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The Untold Truth Of Robbie Wolfe

Mike Wolfe has been hosting History Channel's hit series "American Pickers" for over a decade. The show is all about traveling the country, finding antiques, meeting people, and telling stories. For years Wolfe hosted the show with his friend Frank Fritz, but after a nasty feud split their friendship, the show needed someone new to fill Fritz's shoes. Welcome Robbie Wolfe, Mike's brother.

The younger Wolfe is no stranger to "American Pickers." He's made appearances on the show for years, joining Mike and Fritz on some of their most exciting picks. Now he's bringing his enthusiasm and boundless energy to every episode of the latest season. Some fans are still deciding how they really feel about the show's latest change-up, but the Wolfe brothers are charging straight ahead in a new season of exciting finds and incredible stories. Robbie has a lot in common with his older brother Mike, but he's coming to the show from a different business background and with a different philosophy of what it means to be a picker. 

If you've been keeping up with "American Pickers," then you've seen Robbie Wolfe before, but now that he's here to stay, it's the perfect time to get to know the untold truth behind his story.

Mike says Robbie has more energy than him

Picking definitely isn't as easy as Mike Wolfe makes it look on "American Pickers." On the show, we see all the wheeling and dealing that goes into scoring a great item, but we don't see too much of what it takes to get to those moments. It's not just digging through piles of old junk in someone's attic or rotting barn. Finding something special involves getting up at four in the morning, driving across the country, and repeating the whole process day after day collecting enough antiques to keep a store up and running.

It's easy to imagine that of the Wolfe brothers, Mike has the most get-up-and-go energy since "American Pickers" started out in 2010 with him at the helm. To hear him tell it, though, Mike has a hard time keeping up with his younger brother Robbie. "He's always wearing me out," Wolfe said in an interview with Vegas Film Critic, adding, "He's always on a pick, or he's at a soccer game, or he's running another business that he has ... he's got way more energy than I do." 

Robbie has brought his energy to the show plenty of times before but now, as co-host, he has an opportunity to supercharge everything that "American Pickers" does, and he doesn't appear to be wasting any time. 

He runs his own businesses

Fans of "American Pickers" have seen Robbie Wolfe making guest appearances on the show for years, but he hasn't been spending his off time waiting in the wings for the next episode. Just like his older brother Mike, Wolfe is an entrepreneur with a passion for running his own businesses and being his own boss. For decades Wolfe has been running the landscaping company R.J. Wolfe and Sons. The company is based in Davenport, Iowa, not far from LeClaire where Mike Wolfe's main shop has operated for years. R.J. Wolfe and Sons serves the Quad Cities metropolitan area –- one of the busiest places in Iowa.

Wolfe hasn't limited himself to just working in landscaping. Like his older brother, Wolfe has a long history of passionate interest in antiques, and he has his very own shop where people can take a look at the items he's picked through the years. Wolfe has said that his shop is very different from his brother's because it's not the kind of place where customers are flowing in and out all day long. "I kind of have a shop that's, you know, it's off the beaten path." 

Luckily, Wolfe has decades of experience and connections, so he has no problem selling his most valuable picks. He usually already has a buyer in mind and says that he rarely finds the need to advertise one of his items, online or otherwise. 

He's a Hawkeyes fan

Robbie Wolfe is a skilled picker, professional landscaper, and car enthusiast, but even though fans are most familiar with what he does for work, those are far from his only interests. Like many midwestern dads, Wolfe is a big sports fan, and he follows college football in particular. Any Iowan knows there are only two real options if you want to support a college team: the Cyclones from Iowa State or the Hawkeyes from the University of Iowa. Judging by which home games he's attending and which team's logo he's posting on Instagram, it's safe to say that Wolfe is a Hawkeyes man through and through.

