How To Start Your Own American Pickers Business

How To Start Your Own American Pickers Business

Like many reality shows, owning a business seems like non-stop fun. This is particularly so on “American Pickers” where two guys, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, travel around like eager adolescents buying cool stuff. This show appeals to history buffs, collector nerds, and entrepreneurs who see this as a great way to make lots of money reselling items. Most of us have to be content poking through neighborhood garage sales and flea markets only to find lots of trash mixed in with few treasures. And yes, there are many collectors on shows like “Hoarders” but these collections are mixed in with rat dropping and mold so making any money on that stuff, even if it was once valuable, is questionable. So what would it take to start your own “Picker” business?

There are lots of factors to consider.

You Need Some Real Money

Ever notice how money seems to be no object to Mike? He seems to be ruled by emotion, not by a budget of any kind. Yes, he talks about the possible resale price but he will swing “bargains’ with collectors that are not always in his financial interest because he finds something nostalgic from his childhood or basically anything to do with motorcycles. Many of these bargains constitute a week’s pay at least earned by folks in the ordinary workforce.

You Need Experts

Although you might be an expert on antique bikes, you might not know how to authenticate an old soda sign or letter to a Civil War General. You need to have a bevy of experts on hand, from history professors to antique dealers to authenticate items. Although the “experts” seem to have a casual easygoing relationship with the Picker guys, they get compensated for their expertise. Sorting through the bogus is a painstaking exercise.

You Need Fitness and Freedom To Travel

This business would be okay for a retiree who is in super shape both physically and financially. Unless your picker partner is your spouse, you will be spending lots of time apart as once you pick through every collection in your home city, you have to branch out. This would be hard for your kids who would either be home schooled on the road or be stuck at home and rarely see you. It’s a steep price to follow your dreams sometimes. You also need to be able to crawl around a junk pile and enjoy the experience.

You Need Mega Storage Space

You really can’t start a picker business out of your garage, unless you live alone and park your personal vehicle on the curb. Goods that are worth anything ideally need to be stored in a climate controlled shop or warehouse. You also need a large truck to transport the large items and ideally some big guys to move the heavier items.

Overhead Costs

Besides the money to buy the picked items, you need a business license, you need to pay rent on facilities, taxes, insurance, transport charges, professional restoration fees, and, you need to have someone “running the store” while you are away, and hopefully not rob you blind so you will need to pay them well to essentially make decisions while you are away.

You Need Patience

Have you ever noticed that some of the sellers on the show seem to just want to get their mug on TV? They say they have the stuff to sell but once the pickers get there they give them the run around as if they just wanted someone to talk to about their cool possessions. There is a lot of hit and miss with most of the misses being edited out for time constraints.

Ideally, You Need a Network Show

If you have a show promoting your business, you will have lots of free marketing and have everyone flooding your inbox or that of your producers, telling you they have amazing stuff to sell. The guys from “American Pickers’ are famous now, and you can be too if you have everything it takes.

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