The co-star and creator of "American Pickers," Mike Wolfe, said any confusion surrounding Frank Fritz's role on the show is unintentional.
"Basically, the show is a profile of my life — about me," Wolfe said Thursday. "What you have to understand is the show focuses on a company I started in 2000. People have the assumption Frank's a co-owner. It's always been my business. I'd been doing it (picking) for 25 years. I put a label on it in 2000."
Wolfe made several attempts at selling his show to cable TV channels before landing a deal with History nearly five years ago. Just a few months before "American Pickers" was picked up, Wolfe moved his resale operation into a former sandblasting company in LeClaire. He had known Fritz for many years (both graduated from Bettendorf High School in 1982), but the two never were business partners, he said.
"He should be proud of where he's from," Wolfe said. "Davenport's a cool town. Frank's talked a lot about Davenport on the show. You know, I've never been asked to do any promotion of the Quad-Cities, either."
He conceded the regular appearance of LeClaire on the show can give the wrong impression, but he said he also has indicated "in a number of interviews all over the place" that Fritz's home is Davenport.
As for Wolfe, he now makes his home near the store he opened nearly two years ago in Nashville.
"We are the go-to location — second only to the Grand Ole Opry," he said.
But he is not abandoning LeClaire. In fact, he is expanding there, too.
He recently bought and razed a neighboring home at Antique Archaeology to make room for a 1,500-square-foot expansion of the business. He said he hopes to begin construction in a few weeks.
The city of LeClaire added the property to a Tax Increment Financing District, or TIF, and is offering Wolfe up to $75,000 in TIF incentives for the expansion. The rebate is to be paid out over a maximum 10-year period.
He said he doesn't get to LeClaire very often, saying it is difficult to navigate the small town freely, estimating half of the visitors on any given day are there to see Antique Archaeology.
"We're all very proud of the show — me, Danielle and Frank," he said. "We're hot in many countries. We're the number one show in Asia. You never know what's going to burn when you throw it in the fire."
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