Editor's Note: Opportunities in the Business of History Entrepreneur Magazine editor Amy Cosper on Mike Wolfe and how his passion for old stuff is fueling excitement in antiques and collectibles
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On most days, Mike Wolfe is far from the geek-chic slickness of Silicon Valley where most innovators hang. You're more likely to find him in tiny towns like Bristol, Tenn., foraging through other people's junk--looking for rusty, bumpy, faded gems that will fetch a healthy price for his business, Antique Archaeology. But don't let the "Antique" portion of his company's moniker mislead. This is not your doily-collecting type of antique enterprise.
You may recognize Wolfe as the head picker on History channel's American Pickers. He makes his living negotiating and collecting people's junk (or "man-tiques," as he prefers to call the relics). And the stuff he collects is legendary. To most undiscerning observers, a Dukes of Hazzard TV tray and matching lunchbox might sound like a disposable tribute to days long past. But to Wolfe, those are the kinds of treasures that surprise and delight.
In a sagging economy that smacks of a double dip, there is something poignant and appealing about Antique Archaeology. And there is something to be said for preserving some tangible parts of our unique and quirky heritage (for a price, of course). In an age defined by technology and communication, the lost art of buying and selling stuff is a refreshing bit of nostalgia.