On Friday afternoon, Paul Nerren’s Junk Barn received a pair of well-known visitors.
Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, better known as the stars of the History Channel’s hit show “American Pickers,” travel the country, looking for unique and castoff items to restore to their former glory. On Friday, they paid Nerren’s Junk Barn a visit, complete with a camera crew and hours to spend sorting through the thousands of items in the barn.
“They got here about 2:30, and they were here until dark,” Nerren said. “I think they liked it.”
If the souvenir Nerren got from them was any indication of how they felt about the Junk Barn, he was right — Mike Wolfe, in his autograph, added “Paul’s Junk Barn rocked my world.”
Nerren’s daughter, Phleshia, said they were contacted in February, after a Lufkin couple got in touch with the Pickers and pointed them toward the Junk Barn just north of Lufkin on U.S. Highway 59 north. When they showed up on Friday, they had plenty to pick through; Nerren has spent the last 25 years adding to his collection of vintage farm equipment, fixtures, tools and just about anything else. The Pickers told Nerren they were primarily looking for military-related items and coin-operated machines. They were especially interested in Nerren’s collection of hats and caps, though, and their purchases included a top hat, a quartermaster’s cap and a large ammonia gauge. In all, they spent about $200, and shot footage for an episode that will be broadcast in October.
During their hours-long excursion, Nerren shut down the barn, though that didn’t stop the flow of curious onlookers, drawn in by the Pickers’ trademark white van with its “Antique Archaeology” logo. A crowd of about 200 people were waiting outside the gates when the Pickers left, hoping to get pictures and autographs, Nerren said.
Though Nerren said he wasn’t quite sure who had called and suggested they visit his barn, he said he’s been told several times that the Pickers needed to come visit.
“Everyone’s said ‘You need to get the Pickers to come out here,’” Nerren said. “We’ve probably heard that a hundred times.”
Most of Nerren’s junk comes from an enormous flea market in Canton, which he visits once a month. Recently, he said, plow points and chicken nests have been hot items. Women have been big buyers lately, he said, buying chicken nests to use as towel holders or a place to store shoes.
“I never thought I’d live long enough to see women like rust,” Nerren said, chuckling.
Larissa Graham’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.