Thursday, June 4, 2015

Driving Down The Highway Of Pickers - Part 1

Mike Wolfe now has a blog of stories about picking.

He (or his staff) has called it "Two Lanes Blog."

I guess "A Pickers Journal" was taken...!  (More on that in a later post....)

Just click on that title to open a page to it, if you are so inclined.

And, no, I do not get any payments per click, referrals, mentions, or any other sort of compensation.

Thinking back, oddly enough, there were several of "us" (as  in pickers, dealers, etc) that "supported" Mike and the show when it first hit the airwaves. We certainly are not even half of why the show has done so well, but I'd like to think our enthusiasm, verbal support for, and word of mouth advertising for the show helped him get a firm footing on that creaky and fickle staircase to financial success and recognition.

I think the fact that "our profession" was finally being shown on TV as a legitimate business, and that we would (hopefully) now get some respect and acknowledgement from the general public, as well as the same from family members, most of which, being non "junkers", thought we were just weirdos, hoarders, eccentrics, garbage-pickers, etc.

It did accomplish that, and more.

Some of it was negative, some positive.

There has been growing pains, for sure.

We defended Mike when things appeared nasty.

Take for example, when Mike & Frank paid a "small amount" for a saddle (seems to me it was $75, or $20, something like that.)

Then an appraisal was done...and it was appraised at a 4 figure value!

 The fallout from the general public about that was nuts on the discussion boards of History Channel at the time. Those boards were taken down, and are likely no longer accessible anywhere. The hard drives with the data were  probably long shredded, too.

 "Crooks!", "thieves!", "scammers!" and assorted other not-so-complimentary as well as rather "blue" epitaphs were tossed at Mike & Frank  quite a bit, and had it been possible, some people were to the point of nearly burning them in effigy!

 Of course, being bound by contractual stuff for the show, and perhaps under advisement by legal counsel,  they didn't wade into the fray.

We (by "we" I mean various pickers, dealers, collectors and other experienced people of the antiques business) were the ones who dealt with that little shit-storm, and explained (and RE-explained X100) that all wasn't as it seemed, what the realities of this business are, pointed out the much higher mark-ups of assorted other resale businesses that they seemed to have no problems with, and the fact that it is business after all, so there has to be an appropriate profit margin involved.

We also pointed out that the seller himself quoted them the price  he wanted, which they paid.

One thing none of those "critics" really took into consideration was that, oddly enough, when put on the open market at auction, in this case eBay, it sold for not much more than they paid for it.

So, what about the appraisal of a 4 figure value?

The fact is, the appraisal wasn't at all accurate, for dried out, old saddle.

Basically the "appraiser" was basing his appraisal on what he knew and where his expertise happens to lie....

And that was with new & used working saddles.

 He was not an expert in antique & vintage saddles, nor antique western goods, nor Americana, nor decor items, etc,etc, etc...

SO, he had no background, nor knowledge as to the factors that actually makes some old/antique saddles valuable...and what makes others really just decorator items.

Anyway, back to Mike's blogging.

I am actually quite surprised it took this long for the "powers that be" to get him writing. I thought they would have pushed it right from the get go.

I wonder if he will be doing it himself, or if he is dictating, and has someone doing the typing, editing, etc?

He has the bucks to go that route, and I am sure his time tends to be limited, so he may be doing the blog posts on the fly, or someone else transcribes them from some other source he has, maybe somewhere he jots the stuff down, and someone else tidies it up, fixes grammar, spelling, etc?

He has done quite well for himself, and whatever you think of him, you do have to give him credit, he has worked hard, and is reaping the benefits.

Many of us, of course, also work very hard, maybe even some have worked harder  than Mike has,  and most of us haven't seen the same sort of success he has.

 Some pickers don't want the spotlight shone on them, for an assortment of reasons.

Some of us; yes, myself included, have tried hard to reach that level of success and recognition, but, for whatever assortment of reasons, haven't gotten that same sort of recognition.

"That's life."

"Luck of the draw."

"Just the way the cards are dealt."

Metal Man Mike is one I tripped across some time ago...just click on his name for his videos. I don't have any personal connection to him, but he is one of many characters around. He has one video on what not to do when approached by a production company, based on his personal experience.

Yes, I know I should have as many "picking" videos as he does. I never have gotten (yet) a "GoPro" type camera, and, well, getting bills paid has been more important.

I have a few videos, some badly produced, really shaky,and some, done by friends, are not bad.  One of the issues is the most interesting places I have picked can also be some of the most dangerous places...

So, I have to have both hands free...thus I don't want to be holding and aiming a camera!

Anyway, I guess a spotlight, recognition, Mercedes van, sponsor ships, substantial additional income, etc, is just not in the cards for some of us, or, perhaps, it is just not quite "our time."

I am not sure where my future lies, but wherever it lies, I am sure "old junk" of some sort will feature prominently!


  1. No updates for a while Bear. Everything Irie?

    Love reading up on your Picker stuff, even though I'm not a picker.

    1. Thanks! I sometimes wonder if anyone is reading what I do post! I will be adding more posts soon!