American Pickers, Antique Archaeology, Columbia Motor Bikes
Leiper's Fork, Tenn.
No one knows small-town America better than Mike Wolfe, creator and star of American Pickers. Many of us know about the popular History Channel show that follows Wolfe and childhood friend Frank Fritz as they travel backcountry roads searching for antiques and their respective stories, but you might be surprised by the other project’s up Mike’s sleeve:
Many of the items purchased on the show are sold at Wolfe’s store, Antique Archaeology, which has locations in Nashville and Le Claire, Iowa.
Wolfe partnered with the National Trust to promote the Trust’s “This Place Matters” grassroots campaign.
Wolfe plays a critical/influential role in the revival of Columbia, Tennessee, investing in the restoration of some historic buildings and businesses there. Perhaps most notable is Columbia Motor Alley, one of his latest restoration projects located on Columbia’s public square, which was formerly an old Packard dealership.
You’ll often find Wolfe telling the tales of his back roads adventures on this blog, On Two Lanes.
"My batteries get charged by looking at old things in new ways.”
"Pennsylvania is my favorite state for picking. It's town after town and dirt road after dirt road. Plus, everything is so much older. I've found my best picks by driving to the middle of nowhere, then taking the first gravel road I see."
Why are rural downtowns important?
“When people think about main streets and downtowns, they don’t think of the ripple effect. The amenities that are on Main Street, the specialty retail and the architecture and all that, are what drives people wanting to live there and build homes there and move their corporations there.
“All of that is the Main Street, the historic part of town—it’s the honey to all the bees. We need to save small-town America, man. Because that’s the roots of our country.”