Don't be too dazzled by Mike's matinee idol good looks. He's after your grandmother's ring collection for $2.
As a thrifter and lover of old timey treasures, you'd think I would have been following American Pickers from the get-go. Not so. I'd heard about it, but could never find it on the TV dial, until last night when I stumbled upon the History Channel. I guess I never watch the History Channel. If you're living abroad and not sure of what it is, American Pickers is a show that follows two funny guys around the sheds and storage facilities in America, looking for cool, old junk that they can sell in their antique store back in Iowa. If you're interested in Americana and vintage goodies, it's required viewing. Still, I found that my heart broke a little when I watched Mike and Frank offer an old widow rock bottom prices for treasures her husband had collected. They were practically rubbing their hands together as they loaded the van and drove off, calculating how much profit they could make. Sure, they've got the expenses of running a business and they're trying to make a living. Also, some of the sellers they encounter ask extortion prices for their decaying ephemera... but still, it's pretty cut-throat. I for one could not bring myself to not buy something that I love and want to keep.Here is the perfect example of an old treasure that I'll never part with. My father is a real collector and he recently gave me this very old whistle. It's got the classic whistle shape and it's sturdy enough to survive a nuclear explosion.
Here's the best part. My father's Australian and look where it's from: Sydney, Australia. I love it. I'll have to ask him how how it came to him. How could I ever sell something like this?
It's called Aussie Thriller and if you look closely, you can still see the old cork ball inside.
On the other side of the love or sell debate, here are some vintage souvenir tea towels I bought at a garage sale in my neighbourhood a few years ago. The seller wanted $5 for each. It seemed a little steep given that it was a garage sale. You could tell she was a Martha Stewart-type who had done her research. "They're worth a lot more than that. They're collector's items." I'm loath to haggle over prices. I'm a take it or leave it woman. When you see how charming they are, you'll see why I gave her $10 for the pair. They make me happy. One day, I'll press these towels and mount them in frames.
I wish pickers would leave garage sales and thrift stores alone for the lovers, but it's a free world.
Anyway, I'll still keep on collecting for the love of it. I have no intention of ever opening up an antique store. For those of you who are amassing a collection of old things in your basement or garage, dust them off and enjoy them before it's too late. One day you'll be dead and the pickers will come-a-knocking.
Despite my mixed feelings about the way these guys do business, AP is a highly watchable show, so check your local listings. The History Channel has several episodes on AP's page. Canadian Pickers is starting this Tuesday. Ironically, the Canadian Picker guys look more American than the American guys, who describe themselves as "a couple of hayseeds from Iowa." The Canadians look like stand-ins from Bonanza.
Above: the Canadian Pickers. See, I told you they look like they're from Texas. This show is coming soon to a TV station near you - at least in Canada.