Going around the country collecting old items sounds like an unlikely plan for anyone, except for the cast of “American Pickers”. Ever since the show premiered on the History Channel, Mike Wolfe and his co-stars have had the greatest time picking, restoring, and selling some of the rarest but surprisingly precious items of America’s history.

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Known for its stars’ sense of humor and impressive ability to identify the best items in abandoned storage rooms, garages and barns, there’s no doubt that “American Pickers” has gained the hearts of countless people all around the world, and a stable and loyal audience which doesn’t seem to get bored of all the adventures which make the show so great.

So how did the show start, and which are its most remarkable moments throughout its years on air? Who are its current stars, and who have left, and what does the future have in store for “American Pickers”? Stay here to know it all!

How Did The Show Start?

The  TV industry is vast, highly profitable but competitive, making it difficult for newcomers to create a spot for themselves in the business.

Long before “American Pickers” became a fully-fledged TV show, Mike Wolfe had the idea of filming the activities at his Iowa-based Antique Archaeology shop, waiting for the right chance to sell the concept to a production company. Getting his first helping hand from a college guy who produced independent videos for a living, Mike started developing a concept, and shared it on his business website.

Soon enough, Mike’s videos attrated the attention of a local TV producer, but who wanted to take the show somewhere Mike didn’t want to go, then he signed with another production company which wasn’t into the project as Mike wished, and no network was picking up the show’s reel he had spent so long preparing, as he recalled in an interview with Script Magazine in 2013.

Despite the inconveniences, Mike wasn’t giving up yet. He eventually contacted producer Sara Kosak, who connected him with Cineflix, and filmed Mike and Frank Fritz during a New York trip searching for antiquities. The footage was put together, and before Mike knew it, he had a show named “American Pickers” on the History channel.

Mike’s Business

As seen in “American Pickers”, business is an important part of pickers’ lives and the one thing out of which he makes a living. In the case of Mike Wolfe, his shop Antique Archaeology was just the logical move he had to take after years of being in the picking and antiquity buying and selling business.

Everything goes back to Mike’s childhood, as at the time he would find everything exciting, from old bicycles to bottles. While others thought about them as trash, Mike found these articles beautiful, and felt a sense of accomplishment at bringing them home.

Despite starting a bicycle dealership later in life, Mike never forgot about picking. His business eventually expanded from common bicycles to vintage ones, then added old bikes and scooters which he would sell to make a little extra money. His passion had already become bigger than he thought, so Mike just closed his old shop and started picking up stuff all around the country in his van.

That’s how Antique Archaeology began, though the shop still needed to go through many changes before becoming what it is nowadays. In 2011, Mike moved the business from Iowa to Tennessee, where he moved after falling in love with Nashville.

Besides being the center of “American Pickers”, Mike’s business is nowadays more than just an antiquity shop, as it features a wide variety of local articles, and promotes local artists and artisans.

Who Is Frank Fritz?

Ever since the show’s premiere in 2010, Frank Fritz was the perfect sidekick of the show. With his knack of finding valuable small articles, and great sense of humor, Frank became a fan favorite in no time.

While it was believed that Frank and Mike worked together, the truth is that both men had separate businesses, and only joined forces while searching for items on the road. Frank’s shop, Frank Fritz Finds, initially started as an online platform, eventually becoming a physical shop based in Illinois.

Just as his fellow star Mike, Frank started in the antiquity business at an early age, eventually turning that passion into a real job. The premiere of “American Pickers” not only up-lifted Frank’s business popularity-wise, but also allowed him to use his fame to spread awareness about important issues such as Crohn’s disease, an illness he’s been dealing with for over three decades.

Since the show’s debut, Frank’s changed his lifestyle to deal with the disease more easily: ‘on the outside you can’t really tell, but I’m working really hard to stay in control as much as I can’, he said in 2013.

Who Is Danielle Colby?

One thing for sure about “American Pickers” is that it wouldn’t be the same if Danielle Colby wasn’t there. She’d been friends with Mike Wolfe for several years before the show premiered, and was offered a place in it once History bought the show in 2010.

While her work in “American Pickers” consists of picking up leads for the pickers to follow, she’s so much more than just a girl taking phone calls in an office.

A native of Iowa, Danielle Colby is a retired roller derby skater and remarkable burlesque performer, founder of the Iowa-based Burlesque Le Moustache troupe. As she said in an interview with River Cities’ Reader in 2010, her fascination with burlesque art started as a child, but didn’t develop until attending a show in Chicago and becoming enthralled by it: ‘I went into that evening thinking that burlesque was taboo and wrong and bad. But what I realized after I left that event was how absolutely liberating it was,’ she said.

Besides establishing and touring with her burlesque troupe as her artistic persona Dannie Diesel, in the early 2010s, Danielle started a clothing line named 4 Miles 2 Memphis. Though that business was short-lived, Danielle now designs, creates and restores Burlesque vintage costumes through her online shop.

Current Cast

Mike Wolfe and Danielle Colby are currently active cast members of “American Pickers”, but the same can’t be said about Frank Fritz.

As it happened, Frank disappeared from the show in the middle of the 20th season, which aired in March 2020. Frank’s initial departure was caused by a back surgery he underwent at the time, which required him to stay away from the road for several months.

Nonetheless, by the time the 21st season of “American Pickers” premiered in early 2021, Frank told The Sun that he hadn‘t been contacted to return. Furthermore, several months passed in June Mike announced that Frank was no longer part of the show: ‘I will miss Frank, just like all of you, and I pray for the very best and all good things for him in the next part of his journey’, he wrote in a statement.

Frank’s exit from the show annoyed fans no end, especially following his claims about not having a good relationship with Mike in recent years.

Frank was eventually replaced by Mike’s brother Robbie, who along with Danielle and new regular cast member and antiquity expert Jon Szalay, take turns in accompanying Mike during his road trips.

The Show’s Future

In 2023 “American Pickers” premiered its 23rd season, marking its 13th consecutive year on air.

That being said, the show’s future has been unclear for a while. Although at the time of Frank Fritz’s firing it was made clear that the production had no plans for him to join the series in the future, the situation took an unexpected turn not long afterwards. As it happened, in July 2022 Frank suffered a stroke, leaving him with ‘impaired decision-making’ and under the guardianship of his friends, as reported by The Sun in early 2023.

While Frank’s return to the series seems unlikely due to his serious health condition, Mike affirmed in an early 2023 Instagram comment that he missed his old friend in the show just as the audience did, awakening the hope that long-time fans have of seeing both men back together on the small screen.

Whether Mike and Frank could fix their friendship for the show’s sake is yet to be known, but one thing for sure is that both gave their fans too many good moments on TV. From their beginnings as newcomers trying to get their show picked-up, to becoming internationally-famous reality stars, the cast of “American Pickers” is definitely deserving of all the success the show has brought them.

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