‘American Pickers’: Why Mike Wolfe Decided to ‘Get Into Business’ for Himself

by Josh Lanier
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Mike Wolfe said the high of having his own show in American Pickers was crushed when he realized his life’s work was now owned by History Channel.

Even though he was already a successful business owner before the show launched in 2009, Wolfe said he didn’t take full advantage of the popularity of the show until years into its run.

“History said something to me about four years ago, and I’ll never forget it: ‘We’re not in the Mike Wolfe business, we’re in the American Pickers business.’ And that woke me up,” he told Fast Company in 2015. “I said to myself, ‘You know, that’s right, you are in the American Pickers business, and I better get in the Mike Wolfe business real fast, and understand what that business is.’”

And the Mike Wolfe business is booming. He added a second location to his American Archeology store in Nashville. He wrote a children’s book. Wolfe even put his company’s logo on hundreds of items and made a fortune on the merchandise alone.

“Ninety percent of our sales are clothing, so all of a sudden I’m in the clothing business,” he explained to Fast Company. “I’m looking at what we’re making for spring. I’m looking at hard goods, soft goods, how those goods are presented in my store; the function, the flow, the lighting, how it’s focused, where it’s at, how close is it to the cash register. I’m constantly having meetings with my team to know what’s selling and what’s not, and I just learned recently that our number-one-selling shirt doesn’t have our logo on it.”

Though, his new passion is restoring dilapidated real estate on Main Streets around the country. He told CBS Sunday Morning last year that he loves old to restore old buildings and convert them into something new.

“I love old buildings, they speak to me. They really have personalities,” he said. “And when I walk into a building that has such historic presence, it gives me the chills.

‘American Pickers’ Lies At The Heart Of His Empire

But despite all that he’s working on, American Pickers continues to be a font of seemingly endless free publicity.

“We’re on television now 20 hours a week!” he says. “Think about that. Think about if you’re Ford or Chevy, Lexus, whoever you are, whatever major corporation. Imagine trying to buy 20 hours a week of television, what that would cost you. You couldn’t do it. I don’t care who you are, you couldn’t do it consistently for almost six years. So for us, being a small business and having that type of exposure is crazy.”

Wolfe co-created the show and serves as star and executive producer. And now, he riding solo after falling out with former co-star and longtime friend, Frank Fritz.

Outsider.com