A lifelong American picker, Mike has been combing through junk since the age of four. Over the years, he’s earned a reputation as one of the country’s foremost foragers, traveling coast to coast in search of forgotten treasures. Where other people see dilapidated barns and overgrown yards, Mike sees potential goldmines packed with rare finds and sensational stories.
Mike spends as much time as he can on the road, usually with Frank Fritz–his friend of 20 years and picking partner–in tow. “A picker’s kind of like a nomad,” he explains. Wherever they go, the two guys unearth hoards of unique items and spend some quality time with the offbeat characters who own them.
What exactly does Mike look for? “Anything I can make a buck on,” he laughs. That could be anything from antique baby carriages and vintage jukeboxes to old cars and scrap metal. Mike’s clients include interior designers, art directors, photographers and collectors. He also owns Antique Archaeology, a specialty shop that sells antiques, vintage items and folk art in sleepy Le Claire, Iowa.
As Mike sees it, pickers do all the dirty work but dealers and collectors get all the credit. But that doesn’t mean he’s any less passionate about his chosen field. “I love to find stuff,” he says simply.