BULLHEAD CITY — In October of 2019, Gretchen Lyons lost her father, Norman Berge. It was obviously an emotional time for her, but two months later a post on her Facebook page offered her a chance to start the healing.
“In December, somebody tagged me on Facebook to tell me ‘American Pickers’ was coming to Arizona,” said Lyons. “I decided to take a chance and call them.”
Lyons had inherited two storage facilities and a home loaded with her father’s valuable collection and was busy organizing it and trying to figure out what to do with it. With a large collection of everything from early radios to microphones, music (more than 5,000 albums and 2,500 78s), posters, trinkets and advertising, she figured this was a perfect fit.
So she contacted “American Pickers,” left a message and received a call back in early January.
“They said they were really interested in his collection,” said Lyons. “I talked to them a little bit and they asked me to email them some pictures.”
Lyons ended up sending more than 100 pictures. A month later, Mike Wolfe and his brother, Robbie, came to town.
“Normally Mike likes to send a scout to take a look at the potential pick,” said Lyons. “In our case, with all the pictures, Mike said to not even bother sending the scout, ‘We’re going.’ ”
Well, it wasn’t just Mike and Robbie, there was a posse of 11 including camera operators, a sound person and two guys with laptops strapped around their necks to quickly investigate the value of some of the objects.
“We had to do a lot of research,” said Lyons. “That’s been the most time-consuming was figuring out the values of some of the things.”
The shoot took 101/2 hours for a 22-minute segment. Additionally, Lyons had to sit down 1-on-1 with the producer for over an hour after Mike and Robbie left.
“What an experience,” said Lyons. “It was incredible. They were fun and very fair. Even when they spoke with their experts on the phone, they put it on speakerphone so we could hear. It was very transparent.”
Lyons can’t really speak about too much of the purchases that the “Pickers” made, but she did talk about the first pick by Robbie. It was a metal sign with printing on both sides. Lyons knew it was valuable, but not sure how valuable.
“I was going back and forth with Robbie,” said Lyons. “He was telling me the significance of all these little things. He asked what I wanted for it. I said, “I don’t know, give me $75.’ He said ‘Nah, I’ll give you $325.’ He said retail on it was probably well over $600.”
Lyons did say that they had been able to get rid of a lot of stuff, but that the “Pickers” hardly made a dent in what they have. They had picked the home here in Bullhead City, but with two storage facilities in Kingman still full, she is hoping she may get a return visit from the stars of the History Channel show.
“Once we get my pop’s storage units cleaned up,” said Lyons, “I’m thinking about getting back in touch with them to see if they want to do another pick.”
When they arrived, Lyons and her husband, Hal, went out to welcome the crew, but soon found out it wasn’t their first time in Bullhead City.
“When they got there in the morning, I said ‘Welcome to Bullhead City,’ ” said Gretchen. “Mike said, ‘Our grandmother lived on Swan (Drive in Bullhead City). We used to come out here in the ’70s.’ ”
Gretchen and Hal were both quick to point out that the only scripted or staged part of the whole show was their first meeting and that was simply to make sure that they didn’t block neighbors or cause a problem in the neighborhood.
“The minute they walk in the door, the rest is what it is,” said Gretchen.
“They brought two jeeps, two vans, two motorhomes and a 30-foot Penske truck,” added Hal. “So they wanted to make sure they didn’t cause any problems. Great guys.”
With the visit just four months after losing her father, it was an emotional time for the Lyons’, but in the end, Gretchen thinks her father would’ve been proud.
“My pop would’ve just been elated that they thought enough of his collection to pick it,” said Gretchen. “That’s how I learned about ‘American Pickers’ was from my pop.”
Fighting back tears, Gretchen added “I think it probably helped me because my dad loved collecting, appreciated the history of these items and I hope that he would’ve been proud of me for making sure that his things went to somebody who could appreciate them.”
“In the interview with the producer, she asked ‘If your dad had been here, what would’ve been different about this pick?’ ” Hal said. “Gretchen said, ‘You would’ve learned a lot more about the item and its history, but you wouldn’t have bought anything.’ He didn’t sell anything.”
The episode will air Monday at 6 p.m. on the History Channel.