Why does anyone watch The History Channel’s American Pickers? It is basically just two guys traveling around in a van buying other people’s junk. Theoretically, they hope to make money restoring & reselling the junk sometime in the future, although that aspect of the show is not a big feature.
Despite this very simple premise American Pickers has been on the air for 6 years and is immensely popular. We decided to review it and find out why. It turns out that thee are a lot of reasons people love American Pickers. Here are seven..
- The cast of the show genuinely like each other. Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and Danielle Colby Cushman are friends and enjoy each others’ company. They seem like nice folks you would like to come over for a barbecue. There is no phony staged drama or conflict like you see on other “reality shows”.
- They don’t cheat the people they buy from. Mike & Frank try to buy something for $100 that they can fix and resell for $150. They are not trying to get a $10,000 item and cheat the seller by only paying $200. There are many times where they pay more than the asking price, when the seller is unaware of how valuable an object is. This is in stark contract to the people in Pawn Stars who cheat the sellers every chance they get .
- It is a very relaxing show to watch. Seeing Mike & Frank leisurely driving through beautiful rural parts of the United States is very soothing. It is the antithesis of modern fast-paced, high-pressure American life.
- Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz take the time to get to know people. A lot of the people Mike & Frank deal with are a little odd to say the least. Who can forget the episode where they met “Speedo”, an octogenarian who rode a motorcycle wearing nothing but a tiny yellow Speedo bathing suit. The highlight of the episode was Speedo speeding though the town on his motorcycle with Mike riding in the sidecar.
- Mike & Frank make new friends everywhere they go. Many of the sellers can be classified as “hoarders” rather than collectors. Some of these people have acres and acres of rusted junk yet don’t want to sell even the smallest piece no matter what price is offered. These people have to be slowly seduced into selling anything. Mike and Frank carefully listen and learn why the items are so precious to these people. Mike & Frank use the technique of “breaking the ice” by getting the hoarder to sell one tiny item first. Usually the owners will eventually sell items when they realize that Frank and Mike will love the objects too. Only then does the matter of price come up.
- Danielle Colby Cushman adds a touch of craziness to American Pickers. Danielle is an ex-burlesque dancer and has a passionate interest in the history of burlesque in America. She has even created documentaries on the subject. Her wild tattoos alone let the audience know that she looks at life a little differently than Mike & Frank. She finds many of the places for Mike & Frank to visit, and encourages them to go to new locations.
- There is a Treasure Hunt aspect to American Pickers. When Mike Wolf and Frank Fritz find a huge pile of potentially valuable items they refer to it as the “honey hole”. The Holy Grail they are searching for is “rusty gold”, which is a item that looks bad but is really a valuable antique.
- Fans can participate – American pickers has stores in Nashville, Tennessee and LeClaire, Iowa where fans of the show can buy items they have seen on the show. You can even buy on line. This gives watchers of the show a physical connection with the action on screen.
Of course, there are some parts of American Pickers than any business person will notice from a financial perspective. For instance, any company trying to maximize profits would not send 2 guys when you could do exactly the same job with just 1. There is also the issue that often tell you the “theoretical” profit they are going to make . Sometimes after the purchase they discover that what they thought was “rusty gold” turns out just to be rusty junk that is worthless.
Still; how to make money is not the point of American Pickers. The show is about taking a leisurely trip across the U.S. and making new friends along the way.
- read Pawn Stars – lessons on how to cheat customers
- read Naked and Afraid – the stupid show everybody watches
- See all our Reviews
- We give American Pickers 3 stars ***