Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Antiquing In LeCLAIRE, Iowa

Hi Folks!
     We decided to take a trip to LeClaire, Iowa recently to do a little sightseeing and antiquing. Some of you may be familiar with the AMERICAN PICKERS TV show on the History Channel. The show follows two guys (Mike and Frank) from Iowa who "travel the back roads of America looking for rusty junk".  Well, the home base and shop of the American Pickers TV show is in LeClaire, Iowa. My wife Char and I decided this might be an interesting overnight trip.
     We traveled the 165 miles from our home base in Kankakee County, Illinois to LeClaire, Iowa in our vintage Corvette with top down.  LeClaire is situated off of I-80, on the eastern edge of Iowa, right on the Mississippi river.  The town is relatively small, but scenic and loaded with charm.
 What I experienced:
      After we parked the Vette in the huge free public parking lot located on the riverfront, we decided to get some lunch. As we walked up to the closest restaurant (The Blue Iguana), I spotted Mike Wolfe (one of the stars of American Pickers) dining on the balcony!  Well, luck was with us......they seated us at the table right next to Mike!  After I saw that Mike was finished with his lunch, I was able to talk with him awhile and his girlfriend, Jody took a pic of Mike and I together.   Mike Wolfe, I found out, lives right in LeClaire and is very passionate about his small town and it's future.  The popular TV show has put LeClaire on the map.
What you'll find:    
     After lunch, Char and I checked out the American Pickers shop, Antique Archiology.  The place was a little hard to find....It's located in the alley, behind a BP Gas Station.  Mike has a lot of antique automobile and motorcycle stuff in his shop.......most of it is for sale. (Guys will love this shop!)  Also on display, you will find many items that were featured in the TV show, such as the leather jacket worn by Mike and the huge Laurel & Hardy Mike and the big Laurel & Hardy heads they bought on one of their picks.  Prices are a little high, but he has nice items that are in great condition.  I bought a small glass AMOCO sign for $40.....hardly a bargain, but a treasure nonetheless, because I am a huge fan of the TV show, American Pickers.  
     There were several other antique shops in LeClaire. My favorite was The Big River Antique Mall (423 N. Cody Road).  I spent more than an hour looking around this interesting shop. Prices are moderate. I purchased an ad for Veedol Motor Oil from the 1930s for $2.50...........I have an antique metal sign with the same oil name at home.
     Later we took a stroll along the river bank. By the way, they have a genuine paddle wheeler river boat that runs during summer months.  A good place for dinner is Sneaky Petes Bar & Grill.  You can get an inexpensive meal here and dine in a rustic, cowboy-themed atmosphere.  Careful though, the waitresses pack six shooters (cap guns).  Fun for the kids and the burgers are great! 
President Obama's Tour Bus
     We booked a room at the local B&B..........there are also a couple of chain motels nearby.  The room was clean, with a shared bathroom down the hall.  Worth it for under $60.  After we settled in, we walked outside to take a walk thru town and saw people milling around outside and several squad cars blocking the road along our B&B.  I asked the nearby police chief what was going on and he said that the President (Obama) was coming to town!  15 minutes later the crowd grew quite large (for a town this size) and two HUGE black tour buses pulled up in the center of town, just a block from our B&B.  Out steps Obama and his entourage.  He walked up to the corner antique and gift shop, bought a t-shirt and shook hands with some of the pre-screened town people (under the watchful eye of the secret service).   I'm telling you.....this turned out to be quite a memorable trip!! 
     I enthusiastically recommend LeClaire Iowa as a travel destination for your next antiquing road trip!
[See ANTIQUES for sale by the Antiquing Traveler on eBay.....Go to google, type "mrdon1956", then press enter to get my eBay seller profile. Access great antiques for sale from my profile.]
President Obama shaking hands in LeClaire, IA


  1. LeClaire sounds like a pretty cool little town. Too bad it's not a more southern state because I can't tolerate temperatures below 80 degrees. I'm surprised that Mike lives in town. I've watched the Pickers show a few times, and he seems like a cool guy (although he always seems to overpay!)

    So, could you pretty much walk to everything once you parked?

    And who would have guessed that Obama likes antiques? Did you get to see the t-shirt he bought?

  2. Enjoyed reading your blog Don, I remember you. Look forward to reading more.

  3. Awesome, Mike Wolff actually took time out from his Thanskgiving Dinner to post on this Blog...can we say gooble, gooble??????????????

  4. Mike Wolfe is really a great guy. He's very down-to-earth, friendly and just as personable and nice a guy as he seems to be on the American Pickers TV show. Yes Vicki, you can walk to all of the places featured on my blog once you have parked. It's really a great little town.

  5. Don,
    Did you know Mike Wolfe grew up in Joliet Il, Small world he went to school with one of your wife's Brothers. Lincoln way. Do the math picker still today.

  6. Use to love this show , even though they do seem to brag how they rip people off. I will tell first hand how this goes down.
    The producer of this show calls the chamber of commerce wanting to know who in that city has a collection of antiques. Then they contact us the people, they want endless pictures of all of our stuff, biography's, pictures of us, and want to pre negotiate prices. After Spending 12 or more hours supplying them with your information, they call you and want more and more information on you. Jeff Eggleston their producer wants rock bottom prices on your stuff and more pictures and exact locations in the building where it is located, the cute girl on the show never once called and when we didn't give him prices on the items, we told him we would negotiate like they do on the show, they were obviously no longer interested because the endless emails and phone calls stopped coming in. They told us when they would be there, they did come to our town here in Arizona, but did not contact us because we were not going to give away our belongings just to be on their show. Also they wanted us to find them convertables from the 30's 40's and 50's, I don't know where they come from but out here you get finders fees for these treasures as everyone wants them, this thing has left a sour taste in my mouth and I will not watch this show again, as this is all A STAGED PRODUCTION

  7. Thanks for the comments, "Anonymous". I thought your sharing of just how the whole production plays out for the people who sell to the American Pickers was very interesting and enlightening. I certainly can understand why you were upset with the whole process of multiple phone calls from the producer, but I think that their attempt to get "rock bottom" prices for the stuff they purchase is a necessary evil if they are to stay in business. Imagine travelling from Iowa to Arizona and back, with no guarantee that you would find enough good deals to pay for the gas, time, food, lodgings, and show a bit of a profit as well! I think these guys are amazing and try to find sellers who actually want to part with their stuff......they know that collectors value their treasures too much and a good enough deal for them to turn a profit is unlikely. I still like the "American Pickers" and will continue to watch.

  8. Husband and I are traveling to see Mike and Frank and of course Danelle about the 25th of May. These guys are so funny and we love their show.