Monday, March 1, 2010

American Pickers Antiquing Underground: Is It Time For The Show To Be Buried?

Is American Pickers Headed for The Junk Pile?

I have a confession to make. I fell asleep during some of The American Pickers episode tonight. I mean after all how many times can you watch Mike and Frank haggle with old prunes about rusty cans and advertising signs?

Junk Guy In The Purple Hoody Goes Underground

Right before I dozed off, I watched the part when Mike and Frank are carefully making their way through some underground tunnels hand dug by a dude in a purple hoody. This was somewhat of a bright spot in an otherwise sleepy show.

Quirky Junkster Digs Tunnels To Stash His Antiques

As the story was told, this quirky junkster has been digging tunnels under his property since the age of fourteen and buried his stash down there. And yes, our purple picker is still digging holes, just like my Sheltie Jacob.

Antiquing In Tunnels

Here is my big question for this evening, how the heck do they film these guys underground? How did they get lighting, crews, cameras etc through these narrow unstable pathways? And more importatnly, what happened when it was lunchtime? Did they order in Pizza and have the delivery guy send down the Pizza on a pulley? You know what I think....I think the pickers entered the underground "stockroom" from a opening in the house and that the entire "tunnel" scene was totally staged.

Claustrophobic Pickers

Frank said he was claustrophobic down there and that he wondered if he could squeeze through the narrow passage ways? I think the pickers showed up in the underground junk haven from another route, like maybe a door in the basement of the house?

Hoarders Or Collectors

But lets get down to basics now. How many times can we watch these likeable pickers do their picking dance with bona fide hoarders? It is pretty clear that the old gizzards who open their junk rooms to the pickers are really certifiable hoarders who have no interest in parting with or selling off their collections.

Is The Show Headed Soon To Be Buried?

These "junk guests" were booked for the wrong show. They belong on A&E's "Hoarders".
And if the writers of American Pickers don't start coming up with some fresh story lines, I'm worried the show may end up in its own junk pile.

For More on American Pickers read:

C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro cafĂ©.

To read more articles by C. Dianne Zweig click on this link:
C. Dianne Zweig’s Blog Kitsch ‘n Stuff

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  1. Personally I think its a farce. You have camera, action, film and stars (the pickers) then the owners. I think that its mostly planned and truthfully I am not that inspired by it. Just like the pawn-brokers show, thats all it is to me is a show. My bad :)

  2. I hope it goes away soon; shows like this give people the impression that this is how all dealers behave. The premise of offering pennies on the dollar to desperate folks (or the somewhat unhinged) gives a bad name to true dealers who pay a fair price for quality goods without cameras running. We can make a nice profit (doing taxes now so I know this is true) while still treating others fairly and in an ethical manner!

  3. Betsy, as usual, I am getting a little different take on the pickers. to me they seem very nice and fair. I do not see them taking advantage of any clueless or needy "desperate folks". I think the sellers are odd ducks and may have more money than we realize. These sellers fit the category of hoarders who are unable to let go of their possessions. If there is anything desperate about them it is there junking habits. They are way overboard. But I do not think they are being taken advantaged of. In fact I think it is the other way around, I think the pickers are being twisted around by the crusty old chaps.


  4. I have watched the pickers only once and was not very impressed. I agree that the sellers are really hoarders who do not have much desire to part with their junk. I was enthusiastic when the show first aired, but I too quickly lost interest. I have a friend who has a booth in an antique mall. I have gone to garage sales with her to look for items that she then sells to other antique dealers or sells in her own booth. That is fun because we looked for items that are currently "hot" but also keep an eye out for items we instinctively know will sell. It is more fun than watching the pickers deal with curmudgeons.

    Susan and Bentley
    PS: Now I am off to read your article about "Kitschy Kid Stuff". My eyes have been wondering off to it while posting this comment!

  5. I was really excited about this show at first. I've watched it twice I think, and it's just not grabbing me. I feel sorry for the old folks, and I almost feel like they are being taken advantage of. Wouldn't you feel pressured to say yes to selling something if you were in front of a camera? I really wish that HGTV would step up and have a show about thrifting!