Parents almost always pass some of their interests to their children, and Wolfe's daughters in particular have picked up on his enthusiasm for sports. The girls play soccer, and Wolfe spends a good deal of his time going to their games and supporting them every step of the way. His ability to keep up with all his children while still running multiple successful businesses is what convinces Mike that Robbie is really the one with the most energy. If he's not out on a pick or working on one of his businesses, you'll probably find Wolfe on the sidelines cheering on his girls.

Picking goes to his roots

How does someone become a picker? For Robbie Wolfe, it all started when he was a kid. In an interview with Dr. Anthony Paustian, Wolfe told his picker origin story. "I put picking into a perspective of when I was a kid growing up and my brother and I, we didn't have a lot." Wolfe's mom got divorced when the kids were still very young, and she raised her boys by herself. Wolfe said that even though she worked hard to get her boys everything they needed, the kids often turned to garage sales hosted by "old timers" in town to find bikes and other goodies. According to Wolfe's website, the two learned how to repair those bikes to bring a little extra money into the family. 

Young Mike and Robbie might have shown up at those sales to get something for themselves, but that's not what got them hooked on picking. "They would tell stories of stuff, and you know, the stories I think intrigue us more than anything about some of the stuff that we buy or that we pick," Wolfe said. By talking to the old timers, Wolfe and his brother developed a passion for history and understanding how things came to be. The reason Wolfe and his brother seem to know something about every object they encounter in "American Pickers" is because they've been sifting through the past for their entire lives.

He's got specific tastes in cars

You don't even have to watch "American Pickers" to learn some things about Robbie Wolfe. Just a cursory glance through his Instagram posts reveals that he's borderline obsessed with classic cars. Of course, diehard fans of the show already know that Wolfe is more than just a car enthusiast, he's a genuine expert. Wolfe is basically a walking encyclopedia of old vehicles, and he's pretty handy when it comes to working under the hood, too. Like any car guy, though, Wolfe definitely has a specific era he favors, and it goes right back to his upbringing and the old timers who first gave him a passion for picking.

Wolfe told an interviewer that he's "a big hot rod guy," but his definition of the hot rod era is quite a bit more narrow than what most people would think. "For me, it started in the '30s ... I try and stay in the '30s and '40s." It just so happens that the cars Wolfe hopes to find today are likely some of the same models he saw sitting in garages as a kid just getting into the picking scene. Unfortunately, having such specific tastes means it's not every day that he finds a score worth getting excited about.

He doesn't love restoring cars

Robbie Wolfe's approach to dealing with the old hot rods he loves the most says a lot about his approach to picking in general. The Holy Grail for some car collectors would be a nearly hundred-year-old vehicle that's in good enough condition to be restored. Once they got it up and running, they'd fix up the interior, give it a coat of paint that looks original, and proudly display the prize piece of their collection at every opportunity. In Wolfe's mind, seeing an old car taken through that process is nothing short of a tragedy.

"Once you take the paint or the dust or the rust away, you just took the whole story away from it," Wolfe said on the interview show "A Step Beyond." When it comes to car restoration, Wolfe's goal is to "make it operable," nothing more and nothing less. The story of any item is always what's most important to him, so Wolfe wants to make sure to preserve the story of any vehicle he works on while also ensuring he can still cruise around in whatever exciting hot rod he's most recently discovered.

His son is a car enthusiast too

There are definitely perks that come with being a part of a show like "American Pickers." Robbie Wolfe gets to work alongside his brother, make exciting discoveries while meeting new people all across the country, and provide for his family all by doing just one job. One of the best perks for him is that there's always a chance the next garage he steps into will have a classic car, but he isn't the only Wolfe who's holding out hope for that. Wolfe's son, Rhesa Perry Wolfe, is also a car enthusiast, and his dad's job has put him in the driver's seat of some really special vehicles.

Just like how Wolfe passed his love of sports on to his girls, he's given his son the car bug. The two of them love finding, driving, and fixing up old cars, and Wolfe delights in sharing the work they do together on Instagram. Thanks to his dad, Rhesa has gotten his hands on some vehicles that would turn other enthusiasts green with jealousy. How many people get to check out a 1946 Hudson and a 1920s-era airplane on the same day? Wolfe loves getting to pick a new-to-him classic car, but the experience is made even more special by getting to share it with his son.

