My mom got a call from the school, and wanted to know where I was,” he continued. “She did a cool thing, though. When she came home, once she settled down, she goes, ‘You know what? If you’re gonna be bringing all this stuff home,’ she goes, ‘I won’t park my car in the garage anymore.’ So at four years old, I had a man cave.”

Watch the full interview here:

Fritz and Wolfe Have Since Parted Ways

Since that interview, Fritz and Wolfe have gone their separate ways. Fritz last appeared on American Pickers in March of 2020. After a long absence, in July of 2021, Wolfe confirmed that Frank was not coming back to the show.

Fritz spoke to The Sun about his relationship with Wolfe and what he’s been through since then. Fritz has Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition in which an inflamed digestive tract leads to abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and nutritional problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, Crohn’s can occasionally bring about life-threatening complications.

Since he left the show, Frit has reportedly lost 65 pounds. He says that Crohn’s forced him to adopt a healthier lifestyle, which led to the weight loss. In addition to Crohn’s, Fritz also suffers from back problems. And he said Wolfe’s lack of concern for his health led to a falling-out that has lasted years.

“I haven’t talked to Mike in two years,” Fritz told The Sun in August. “He knew my back was messed up, but he didn’t call me up and ask how I was doing. That’s just how it is.”  

It’s a sad end to a partnership that birthed American Pickers, but at least Fritz is in better health today than he was during his time on the show.