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Posted on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

'American Pickers' coming to Michigan to hunt for treasures - including Ypsi-Arbor Bowl sign

By Paula Gardner

"American Pickers" is bringing its treasure-hunt version of an antiques roadshow to Michigan in mid-April.

Part of the reason for the trip is a visit to Ypsi-Arbor Bowl, which will close May 1- leaving its iconic neon sign on Washtenaw Avenue in need of a new owner.

ypsiarborbowl.jpg files

"We love it," said Jeff Eggleston, producer for the series on The History Channel, about the sign.

But right now, Eggleston and the "American Pickers" team is scouting out other locations where the show's stars could "pick" more vintage items to buy, restore and sell in Michigan - and they'd need leads for more in Washtenaw County to keep the bowling alley in the plans.

The trip to Michigan is planned for April 10-25, Eggleston said, and he recently put out a notice on Facebook seeking suggestions of cities the show should visit.

"We're trying to get as many leads as possible," he said. "... No one has any idea where they're going to be just yet."

Rich Glomb, owner of Ypsi-Arbor Lanes, said he was in touch with the production staff last week after a customer suggested that the sign could be a good fit for the show, which details the hunt and eventual purchase of vintage items in varying ranges of condition.

Glomb has other items in the bowling alley that the show's stars Mike Wolfe and Frank Fitz want to see, but he's hoping more people in Washtenaw County offer suggestions so the bowling alley remains a stop on the show's Michigan itinerary.

"(The sign isn't) enough to schedule an entire TV show around," Glomb said. "... "The more things they have to look at in the 2-week period, the better."

So what items could get onto the "American Pickers" radar?

"Anything unique to the area," Eggleston said. "And large, eclectic collections."

Items that they suspect would be particular to the area include autos and auto-related items, rock and roll memorabilia and items identified with Detroit. (Think Sanders, Faygo and long-lost auto manufacturers like Hudson and Kaiser Fraser.)

They also could end up "picking" through area barns, in the hunt for cast-offs that could be valuable when refurbished.

Eggleston stressed that nothing about the visit except the timing is confirmed. And he's hoping that readers will email potential "pick" locations to them.

Eggleston also wouldn't say whether the purchase of the Ypsi-Arbor sign is a done deal.

Glomb said no purchase price has been discussed, since the offer is part of the on-camera dialogue.

"Their goal is to put it in a museum," Glomb said he's been told.

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by email. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.



Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

Can anyone tell the story of where the Arborland whale is now. I always had to get on that whale everytime Mommy went shopping, and that was ALOT. Arborland was awesome back in the 60's.

Matt Whale

Sat, Mar 19, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

There is a facebook page devoted to it called 'I played on the Arborland Mall whale statue in the 1970's'


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

@free form "KEEP all our cool retro signage in place please." And how much of the electric bill or property taxes did you pay towards these? Did you ever even patronize any of these places?

free form

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 4:58 p.m.

I would happily contribute to help a local museum/historical society purchase the Ypsi-Arbor sign if it must come down after the close of the bowling alley. And, yes. I do patronize these business. I often buy wine at Morgan & York, have bowled at Ypsi-Arbor on a number of occasions in the three years I've lived here and I frequent Arby's more often than I care to admit. I would appreciate you NOT patronizing me.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 11:16 p.m.

Send them far away. Obnoxious Bandits!

free form

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 11:14 p.m.

Why are you people suggesting they they come here and purchase our landmarks? If you like the nifty Arby's sign, the sweet "Packard Liquor" sign and the beautiful retro Ypsi-Arbor sign you should be fighting to keep them here. Instead some of you would sell them to the highest bidder for 15 minutes of fame on a reality show... WTH? KEEP all our cool retro signage in place please. I love it just where it is! If the Ypsi-Arbor sign ends up being sold I want to see it in a LOCAL museum like The Henry Ford.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

Everyone wants to "save" the artifacts"! But I have not seen anyone offer any money of their own! Lets just assume that the rightful owners of any of these items has the right to sell if they choose. I know that is a novel thought in this town. That the "chosen" don't have any say must really grind on some of you!


