There are two things you need to be a successful antique dealer-knowledge and money. The heroes of The History Channel’s American Pickers seem to have an endless supply of both. They also have a lot of time on their hands, as the point of American Pickers is that they are roaming near and far to sort through piles of junk for items they can resell for profit.
I like American Pickers and I have to admire the chutzpah of these two saps as they bang on doors and hand out their want list. I have yet to see them hit a big score from knocking on random doors. The main action happens when they spot a pile of rusty junk in someone’s yard and ask if they can dig around in it.
Antique pickers Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe find antique hoarders everywhere they go. There is a kind of Antiques Roadshow feel to their interactions with the owners as they try to one up each other on what the odd items are and what they are worth. As each show ends we see how the pickers have done with their buys. I was surprised that they are making so little on their finds, many times the profit is only $20 or $30 dollars, though they do hit bigger profits as well. But then, making small, fast profits is what antique picking is all about.
I’m a bit surprised that anyone still does picking, as its easy enough to go straight to the source and sell directly online. Pickers have traditionally sold their items for a lot less than retail, so they usually pay next to nothing for them in the first place. But that is true of most antique dealers, buy low and sell is not just for stocks.
American Pickers is fun and a little informative, though the odds of your finding any of the items these two find on a regular basis are pretty slim.