Two guys from Iowa in a familiar white van could be seeking collectibles in Mount Airy and Surry County this fall as part of a visit by the “American Pickers” television crew to North Carolina.
Their possible foray into Surry hinges on what sites are suggested locally for antique “picking,” based on information from representatives of the long-running series seen on The History Channel.
The format of the documentary show launched in 2010 features Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz driving around the country seeking what they call “rusty gold.” The two often venture to sites off the beaten path where they unearth — and give a new lease on life to — hidden treasures of historical or cultural significance.
They educate and entertain viewers during the various treks with interesting stories about their discoveries and the people behind them.
To ensure that “American Pickers” makes its way to Surry County, local residents are being urged to suggest prime locations for Mike and Frank to visit.
Particular items sought
Well-defined guidelines are in place for “American Pickers”:
• Only large private collections or accumulations of antiques that Mike and Frank can spend the better part of the day perusing will be considered, with no retail shops, flea markets or auction houses to be in the mix.
• No locations with only a small amount of items will be visited.
• In addition, “American Pickers” is not at this time interested in agricultural implements — with tools, glassware, appliances, stoves and country primitives also on the list of products not being sought.
Based on recent episodes, Mike and Frank tend to be excited by old signs, particularly those of an automotive nature, along with rare vintage autos and motorcycles, antique gasoline pumps, toys from earlier eras and pop culture collectibles such as movie memorabilia.
“We’re looking for leads throughout the region, specifically interesting people with interesting items and lots of them,” says an announcement from Cat Raynor, a casting associate with “American Pickers” who is based in New York City.
“We’d love to spread the word in your area as soon as possible, so the sooner people with collections reach out to us the better,” Raynor added.
Suggestions for sites to visit can be made by calling 1-855-OLD-RUST (653-7878) and leaving a recorded message, or emailing show representatives at [email protected]
Someone who has or knows of someone with large collections can include their names, telephone numbers, locations and descriptions of items with photos.
Raynor said Wednesday that the “American Pickers” travel schedule hasn’t been set, although the visit to North Carolina is scheduled for late November.
She mentioned that the exact location of stopovers depends entirely on the response show officials receive regarding collectors in particular areas, including Surry County. Once they begin connecting with those individuals, more will be known.
Mike and Frank, promoted as two of the most skilled pickers in the business, have visited North Carolina and Virginia in the past.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter