How Mike Wolfe From American Pickers Got Into Antiquing

Over the past decade or so, a new type of niche programming has become popular in the reality TV genre. Shows like "Antiques Roadshow," "Storage Wars," and "American Pickers," among others, have highlighted the hobby/industry known as "antiquing" — finding artifacts that had been sitting around gathering dust, cleaning them up, and reselling them for profit. It may seem like a foolproof business model — "buy low, sell high," as the old saying goes — but it actually takes a trained eye and a decent knowledge of antiques and artifacts to make it even remotely profitable.

Mike Wolfe is one of the people in the industry who knows his stuff, which is, of course, why he and co-host Mike Fritz are the face of the A&E series "American Pickers." As History notes, Wolfe and his partner scour junkyards, basements, barns, and anywhere else in search of junk that can be fixed up, restored, and sold for profit. And it's a continuation of a money-making scheme that Wolfe landed on as a young boy.

Mike Wolfe started upselling junk bicycles as a young lad

Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, Mike Wolfe was a young boy in rural Iowa. One day, according to Outsider, fate intervened in his life. "I was walking to kindergarten, and it was one of those big garage sale trash days. You know, where everybody throws everything out on the curb. I saw an old bicycle and I wanted it," he said. He later sold the bike for $5, according to Living 101. Having literally made something from nothing, Wolfe was hooked on his new business model, and soon enough, he was bothering neighbors, entreating them to let him scour their fields, barns, etc. for abandoned bikes. He'd buy them for a small price, fix them up, then resell them at a huge markup, setting the economic foundation for his future career.

In fact, Wolfe's relationship with bicycles would carry through his entire professional life. As a companion Outsider article notes, he eventually purchased a bike shop in Tennessee. Of course, along with motorcycles, Wolfe is particularly drawn to bicycles during his picking travels.