‘American Pickers’: Mike Wolfe Revealed the ‘Shocking’ Item That Sells the Most From the Show’s Antique Stores

by Jonathan Howard
https://www.fastcompany.com/3041241/the-mike-wolfe-of-main-street-american-pickers-empire-of-trash

Ever since American Pickers aired on History Channel in 2010, the show has only grown. While it may have started out as just a television show, Pickers has turned into a brand. When Mike Wolfe isn’t on the road finding picks and making money, he has two storefronts to run. His flagship Antique Archaeology store in Iowa along with their Nashville, TN-based location they opened in 2011.

With over a decade on television, American Pickers has found its audience. The premise of the show strikes viewers with a sense of wonderment and intrigue. What could Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz find amid a heap of rust and chipped paint? Over the years they have found quite the finds. From oil cans, motorcycles, bicycles, cars, and much more, the duo have a keen eye for their finds. What is it that they sell the most of, though?

Despite all the great antiques and other things that Wolfe has found, the thing that sells the most from Antique Archaeology…merch. “Ninety percent of our sales are clothing, so all of a sudden I’m in the clothing business. I’m looking at what we’re making for spring. I’m looking at hard goods, soft goods…I just learned recently that our number-one-selling shirt doesn’t have our logo on it.” Hopefully, Mike and his team get on that quick!

With the popularity of the show and brand, Wolfe has had to adapt to more than just branding. He is currently investing quite a bit in real estate and has made other ventures since 2010 as well. The adaptation of Antique Archaeology and American Pickers over the last decade is due to Wolfe’s vision and ability to be flexible.

Mike Wolfe Building a Brand

The show is headed into a new season in year 11. While there have been bumps in the road along the way, the show has managed to keep going and entertain fans. Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz have had a bit of separation in recent years. Fritz has been noticeably missing from the series, and perhaps mending the relationship is impossible based on recent statements.

Until then, Wolfe will keep doing what he has done for the last 11 years. That means going on great picks, flipping antiques, building the brand bigger, and finding a way to get merchandise in bigger stores. The Iowa and Nashville-based stores do millions of dollars in business a year and have become essentially tourists destinations as well.

However, with that success, Wolfe still sees more potential and more to be made.

“Now we’re looking at brand licensing and merchandising. Take it to Kohl’s, take it to JCPenny’s. My stores do millions of dollars a year in sales in merchandise, but not what they would do on a Black Friday at a big-box store.”

The vision is clear and that vision is growth for the American Pickers brand.

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