Bob Sholly, owner of Good Old Boy Country Auctions in Manchester Township, talks about his time on "American Pickers."
Fifteen years ago, when Bob Sholly purchased Locust Lane Mill in Manchester Township, the four-story building was completely empty.
But by the time Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz from the History Channel show “American Pickers” showed up in August, the place was so jam-packed of antiques that they could barely walk through it.
Sholly, 73, of Lewisberry, said it took him about 25 years to fill the mill.
His collection started with an antique clock his grandmother gave him when he was 10 or 12 years old. At the time, he didn’t have the money to start a collection of his own. So, he spent years saving up while working as a carpenter, national motorcycle racer and now owner of Good Old Boy Country Auctions.
When he could afford it, Sholly started picking through yard sales, flea markets and even other people’s trash.
“I’m as good a picker as them guys are,” Sholly said about Wolfe and Fritz. “Anything that looked neat, I bought.”
About five months ago, his collection caught the eye of the “Pickers.”
Since 2010, Wolfe and Fritz have been traveling around the country picking antiques for resale or for their personal collections and airing their findings on “American Pickers.”
Following a recommendation from the Hershey Museum, they sent scouts to check out the mill, and within a few weeks, Wolfe, Fritz and their camera crew were pulling in the driveway.
At first, Sholly said he turned down the opportunity, but he quickly reconsidered because he didn’t want to let the Hershey Museum down.
“You get a new experience in life, you take advantage of it,” he said.
Before Wolfe and Fritz even walked through the front door, they had picked out about 10 signs they wanted, Sholly said.
“That was just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “Then, they started going through everything.”
The “Pickers” spent about 12 hours at the mill, looking through Sholly’s items.
They picked a menu chalkboard, table, ornamental cast iron, drill press and lots of feed signs from Fritz’s home state of Iowa. They also bought a few central Pennsylvania items, including an old trunk from Hershey’s Baking Co. and a keystone-shaped inspection sign.
By the time they were finished, they had purchased about 55 items at prices varying from about $10 to $1,000.
“Ninety-five percent of the stuff they touched, I sold them,” Sholly said.
The only things he wouldn’t sell were a clock with his girlfriend’s name on it and his motorcycle items.
The half-hour segment of the show, which aired Dec. 16, didn’t have time to show everything Wolfe and Fritz bought.
One of the most interesting items was not shown on TV, he said. It was a one-of-a-kind wheelchair from the Civil War that Sholly bought at a motorcycle show years ago. Injured soldiers used to sit in the chair and use a hand-crank to make it go, he said.
Another was an approximately 6-by-3 foot, two-sided RCA sign, which Sholly sold to Wolfe for $1,000.
Since the episode aired, Sholly said his phone has been ringing off the hook with friends calling about the episode.
“All day long we got phone calls from all over the U.S.,” he said.
But he didn’t do the show to get recognition.
“It was just a fun thing for me,” he said. “It’s kind of neat to be my age and to get a new opportunity in life … It was a good opportunity to get rid of the stuff, and I didn’t have to work hard to do it. They fattened up my pocket book and were on their way.”
The episode titled “Have Yourself a Merry Pickers Christmas” can be found online at www.history.com/shows/american-pickers.