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Issue Date: February 2014

Junk Yarn

by Barry Goodrich

Frank Fritz has spent 30 years rummaging through backwoods barns and dilapidated sheds, collecting signs, beer cans and thousands of motorcycle toys — items that tell unusual stories of America and its citizens. On the History Channel’s popular American Pickers, the 50-year-old Fritz and Mike Wolfe drive more than 50,000 miles per year on a quest to discover everything from old oil cans to dinosaur bones. “We’ve had guns pulled on us, and dogs come after us,” says Fritz from his home in Davenport, Iowa. “There’s a reason these people are off the beaten path.” Fritz, who appears at the Great Big Home & Garden Show Feb. 15, shares his thoughts on the joys of junk.

→ ON PICKING: “One man’s junk is usually one man’s junk. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it is worth money.”

→ ON LOCATION: “Once you take something out of its region, it loses value. Turquoise doesn’t sell well in Iowa.”

→ ON NEGOTIATION: “Dealing with the people on the show is like a blind date. You can tell in about two minutes if it’s going to go well. We look for older homesteads. I can tell if someone owns the house or rents it. You don’t want to see satellite dishes or new trucks in the driveway.”

→ ON COLLECTING: “I’ve only bought two new things in my life — canned goods and underwear. Money is boring. I’d rather have something to look at.”

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