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home : news : news April 28, 2016

7/1/2010 9:18:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 
CAMERAS ROLLED as Ted Thuli visited with “American Pickers” Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz during the production in downtown Darlington. They also visited Thuli’s shed of finds and his home on Spring Street before wrapping up the day.
AMERICAN PICKERS Mike Wolfe (l) and Frank Fritz (right) posed for a photo with their fans Jackson Hemming and Sam Cohen who spent a good portion of the day watching the production play out.
'Pickers' make a stop in Darlington

Hillary Dickerson

DARLINGTON - The white van with the simple "Antique Archaeology" logo on the back and the side rolled down Main Street late last Wednesday morning, June 23, and the "picking" began.

Stars of the hit History Channel show "American Pickers" Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, along with their production crew, made Darlington a destination for an upcoming show, stopping first at Ted Thuli's garage on Ann Street where a crowd of fans began to congregate to see what they could of the production process.

Fans of the show and its stars, known simply as Mike and Frank, watched from a point across the street by the hotel as Thuli, who's collected unique finds since childhood took the cast and crew of the show on a tour of the former Lafayette County Coop building Thuli now owns and in which he has stashed away some of his finds.

Thuli explained later it was about two weeks before the "American Pickers" crew arrived in Darlington that someone from the show contacted him after Jeff Boatman, a former Darlington resident who now lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, contacted the show with Thuli's name.

After talking to the production company representative located somewhere on the East Coast, Thuli, who was at work in California at the time, called back to Darlington Dairy Supply (DDS), the company he runs with his mother and brothers, and had John Barth, a DDS employee, take some pictures and email them his way. Thuli then forwarded the pictures to "American Pickers" and awaited word.

It didn't take long. The "Pickers" liked what they saw and wanted to visit Darlington to sift through Thuli's items he has collected in the Ann Street garage, at a shed on the DDS property and at his home on Spring Street.

Thuli flew back to Wisconsin from California on Monday and by 11 a.m. Wednesday morning, June 22, the "Pickers" van had made its way from Mineral Point to Darlington, filming scenery along the way.

Frank and Mike pulled the van into a parking spot on Main Street and emerged to a group of fans for whom they willingly signed autographs.

Then the van rolled out, circled the 300 block of Main Street several times and parked at the garage for filming to begin.

Thuli said he's watched "American Pickers" from time to time but really buckled down and studied past episodes after receiving the call they were headed his way.

"It's just a game," said Thuli of the concept behind "American Pickers." Thuli remembers adding to his collection as a youngster, going to auctions and shelling out a dime or quarter for his treasures.

Through the years that collection has grown and he now has stuff tucked into storage spots all over. "Been doing it forever," he noted. "Bad habit."

Overall, Thuli was impressed with the experience.

"They're pretty good guys," he said of Mike and Frank, who are based out of LeClaire, Iowa, just north of the Quad Cities, where Mike's store Antique Archaeology, is located.

It's expected to take about two-and-a-half-months before the episode will air, Thuli said, but they'll let him know beforehand and an announcement will be made with specifics.

After the show airs, Thuli will receive two copies - a long version and a short version - of the episode.

And everyone who watches will know exactly what was "picked" - from pinball machines to signs and smaller knick-knack items - and for how much.

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