From the Archives: American Pickers slated to visit Boulevard salvage yard

Published Feb. 6, 2013 in the Maumelle Monitor

By Bill Lawson

A scheduled visit to central Arkansas within the next few days might bring the stars of American Pickers to a site along Maumelle Boulevard.

Many Maumelle residents have suggested to Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, stars of the History Channel documentary that they include a stop at the automobile salvage yard across Maumelle Boulevard from Maumelle Wine and Spirits in their show.

Sonny Gubanski, 80, has operated the active salvage yard business for at least 60 years, he said Monday night.

And yes he said he'd heard rumors that the TV show might come to visit him but he didn't get excited and said he'd never watched the show which with an average 4 million viewers is one of the Discovery Channel's most popular shows. He said he'd never seen the TV show.

The wooded lot adjacent to Crystal Hill Road is covered with hundreds of old classic cars, many from the 1950s, 1940s and even 1930 vintage cars.

Sonny said he's too busy working to worry about who is stopping by. He said tourists and antique collectors often stop and poke around his antiques.

Every car has a story he said but the 1948 Chevrolet wrecker is his favorite. He said he found it in Sweet Home and uses it every day to move cars around and said he'd be lost without it.

Sonny and his brothers acquired the land from their father who was one of the first settlers of the area.

"We were here long before Maumelle," he said.

He said people speeding by like they drive on Maumelle Boulevard see the old cars and think it's a junk yard but it's an active salvage facility loaded with priceless antiques.

Although he's 80, Sonny said folks often confuse him for one of his younger brothers since he looks about 50 but he said that's due to hard work.

Whether the pickers come or not, Sonny said he doesn't care. He said he had several cars they'd probably be interested in but that he has several more scattered around the country he can replace them with.

Arkansas Parks and Tourism's Website first alerted Arkansans that the famous duo was headed here with just a simple post on their Website soliciting suggestions where they might stop.

Gail Kirkeby wrote on their Website on Jan. 9, "To the American Pickers. There is a great junk yard on Maumelle Boulevard in Maumelle, Arkansas that has lots of old maybe 40 cars that may have some great junk for you all to check out."

Kim Williams, a writer on the site, asked for suggestions and said, "American Pickers" is one of The History Channel's most-watched shows.

"Now Mike and Frank will be traveling our great state, in search of ‘hidden gems in junkyards, basements, garages and barns.' These guys are looking for folks who've collected for years and years…they don't visit retail shops or flea markets. And they look for virtually everything…from antique motorcycles and bicycles to metal toys.

This is how you can help make their trip to The Natural State a success! If you, or someone you know, have piles ‘of rusty gold' you've collected over the years, tell Mike and Frank! To make suggestions, email americanpickers@cineflix.com or call 646-493-2184. Let's all make their trip to Arkansas outstanding!"

Producers of the show say they have been inundated with suggestions and could stop in Vilonia, Gravel Ridge and Maumelle.