Old oil cans, shelves loaded with all kinds of gauges, bins filled with rusty railroad spikes and other Machine Age ephemera — and a friendly tail wagging dog named Buddy to greet customers.
What Christy Baxter calls “rusty gold” is exactly what Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are looking for on History Channel’s “American Pickers” — and Imperial Auto and Collectibles, at King Road and Meisner in China Township, is stuffed to the rafters with it.
“It’s a picker place,” Baxter said. “We call it a Pinterest superstore or a picker place.
“We have everything.”
The “American Pickers” production team recently put out a notice to chambers of commerce and other groups in the state that Wolfe and Fritz will be making a Michigan swing in August and are looking for leads.
That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be coming to the Blue Water Area. Alina Hernandez, a casting associate for the show, said they’ll go to the best pickings.
“We’re looking to hear interesting stories,” she said. “We might take a look at it and consider it.”
Baxter works with Robert Ring, who owns Imperial Auto and Collectibles. She said many of the items, ranging from old Bozo the Clown toys to a chest of drawers from a former pharmacy, come from estate closeouts or farm auctions.
“We have it all — gas cans, oil cans — they like lots of that stuff,” she said.
She and Ring are fans of shows that focus on collectibles and found treasures.
“These programs have made these types of places popular,” Baxter said.
She made it clear Imperial is not an antiques store.
“We have some antiques, but we are not an antiques store,” she said. “This a picker place, open to the public.
“It’s a picker place. That’s what describes it.”
Erika DeLange, executive director of the Marine City Area Chamber of Commerce, said communities in the Blue Water Area are in competition with communities throughout Michigan to catch American Pickers' eye.
"Given the number of antiques stores we have in Marine City, we have 10 .... I believe it would be fabulous exposure for Marine City," she said.
She noted that the M-29 to M-25 Yard Sale Trail also is in August — Aug. 11-13.
"I gave them the website and let them know the dates," DeLange said. "If they coordinated with that, it would be amazing.
"I was letting people know if they had things to see, to contact them," she said. "The more people we get to contact them, the more likely they are to come here."
Demra Collingwood, at The Nook and Cranny in Port Huron, said she's a fan of the show and would like to see Wolfe and Fritz visit.
"I watch them almost every day," she said. "Frank and Mike — it's almost like I know them.
"... It would be great if they came to the area."
John Grzyb doesn't have anything to sell, but the mayor of Capac would like to show off the village's historical museum inside a former Grand Trunk Railway depot and the Model City housed there.
There is not another one like it," he said.
The Model City, which was built by the Kempf brothers more than 100 years ago, features cars and trains running on a unique system of belts and pulleys.
"The Model City is the big one," Grzyb said. "It’s one of a kind and we’ll probably see never one again
"And we probably have the biggest milk bottle collection around."
Contact Bob Gross at (810) 989-6263 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RobertGross477.
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