Pickers 2

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (11/9/18) — American Pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz stopped in Madisonville Thursday to visit a local property developer and collector of historical artifacts.

Joe Thomas, 76, said he ended up selling a couple of items to the world-known antique collectors, and was satisfied with the trade.

The storytellers, whose popular TV series airs on The History Channel, brought along their film crew to capture the story, which is expected to air sometime in the spring.

The Pickers were also impressed with the Historic Downtown Madisonville District, said Thomas’s daughter, Jenny Gibson, who operates Big City Market off Sugg Street. Mike and Frank stopped in Big City first, where the filming for the show began.

She thought they were just going to stop at her dad’s buildings to pick out some items.

Jenny said someone had called the producer and told them about her father, and then set up a meeting a couple of weeks ago. She doesn’t know who called the Pickers, but if she finds out, she would like to thank them for the wonderful experience, especially for her dad.

“I think it will depict Madisonville very well to a worldwide audience,” she said. “It was a great opportunity for us. We had to keep it quiet. They were going to be staying here in Madisonville, and someone leaked that, so they ended up staying in Evansville.”

Once fans spotted the Pickers van, they began congregating downtown, Gibson said, but Mike and Frank gladly paused to greet the people and pose for photos, although they had work to accomplish.

Jenny said she and her mother, Shirley, were surprised Joe was willing to part with a few things.

“He sold a neat jacket from WW II — a Navy flight jacket — and cool pieces of history that people find of interest,” Jenny said, adding the Pickers are not so much about buying stuff, but are big on stories behind collectors and pieces of history stored away for safe keeping.

Jenny explained that her father has coal mine artifacts dating back to the day that canaries were used to detect carbon monoxide levels in mine shafts.

Pickers 1

Joe said Mike lives in Tennessee and is delving into restoring commercial and residential historical buildings in Nashville, similar to the work he has done with several structures in the downtown Madisonville area.

“Collectively, our family, with others, have been able to fix the buildings up and get interesting tenants, and they were really intrigued by that,” Jenny said. “They visit many small towns, saying the vast majority of downtown areas are dead. They were impressed.”

Joe said he was ready for the American Pickers to visit again.

“We had a lot of townspeople stop after the word got out, and they didn’t turn anyone away,” he said. “They held the kids and it was a good thing for Madisonville … the public loves them.”

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