“My family and I have lived full-time in Nashville for about six years, and I love it there,” “American Pickers” star Mike Wolfe told Antiques and The Arts Weekly back in 2017. “But Iowa will always be home.”
Originally from a small town in Western Iowa, “American Pickers” host, Mike Wolfe knew early on that he had a knack for discovering treasure among someone else’s “junk.”
“When I was five, I had my first big score when I found a pile of old bicycles in my neighborhood on trash day,” Wolfe once said in an interview with Southern Antiquing and Collecting Magazine. “I was always bringing home old bottles and other random stuff. I never thought of it as junk: to me, it was beautiful.”
In 2000, the “American Pickers” star set up shop in LeClaire, Iowa near Bettendorf where he was raised.
LeClaire is the perfect spot for this flagship store. Sitting on the Mississippi River, the Iowa town has less than 4,000 residents. However, many of the visitors to the unique shop have an eye for Mike Wolfe’s talent and love sifting through his many finds.
The shop, which is called Antique Archeology, has been featured on each season of “American Pickers” since the show’s premiere in 2010.
“American Pickers” Host Expands His Brand
In 2011, after “American Pickers” premiered to instant success, the reality television star opened a second Antique Archeology location in Nashville, Tennessee. It wasn’t long after this that Wolfe moved to the area.
Both shops are designed to intrigue both the shopper and the collector. They are designed in a sort of hybrid plan serving as part museum and part shop. At the locations, visitors can find anything from home decor, antiques, or collectibles.
For Wolfe, the small town connections are part of what makes his business so great. Traveling across the country, exploring the back highways. Touring barns, attics, and backyards.
“When we lose small towns, we lose everything that we stand for,” Wolfe explained of his support of rural communities.
“We lose small business. We lose entrepreneurs. We lose historic properties,” the “American Pickers” star added. “We lose pride. We lose jobs.”
The Show Is About So Much More Than the “Find”
“American Pickers” is well-known for featuring more than just the picks. It also features the towns, that the people in the area.
“I chose a pick in Kansas to tell this guy’s story for the sole purpose that we’re talking about right now,” said Wolfe. “Young guy, 35, had an antique car business in the middle of nowhere, Kansas. How did it survive? Online sales. Ninety percent of his stuff for sale is online.”
And, it is just this connection to rural America that keeps the television star returning to his Iowa roots whenever he can.
“I try to get there for at least a few days every month,” Wolfe said of his home state.