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Posted on Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 1:55 p.m.

'American Pickers' looking to finalize itinerary for Michigan visit as Ypsi-Arbor Bowl sign goes up for auction

By Angela Smith

Got any spare motorcycles?

Maybe a collection of unique University of Michigan football memorabilia?

How about some gangster-related keepsakes from the Prohibition era?

These are some of the top items that the "American Pickers" hope to snag on their upcoming trip to Michigan.

"American Pickers," a popular History Channel antique show in its third season, follows Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, as they scour the country for items that can be restored, recycled, or resold.

ypsiarborbowl.jpg files

One man’s trash (or is it stash?) is another man’s treasure, so goes the saying and the philosophy behind the popular program. The hosts stop at nothing to uncover and restore memorabilia and collectibles — even if it means diving into piles of junk or getting chased by a gun-wielding homeowner.

Show producer Jeff Eggleston confirmed on Tuesday that the show will be coming to Michigan, but said the itinerary is not set. The show plans to shoot in the area sometime between April 12 and April 24, he said. reported on March 17 that the show had shown interest in the neon sign owned by Ypsi Arbor Bowl, which plans to close on May 1.

“We are still looking for eight to ten of the 'best picks' — the best Michigan has to offer,” Eggleston said.

What makes a great pick? The best characters with the largest and most unique collections.

Here’s producer Eggleston’s wish list:

  • Prohibition/gangster stuff: In reading up on Michigan history, he has found a deep Michigan connection to Prohibition. Eggleston hopes to find a landmine or “maybe an old car with a rum-runner compartment.”
  • Detroit auto industry items: Cars, collections, keepsakes, anything related to our local auto companies.
  • Michigan sports memorabilia: Unique pieces related to any of Michigan’s college or professional sports teams.
  • Motorcycles! The show's team would love to find someone near the Motor City with a large collection to pick through.


Motorcycles are a hot find for "American Pickers" hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz.

Courtesy of "American Pickers"

Eggleston didn't mention the iconic Ypsi/Arbor Bowl sign. But that doesn't mean the show isn't still interested. The sign and many other bowling alley fixtures have gone to an online auction that began today. Bidders can choose among pinsetter parts, pool tables, bar mirrors and 1,200 other items.

By this afternoon, the sign had no recorded bids, but New Center Consulting, which is running the auction, reports that "American Pickers" offered $3,000 for the sign before the auction began. The firm also said a national sign museum had offered $3,500 for the sign.

The online auction is scheduled to remain open until the end of April, past the time frame for "American Pickers." Once the auction closes, the firm plans to offer a garage sale-style benefit party where people will have one last chance to take home a piece of Ypsi/Arbor Bowl’s history.

  • If you know anyone who may have items to pick, you can contact the show’s researcher, Jack, at 646-873-6257 or email

Angie Smith is a freelance reporter for You can reach her at



Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 5:37 a.m.

I used to love this show, wouldn't miss it, but after watching for a while, I just couldn't take anymore of Mike's "I'm jacked" and how everything he sees is "cool." If he would stop with the slang, I might watch the show some more, but everytime I hear "I'm jacked," or "cool" I just cringe. I also agree with another comment about how some of the pieces they spend so much time on are silly, or trivial pieces! I mean, a whole show, and all day in a van on the road for a $50 profit? I do better than that in an hour at the yard sell down the road!

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Apr 1, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

Maybe American Pickers can just take the Thompson Block off our hands? You know, brick by burnt brick?

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Apr 1, 2011 : 12:08 p.m.

Just be glad it won't be chewed up and recycled. It will live on... somewhere else!


Fri, Apr 1, 2011 : 3:18 a.m.

It's a shame that we may lose one of our most beautiful and beloved pieces of local Americana. If the sign cannot remain where it is, it is at least deserving of a home in the Henry Ford Museum. Keep it out of the hands of bottom feeders like the clowns from American Pickers and keep the sign in MI, preferably where it stands.

Moscow On The Huron

Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 7:03 p.m.

Eye, what exactly does one have to do to not be a "bottom feeder" in your mind. If they stood there near the sign until five seconds before it's torn down and then bought it, would that be satisfactory to you? or do we have to let it be bulldozed and then grab it? Also in the previous posting on this, the owner of the bowling alley said he was told their intent was to get it into a museum.

Moscow On The Huron

Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 6:58 p.m.

Actually, THF had to get the Rosa Parks bus off eBay, and they paid dearly for it. There was a lot of competition for it.


Fri, Apr 1, 2011 : 2:18 p.m.

jcj? I agree. This is how they found the Rosa Parks bus. It was in someones backyard just sitting there rusting away until the Henry Ford scooped it up. Maybe Greenfield might scoop this one up as well. But yes, Americana? Let it live with someone else, not in someones landfill.


Fri, Apr 1, 2011 : 11:12 a.m.

"bottom feeders" ? At least they pay for what they get! You want someone else to pay to save your "beloved pieces of local Americana" If they did not savage these pieces of Americana they would end up in a land fill or rot away to nothing. Everything can't end up in a museum.Do you have the same feelings for antique stores? They do the same thing. Buy antiques as cheap as they can and sell them for as much as they can!


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 11:14 p.m.

This show like storage wars, pawn stars, antique road show is ok entertainment. But if anyone thinks they really sell this stuff for anywhere near what they say its worth then come on over I have got a garage load of "treasures" for you!


Fri, Apr 1, 2011 : 1:13 a.m.

I guess I am referring mostly to storage wars and antique road show. On storage wars They always show what they paid and then what the stuff is worth and there is no way most of that stuff is worth what they say. And on antique road show they are always saying something is worth so much. BUT you would never find one of the appraisers making an offer. And even on pawn stars there is no telling how long some of that stuff will sit in there and then they will lower the price. Actually American Pickers is my favorite. I do find it interesting what they find.

John B.

Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

So you're saying they are lying about the selling prices of the goods that show as 'sold for xxx' at the end of each pick? I highly doubt that, as the 'sold' prices aren't that high. What I think is that the stuff that sells for 10x the purchase prices doesn't get shown on the show, for fear of angering the sellers.


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 10:22 p.m.

The show would be more appealing if they made more than $75- $200 on alot of their picks....seems like a lot of fuss for nothing....they only make any serious money on the TV show, probably! Pretty corny show, I think. I like the show where they fully restore old things people bring in....that's cool!

John B.

Fri, Apr 1, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

If you've ever been involved with collectibles, it's actually a very realistic representation of what goes on in that 'business/hobby.' Almost no one is making any real profit. Even the Storage Wars stuff is a small sample of their buys, edited/chosen to show mainly their big 'scores.' They state that upfront, at the beginning of each episode.

Atticus F.

Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 9:06 p.m.

They're gonna walk off with a rare piece of history for a song.