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

@Dave Paris "Let's not give these people any more reason to cannibalize our culture" How so? By paying for junk that otherwise either sits in a barn or rust away to nothing? They could by and move half of the student housing on campus to Iowa. Most of it is old and serves no useful purpose! "Let's hope that someone can buy the bowling alley, and keep it going, as such." Someone always has grand ideas for salvaging something that has outlived its usefulness.The difference is these guys put their money where their mouth is.While some offer suggestions as to what to do but never put their money where their mouth is!


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

The tall skinny guy on that show is really, really obnoxious. I'm surprised he hasn't been assaulted yet.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

I like those guys but the show seems to glorify ( on one channel) exactly what is pathologized as "hoarding" on another. They really do seem to be into major crap. Anyway, i'd welcome them to my garage.

David Paris

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 4:10 p.m.

How about NO! Go away, and leave our crap alone! Let's not give these people any more reason to cannibalize our culture. Let's hope that someone can buy the bowling alley, and keep it going, as such. Next thing you know, some idiot is going to suggest the block M imbedded in the Diag., or the scoreboard on the stadium. Come on, already! Here's something I'll agree to; the sign on the Wall-Mart, and Sam's Club. Oh, they're still open for business? That's even better!

Matt Whale

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 4:45 p.m.

Where are the letters that surrounded the Stadium for a year or two? Didn't they sell them?


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

How about another local landmark, the Ypsi water tower, that would be a fun one to move. There are many antique shops in Tecumseh, Blissfield, Allen, Plymouth, Brighton, Northville, Wayne, Ann Arbor, Williamson and Westland to visit for picking. Isn't the merchandice from Materials Limited also being sold by the owner as well? Seems to me there would be a treasure trove of hot spots to pick from here in lower Michigan. Lots of local signage as well, such as Clucks drive-in, the Chick-in, the Bomber Restaurant and even the Arborland big "A".


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

They buy junk, right? Why don't we sell them Stadium Bridge?


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

I wish that sign could stay! :( It won't be seen and enjoyed in a museum nearly as much...


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 3 p.m.

The Ypsi-Arbor sign is a local landmark. If it is moved, it will no longer be a local landmark.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

How about that wine place on Packard road by Brockman? I remember everyone fighting to keep that sign up. Glad it stayed. As for the Arbys sign? Yes, I love that place. Getting into it is a pain, but I still love driving by it every day.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

The Whale from Arborland. Someone has that up by Whitmore Lake, right?


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 3:31 p.m.

It's in the backyard of someone's home in Pinckney.

Matt Whale

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

I want to see the whale again! It had a whole though the middle of it so you could crawl though.

Chris 8 - YPSI PRIDE

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

The Arby's Sign just west of Huron Parkway on Washtenaw Avenue. I actually stopped to take pictures of it because it brings back my childhood in New York where Arby's has just about disappeared.

Blue Marker

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 2 p.m.

Great pick-up Chris 8, They haven't used the "Big Hat" sign for a long time. I guess that was their attempt to create their own Golden Arches.

Top Cat

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

Can I invite them down my basement some weekend when my wife if out of town ?


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 12:15 p.m.

Love the show but I don't love them taking our old classic landmark items. Send the pickets back home!!! Go to las vagas is they want sign. Come here to buy a car!


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

Why don't you buy the sign and put it on your property?


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 11:57 a.m.

The show can be interesting - sometimes. I always felt like the woman who works in the office/store is the real glue that holds that place together. Besides the sweetheart TV deal, that is.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 10:58 a.m.

Big Ten Party Store

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 10:45 a.m.

this isn't the picker's first trip to michigan. they went up the 'west coast' (last summer?)