Tag: Antique Archaeology
The answer far too often is no. The large number of antiques-related shows on television about antiques are indication antiques are a growing part of the popular lexicon. Yet arriving in Nashville at the start of antiques week, I couldn’t find a local who knew it was antiques week.
The driver of the hotel shuttle, for example, asked why we were in town. “For Antiques Week,” I said, pointing out there were big shows in Hendersonville, at the Gaylord and in Nashville. The word antiques was immediately related to the History Channel’s American Pickers. For the record, the driver also didn’t know the show’s Mike Wolfe has opened a branch of his store in Music City.
There were of course plenty of folks out there who did like antiques, and knew it was Antiques Week, because there didn’t seem to be any shortage of patrons on the show floors. Yet it is an indication that those in the industry continue to talk to the same audiences, and it goes to show that sites like NashvilleAntiquesWeek.com are needed to reach out to the next layer- people in the vintage, gallery and museum world’s– and beyond. More cross-promotion is needed as is an increased awareness among the general public and an effort to translate someone who “likes American Pickers” into someone who stands in line at a show looking for good stuff.
In short, the guy driving this van needs to know.
I know the great feeling that can come from collecting. I got it from my father who collects toy trains. It feels really good when you find something you perceive is really good. For me its something of some quality with a really good story. I felt this way in Nashville when I found such a thing at the Heart of Country show.
American Pickers are fun. It takes a lot of time to pick, however. It’s not true that everything at a show has been picked over, or that it’s priced at the top of its value. It’s not true, at least not universally true, that you can get better deals at auction. Remember dealers are an older breed, and many of them are not online. Many of the people they buy from are not online.
The truth is dealers pick at shows. There’s a well-worn saying that if two antiques dealers were stranded on an island they would both have a viable business. Dealers have their own specialties, and many bring things outside of these specialties. Dealers also like to exhibit shows they can also shop at. I personally witnessed items move from one show to another in Nashville, and many others move from one booth to another, or go into the truck for display at the next show.
Most people don’t have the time to pick from barns across the heartland. We rely on the eyes of dealers. Dealers have a curatorial instinct and they do much of the picking for us. We go to events like those of Nashville’s Antiques Week and find the things we best relate to.
The truth is, ours is the fun part. More of us need to be aware of how much fun it is. They need to know it’s Antiques Week and that it’s a time when there’s lots to be found, and lots of fun to be had.
On July 2, 2011, Nashville, Tennessee welcomed her newest business: Antique Archaeology. Owner Mike Wolfe of History Channel’s American Pickers, has long had a relationship with Nashville, with antique dealers, designers, sellers and private customers.
Wolfe has owned the parent store of Antique Archeology in LaClaire, Iowa for about five years. Since the debut of American Pickers, the store has not only gained in popularity, it has turned LaClaire into a destination in the midst of the prairie. The success of that first store led to the grand opening in Nashville. When Mike planned to open this shop, his intention was to create a ‘vintage experience’. He has succeeded, and then some.
When you make your turn off Charlotte Avenue onto 11th Avenue North, you go quickly from what is a bustling city street to a small, almost desolate looking warehouse area. Then 11th Avenue passes Jo Johnson Boulevard, and you veer to the left onto Clinton Street. Suddenly, you are transported back in time. The Marathon Motorworks building took up two city blocks when it was built in 1914. The company’s original name and logo are still painted on the brick facade. You can park either on the street, or on the free lot across the street. Automotive traffic is minimal, although you may encounter some students from Fisk wandering about during a break. The nondescript glass door with the muted cockerel logo takes the visitor on a trip that is not to be forgotten
The first thing you see from the street, aside from the classic Schwinn bike that parked on the sidewalk, is the mint green Vespa in the window. Inside, there are several other bikes, from a 1940 Indian that looks ready to cruise down the highway, to a custom built dual engine BSA that pulled 177 miles per hour and set a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats. It is easy to see that Mr. Wolfe has a passion for all forms of transportation. There is even a Velocipede, which the store’s owner has ridden
The store is illuminated with Edison light bulbs, most in custom made fixtures. Funnels have been re-purposed into hanging lamps. Rebar has been welded into a huge cruciform chandelier, or as Mike Wolfe calls it, a ‘Mandelier’. On the black enameled Rebar a local artisan has welded wrenches, screwdrivers and other ‘guy things’.
The stock is as varied as it is interesting. There are odds and ends, bits and pieces, from all over the country. A large silver hubcap with an Art Deco figure hangs on the wall, and below it is the grill panel from a Model T Ford. One wall is covered with the original exterior wall from Mickey Gilley’s in Texas that burned several years ago. The corrugated steel wall, and a sign, are all that remain, and they reside in places of honor in downtown Nashville.
Mike Wolfe himself is the sole buyer for both the Iowa and Nashville stores. On Monday after Saturday’s grand opening he was still in town, and close to noon pulled up in front of the shop and began unloaded a cache of 1950s lamps and bric-a-brac. He happily greeted the customers, posed for photographs and was more than willing to discuss some of the various bits and pieces in the store.
The staff is equally as helpful. Lauren Wray Grisham is a wealth of information. As the assistant manager, if she is unsure of an items provenance, she has the courage to say she doesn’t know, but she knows where to find out. And she does.
Anyone who is familiar with American Pickers understands the premise: Mike Wolfe and his ‘picking partner’ Frank Fritz (owner of Franks Finds) drive through the rural US, buying everything from old printing press letters and naughty photos of Flora Dora girls (signed to a faithful fan of course) to a ‘jet plane’ from an old carnival ride and a neon sign from the Shriners.
Yes, there is a certain amount of excitement at the thought of perhaps meeting a television personality. Then again, this is Nashville, where you might find yourself standing in line at Walmart next to Carrie Underwood, or buying a box of nails while George Strait checks the price for horse feed. Celebrities are the norm here. Antique Archaeology is anything but.