His rarest picks are advertisements

Robbie Wolfe has laid his eyes and hands on more valuable antiques than most people could ever imagine. He's spent decades as a collector, enthusiast, and salesman sourcing the best items he can find from across the entire country. That experience, combined with his passion for sports and cars, would lead some people to believe that his greatest finds have been incredibly valuable classic cars or unimaginably rare sports memorabilia. While he's definitely come across some exciting items in those categories, Wolfe actually tells a different story about his best picks.

When asked about the rarest items that he's ever found, Wolfe pointed to advertisements from a century ago. "You gotta remember in the early transportation age there was a lot of gas and oil companies that popped up across the United States, small mom and pop outfits." Over the years, Wolfe has stumbled on some of the metal signs made to advertise those small shops, and according to him, "That's some of the most highly collectible stuff in the country." Back in the '20s, no one could have imagined that their gas station sign would be worth a fortune in the future, but all that signage is an important part of the history that keeps Wolfe and other pickers on the road collecting.

Picking really is his greatest passion

After becoming a co-host on "American Pickers," it would have been easy for Robbie Wolfe to start viewing picking as just a job, but if anything Wolfe has become more committed to what he does. In an interview with Dr. Anthony Paustain, Wolfe said that what gets him out of bed each morning is "Trying to find that next pick." He said that years ago when his children were younger, the driving force in his life was making sure he could provide for his family. Now that his kids are growing up, and now that the show and Wolfe's businesses have given him financial security, he's able to fully focus on what gets him most excited in life.

For Wolfe, picking is about so much more than just finding a rare item and getting to put it in his shop. He said picking means "grabbing a cup of coffee, getting in my van, and heading down the road and wondering what am I going to find, what character am I going to meet today." Wolfe is in it for the stories and the people, and it doesn't hurt that no matter where he goes, "There's always good pie in America."

He's been investing in real estate

Over the years, as the popularity of "American Pickers" has grown, its hosts have started making more money from their work on the show. Robbie Wolfe hasn't publicly revealed how much he earns now that he's a regular part of the show, but in the wake of becoming a co-host, he's been getting attention for making some pretty large purchases. The Sun reported that Wolfe has spent more than $650,000 on real estate since 2017. His purchases range from a six-acre plot of land, a large commercial space in Davenport, Iowa, and a massive 3,700-square-foot home for his family.

Wolfe is clearly making the most of his contribution to the show, but fans are still uneasy with him working as Franz Fritz's replacement. Some even blame the latest season's ratings drop on Wolfe and have voiced their concerns online, begging the History Channel to bring Fritz back to the show (via The Sun). As much as Fritz's absence is felt on the show, there is something nice about seeing the Wolfe brothers getting to work together, and there's always a chance that Robbie Wolfe's latest purchases are laying the ground for a new "American Pickers" store.

He views himself as a caretaker

It should be clear by now that for Robbie Wolfe, picking is less about the items he finds and more about the stories that exist behind them. Of course, he loves finding cars from the '30s or rare gas and oil signs that are beyond collectible, but he never gets overly attached to any one particular item. More than anything, Wolfe wants to share what he finds with the world. On his website, Wolfe wrote that he believes telling the story behind the pieces he picks is why "I was put on this Earth."

In a larger sense, Wolfe thinks that everyone should be more focused on sharing stories than hoarding collectibles. "My brother will say it a million times, and I tell people all the time, we're only caretakers of the stuff that we have for a little while," he said in an interview. Wolfe isn't traveling the country finding picks for himself. He's out there so he can help "move it on to the next person, and let the younger generation be the next caretaker." 

Where some people see picking as a way to make a living, or even a fortune, by finding rarities, Wolfe sees the job as a way of bringing people together and connecting with them and with history on a deeper level.