  6. I like the Pickers show. After all aren't all of us antique and collectable dealers pickers too! We may not have the luxury of being able to drive around the country in a van,but when we go to garage sales, estate sales, auctions, antique stores, or advertise and buy dierctly from the buyer we are picking also. I think the pickers are fair and not taking advantage of the hoarders. They do what I do, ask the seller what he wants for the item. If the seller wants too much, they bargain and if no deal is made they walk. I do too, I will ask them how much they want for a box lot of toys or dolls and if they say $50 and I know it is worth $500, I feel it is a fair trade between seller and buyer and will take it. I am not taking advantage of them or are the pickers, we have put time and money and years of experience to know what something is worth. We are not conning them and say that item is only worth $50 when we know it is worth $500. We are letting the seller make the decsision. I think the show is realistic, if you can double your money for something then it is worth buying. Once in awhile like when the picker buying the black americana toy paid much to much for it, even though he could have made a profit, I would not have bought it for that much. As far as the eccentric guy in the purple hoodie, I thought some of that was BS. It was interesting but as someone said above to get the lighting for filming down there in these little tunnels had to be pre planned. I also don't believe when the old man says this room took exactly 6000 boards to make, and he dug it all himself with a shovel. Also at each point going undergroung he said we are excatly so many feet underground. How did he know that? Then he had told them they were going into a coal mine,before they wnet down there, so was all the underground rooms the coal mine, and he said he made them into rooms? Then he did not dig it did he? As from a womans point of view some of the stuff they pick, like rusty old signs and junk parts, is not something I would want. I would not pay much for a rusty anything. I think they should alternate with one week men pickers and one week woman pickers. I think the smartest one on the show was the woman who had the barns. She and hubsband sounded the smartest, they pay for the old, dilapadated barn, just paying for the barn and getting everything inside it for free. The they dismantle the barn and sell the old barnwood, which a lot of people decorate with and you can make good profit off it, plus they have the entire contents of the barn to sell. To me they seem like the smartest pickers of all, last nite on the show!

  7. I enjoy the show....I do the same thing just at garage sales and estate sales.

  8. I have gotten bored with the show and it isn't even that old yet! How many different ways can you show them picking through people's junk and still keep it fresh or even exciting? For me, the honeymoon is over for this show and I won't be going out of my way to watch it again.

  9. I guess I'm the opposite, Diane! I was bored by the first show, but have become more interested as the series has gone on. I look at it as a fairly painless way of educating myself, but I do like Pawn Stars and Antiques Roadshow much better. I agree that there must have been another way into that underground storeroom!

  10. I guess I'm one of the few here who really likes this show. They are a lot nicer than the pickers I used to deal with back when I worked at an antique shop.

  11. I like this show and have never gotten the sense that the pickers were trying to take advantage of anyone. They knock on doors, introduce themselves, produce a flyer listing items they are searching for, and ask politely if they can look around. Then they find a couple of beat-up, rusty things and make a reasonable cash offer or do a little baseline economic back and forth with the potential seller and occasionally score some things for thier inventory. Frankly, I wish the people who attend my biannual garage sale would be as cheerful and polite. What would be fun would be an episode wherein they sell some of their picks to a dealer/collector.

  12. They are buying stuff they know about, they probly do not know the cloth stuff, the kitch stuff,

    I have been buying that so called "Junk" rusty stuff, the stuff out of the old barns, sheds, yards for about 40+ years, 30 years ago I would not have looked twice at modern glass, the stuff made after depression glass, clothes, fabric stuffs, but now later we are buying it all maybe not everything but lots more then we used to buy,

    Dianne, what if they find a wharehouse full of 1960's clothes, pyrex, glass, kitchen Junk, would you be interested then Dianne?

    Craig Phillips
    B & C Emporium

  13. you know i like the idea of the show .. but i have missed every episode .. i end up watching reruns of it on mondays during the day .. then get busy and forget to catch the new episode .. the episodes i have been able to watch always left me feeling like they left something out .. steps removed ..left me disappointed i have said before .. i really don't know many pickers who drive around in mercedes trucks and stay in nice hotels .. most i know drive all night to get home .. sleep in their truck .. sleep at a rest stop .. and drive old trucks or vans ..


  14. I've never seen this your retro red kitchen ideas!

  15. too much motor head stuff.....way too contrived and it follows a narrow theme of a grizzly old guy, a farm in never never land and some old rusty American mechanical stuff....also doorknockers get shot at once and a while in that part of the country....would be a nice touch eh?

  16. I was on American Pickers in the episode where one of them buys a 1939 Plymouth out of a cellar in Mayland. It was filmed at my mother's house in Westford Massachusetts. These are nice guys, Yes, they made money off of us, but that IS what the show is about! Isn't that what the business is about? If people didn't make money at antique shops, or second hand shops, (or an business)they wouldn't do it. I run a flea market/second hand shop in Phillips Maine. I NEED to make money to stay in business. They bought a bike from me, that they made $270.00 on. I found it by the side of the road, I paid nothing for it, and only picked it up to save it from going to the dump. They also had a market/buyer for it. I had it at a yard sale, and no one even asked about.

  17. I enjoy watching the show, but what I really want to know is how buys this stuff??? I'd like to a show watching them sell the items they pick.

  18. The only thing better than watching the pickers is picking myself. Sometimes they get me in the mood to go the next day if possible. It's like watching the cooking station, makes me go and try new recipies. Should I shut off the tube?