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‘American Pickers’ choose return trip to area

By Michael Johnson michaeljohnson@civitasmedia.com

March 2, 2014

OHIO VALLEY — Mike and Frank are returning to southern Ohio soon.


Uh, who?


Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, better known to many people as “modern archaeologists” on their hit TV show “American Pickers” on History Channel, plan on a return trip to the area — and they’re searching for some vintage material.


The two pickers have made a fairly decent living traveling the back roads of America in search of treasures that people have tossed out as garbage or relics from a bygone era that they simply just forgot about. The pair knock on doors, dig through storage barns, attics, crawl spaces, warehouses and junk yards in search of forgotten treasures. The dirty, rusty treasures and antiques they pull out of these places are not just given a new life; they’re saved for future generations to appreciate. Along the way, the Wolfe and Fritz meet the amazing people and interesting places that make America unique.


According to Barbara Roush, of the Meigs County Chamber of Commerce, Wolfe and Fritz visited the area about four years ago when they featured Charles W. Hawk, of Athens.


Hawk, who passed away in early 2011 shortly after appearing on “American Pickers” operated two stores — Charlie Hawk’s Junk Store — in Athens and another in Middleport.


“When I received the email (Monday), I said, ‘Oh my, I can’t believe they’re coming back,’” Roush said. “Mr. Hawk passed away, but he has a store that is absolutely crammed full of his stuff. When (Wolfe and Fritz) were here before, they would pick up things and he would dicker with them about the price. I plan to let them know about the Middleport store. They might want to spend some more time there.”


Roush said she has spread the word via social media and on the chamber’s website that the “pickers” plan a return to the area — as long as it’s worth their while.


Amanda Crouse, director of the Gallia County Convention and Visitors Bureau, has done much of the same and is vigorously trying to locate willing county residents participants.


“It’s our responsibility to find people in Gallia County that fit the criteria that they’re looking for,” she said. “We have several people who are interested and have some of the things they’re looking for. It’s up to the scouts. We will know more once they actually meet with people and make their selections. They will keep us up to date with it.”


On Tuesday, representatives of “American Pickers” will visit locations in Kentucky, Tennessee and southern Ohio. After a couple of weeks, show officials begin scheduling interviews based on lists of willing participants compiled by local chambers and visitors bureaus.


“They’ll sit down with people, discuss what they have and take a tour of the location,” Crouse said. “At that point, a time will be scheduled when Mike and Frank will visit selected participants and film the show.”


“American Pickers” is looking for people with large collections, Crouse said, because “they won’t come for only one or two pieces because it won’t be worth their time.”


Some items the show’s producers are looking for include motor scooters, unusual radios, items that predate 1970 and earlier, old movie posters, vintage movie memorabilia and much more. See the information box attached to this story for the complete list.


Things the show isn’t looking for, according to Anthony Rodriguez, casting associate producer for “American Pickers,” include farming/agricultural items, tools, glassware, appliances, tractors, crocks, stoves and country primitives.


All told, the “American Pickers” could be filming shows in the area within four weeks, Crouse said.


“It’s exciting,” Crouse said. “The catch is we have to find people who are willing to be on TV to tell their story.”


Stories and people, according to Anthony Rodriguez, casting associate producer for “American Pickers,” is what the show is really after.


“We are looking for people with barns warehouses, buildings full of odd, unique, and interesting collections. We also love to explore the history of the locations tied to the items,” he said. “Of course, we are always looking for great characters.”


“We don’t want to miss the opportunity,” Crouse said. “(People with the sought-after collections) are here. I haven’t personally been through peoples’ things, but there are collections in Gallia County. We just need people to step forward. It’s good exposure for us.”


Crouse would like to see at least 20 people step forward and participate.


“We don’t want it to become a process of elimination. We don’t want Kentucky to have 50 (people) and we only have three,” she said. “It won’t even be worth there time to come here.”


Gallia County residents interested is being considered for the show should contact Crouse at (740) 446-6882 or via email at amandacrouse@visitGallia.com; or Michelle Miller at the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce at (740) 446-0596, or via email at mmiller@galliacounty.org.


Folks in Meigs County are encouraged to contact Roush at (740) 992-5005.