American Pickers Filming At Local Antiques Restoration Shop
Barnegat shop owner and Pickers host collaborating on a project; episode to air in a few months, possibly later in the year.
American Pickers, a popular antique-scavenging TV show visited Barnegat yesterday, causing excitement by the Bay Avenue antiques restoration business, where people dropped in to peek at the host Mike Wolfe. The lucky ones got to speak with him and pose for pictures.
Mike Wolfe wasn't "picking" during this visit, the way he does when he makes his stops at people's residencies all across America, where he looks for vintage items of all kinds and bargains with the owners for TV watchers' viewing pleasure. This taped visit was a part of a different sort of project.
"He’s got a story line they’re working on involving me, where I am helping him with a project," said Jon Szalay, 49, who owns First National Antique Restoration on 708 West Bay Avenue, an antiques restoration business.
Szalay, whose residence is in the same building, and whose shop is not open to visitors and is "by appointment only," has known Wolfe for 15 years now, he said.
"Mike used to sleep on my couch right in this building," Szalay said.
Szalay started off as a picker, just like Wolfe, an occupation Szalay continues to indulge now, traveling across country in search of vintage treasures -- especially bicycle and motorcycle-related antiques. What he finds he usually sells at shows, Szalay said. But his most important work involves restoration.
"My primary purpose in life is to restore antiques, especially furniture; I do really fine, quality restoration," Szalay said.
Szalay has been consulting for American Pickers for many years now, he said, but this was the first time the show was filmed at his property.
"He's incorporating me into the story line, finally," Szalay said. "It’s been a long time coming."
Szalay is keeping the other details about yesterday's filming a secret -- something local and national viewers will have to find out for themselves a few months from now.
"Production time is usually three to four months, I would look for it around the summertime," Szalay said, adding that the material filmed at his shop will be a part of Season 4 of the show.
"We will not be airing the episode for a few months, if not later this year," said Heather DiRubba, spokeswoman for the History Channel.
According to Wolfe's official bio, "a lifelong 'picker,' he has been combing through junk since the age of four." Wolfe's co-star in the show is his childhood friend and fellow collector and "junk" aficionado Frank Fritz.
Szalay also started collecting at a very young age, moving on to woodwork and restoration work by high school.
"Through high school I was busy with custom cabinet work and restoring furniture; I had a lot of commercial jobs," Szalay said.
By age 17, this work allowed him to gather enough money to purchase the Bay Avenue building, into which he moved from Forked River.
"It was only $34,000," Szalay said. "It was cheap."