‘American Pickers’: What is Mike Wolfe’s Definition of a ‘Picker?’

by Courtney Blackann
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If you think of yourself as a professional “junker” then you know the feeling of finding a diamond in the rough. It’s that rare moment of seeing something with both a story and history – both of which make the item even more treasured. For “American Pickers” star Mike Wolfe, this hobby is more second nature than occupation.

The professional picker himself recently answered a few questions about how he came to love the art of procuring junk. In addition, he defined exactly what a picker is.

After claiming his love of antiques began when he was little more than a toddler, Wolfe explained exactly what a “picker” means.

“A ‘picker’ is a guy that’s on the front line in the trenches. We’re the ones resurrecting these things, digging them out of the dirt,” Wolfe said in an interview with NH Business Review. “Sometimes before it even hits the market it may change hands four or five times through dealers before it sits on the shelf of your local antique shop or at an auction.”

The History Channel show, which took Wolfe four years to convince executives to air, quickly grew to a family favorite and reinvigorating peoples’ love of so-called junking.

Professional Picker

With a style similar to a door-to-door salesman, the “American Pickers'” frontman said he was no stranger to walking up to random homes or barns in order to see what people were willing to part with.

His tenacity paid off.

“I live in Iowa, so basically in Iowa you can drive 10 minutes and you’re on gravel no matter where you’re at,” Rowe said. “So I drove around the country and I saw barns and I would go up and I had a flyer and ask, ‘Do you have any old bicycles in your barn?’ And that’s how it started because I was so frustrated.”

Moreover, because Rowe is so open to new opportunities for hidden treasures, he even bought a house with similar tactics.

“This guy was having a garage sale, and I ask him what he wanted for it, and he goes, ‘I want 60K.” I looked around and go, ‘You know what, I’ll take it.’ It wasn’t my dream home, it wasn’t the place I was going to die, but I saw an opportunity.”

The Iowa-native makes it clear that his love of junking is something he hopes to pass on. Also, it’s a good way to learn about the history and a time which should be remembered. He detailed a hope for re-invigorating the next generation of pickers.

Stating that making the old new again a “fun, cool” thing he hopes to do for a long time. And he’s certainly off to a good start.

Outsider.com