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Do The American Pickers Really Drive Everywhere?

On the History reality series American Pickers, longtime buddies Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz cruise around the countryside looking for garage sales, estate sales, packed attics, and any other locations they think they might find trash that can be turned into treasure. With the help of their office manager Danielle Colby, the pair make a decent living buying and selling antiques and long-forgotten pieces of Americana — but since this is reality television we're talking about, some fans rightly question just how much of what they see is, well, reality.

There have even been accusations that the show is totally staged, which we'll get to in a moment. But one of the burning questions viewers have had since the series' 2010 debut: do these guys really drive all over the place, or are the driving segments just there to showcase their amusing banter?

Well, in a 2012 appearance at Iowa City's FRY fest, Fritz regaled the crowd with stories of the Pickers' life on the road. They do, indeed, drive everywhere, he said — but what the TV audience doesn't see is the fleet of vehicles that travels with them, which typically includes a motor home, a bunch of vans, and a U-Haul truck. Fritz also admitted to one little detail that is often staged: when you see the guys stuffing a big, heavy purchase into the back of their van, they'll often drag it right back out again once the cameras have stopped rolling, and transfer it to the U-Haul (via HooplaNow).

This raises the question: what else is being staged here? This is TV, after all; would American Pickers' producers go so far as to plant interesting things for the guys to find? 

Mike, Frank, and Danielle insist the show isn't staged

It's been alleged by some of the ordinary folks who have appeared on the show (like Ken Young, whose toy shop was featured in an episode) that this is the case — but Wolfe, Fritz, and Colby all insist that this is a bunch of baloney. They say that when the producers set their sights on a destination, there is often only a phone call or an email exchange to warn whatever junk collector or antique shop owner the crew will be visiting that the guys are on the way — and according to Colby, they really do attempt to resell everything that you see Fritz and Wolfe buying on the show at their Antique Archaeology shop.

"There are rumors as to whether the business is real or if it's just for TV," Colby said in a 2013 interview. "It is real, we actually do work there, we do depend on it for our livelihood" (via Chattanooga Times Free Press).

So, while some of the rough edges of the Pickers' daily grind are understandably sanded smooth for television, you won't catch Wolfe and Fritz hopping on a plane to go "discover" a valuable "find" which has been shipped to a TV-ready "collector" by the show's producers. By and large, what you see on American Pickers is what you get — although Fritz did note to the FRY fest crowd that the series' editors have an annoying habit of nixing what he considers to be some of their best jokes. We'll leave it to you to decide just how much of a loss that really is.

Could you get Mike and Frank to come pick your collection?

Well, then, you may be asking: if the American Pickers really do cruise all over the place looking for finds, could I get them to come take a look at my collection? The answer: maybe, but you'll have to get in line. The show's popularity means that the pair don't have too tough a time finding potential sites to pick over; Wolfe has said that they receive up to 10,000 emails a week from fans wanting to get... er, picked, and that was way back in 2011. However, you might have a leg up on the competition if you happen to have a vintage motorcycle or two. 

If you do, you can visit Antique Archaeology's website, and fill out a handy form for Wolfe to look over. There's a separate form for non-motorcycle items which you think may be of interest to the Pickers, but if you're a fan of the show, then you know how Wolfe feels about those antique motorcycles — and the older and rarer, the better.

Can you actually buy the items that the Pickers find on the show?

If you happen to live near one of the two Antique Archaeology locations, you may even be able to get your hands on some of the items featured on the show. Like Colby said, their search for finds is no gimmick; they sell what they find, because even though they earn a decent salary from their network, it's probably not enough to keep two retail locations up and running, and to finance frequent jaunts all over the country.

The original location is in LeClaire, Iowa, with a second in Nashville, Tennessee. We know what you may be thinking: yes, there is an online store, but that's mostly for those looking to score Antique Archaeology and American Pickers merchandise. According to the site, most of the finds picked by the Pickers sell too fast once they arrive in-store to put them up for sale online.

So, if you want to pay a visit but don't live near one of those two areas, then we suppose it's time for you to saddle up for a little road trip of your own. Or, just catch the guys where most everyone else does: on the tube. New episodes of American Pickers air every Monday on History.