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Merchandising Pickers


By: Ali Levy
April 5, 2013

Ali LevyTips from merchandising guru, Ali Levy,

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, I thought I’d reach for inspiration from one of my favorite television shows, American Pickers, on the History Channel. The premise of the series is focused on childhood friends Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz who hail from Iowa and created a career out of travelling the country looking for “rusty gold.” They get leads from their trusty office manager, Danielle, for major collectors looking to lighten their loads. Mike and Frank spend countless hours sifting through old barns and sheds, climbing and crawling through piles of rubble in search of hidden gems, which they later sell at one of their two brick-and-mortar outposts, Antique Archaeology. I am drawn in by their ability to spot some rusted artifact in the corner of a broken down barn and see its potential. Their knowledge for all things vintage is truly remarkable and its fun to see what they will uncover each week.

Pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz

“Where is the Earth Day hook” you ask? It’s certain that Mike and Frank do their fair share of burning fossil fuel through continuous travel on the road digging for treasure, months on end. And although their carbon footprint is likely on the larger side, there is a lesson we can learn from them about utilizing unexpected treasures. What might be lurking in a shop’s backroom could be picked with little to no impact on our wallets and resources. I’m talking about the boxes of stuff (i.e. junk) that often times is found in an outdoor shop’s fixture and POP area. There are usually old fixtures, signs, heaps of catalogs yet-to-be recycled, banners, slatwall parts and pieces that are no longer needed, mismatched hangers and so on. There are everyday items that sit dormant until you need to use them, like rolling racks and maybe a stash of bubble wrap for shipping special orders. Who knows what some shops have hidden amongst the rows of back-stocked shoes and boxes of old paperwork. It’s time to think outside of the box, get creative and rummage through your old fixture bone yard to find items you don’t need to drive to get and that are free.

So, in no particular order, let’s sort through some of those boxes and see what we can transform from everyday objects into actionable ideas that are easy to implement.


Boxes: what can you do with them? Well if you have some lying around you can cut them into tree shapes and paint them. You could make big flowers out of them and hang them by fishing line from the ceiling or arrange them in a window display. The options are endless.

I like this idea of gluing pictures on boxes. You can grab photos from catalogs, dealer workbooks, maps or whatever you have lying around the recycling area. Stack and use them on shelves or in a front window like above.


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