Daily Archives: July 8, 2013

“American Pickers” attract attention in Wichita and Kiowa County

Mike Wolfe of “American Pickers” playing with Cash, left, and Charlie while visiting Jill Eller’s house in Greensburg.

UPDATED – There were some “American Pickers” sightings in Wichita over the Fourth of July weekend, but it looks like the cast and crew did more hanging out here than picking for their TV show.

“Well that really disappoints me,” said Grant Rine, a physician who owns Old Town Architectural Salvage where picker Frank Fritz stopped in.

“I was hoping they had found some treasure trove around Wichita that would bring them back some day,” Rine said.

Fritz and picking partner Mike Wolfe’s show follows them around the country as they buy antiques for resale. The two spent time in Kiowa County on Sunday and Monday shooting for a future show before wrapping up their Kansas trip.

“We have a small community, and it was nice of them to kind of … come down to reality and take pictures with all of us normal people,” said Victor Mejia, manager of the 54 Truck Stop in Mullinville.

He said others who have passed through, such as professional sports teams, have not been as friendly.

“They’re too good for us,” Mejia said of the ball players. Fritz and Wolfe and their crew “were pretty nice. They hugged everybody.”

Greensburg resident Jill Eller, who owns Kiowa Supply in Mullinville, played hostess for the visitors on Sunday.

“We just invited them to chill for a while,” Eller said. “It was just a little relaxation after a hot day.”

Her geodesic dome home, which she built following the tornado that devastated Greensburg, attracts attention from lots of out-of-town film crews.

“We just like to speak about being green and the things you can do,” Eller said.

“We’ve had the Weather Channel at our house,” she said. Last week, Eller said, a TV crew from California came and “played shuffleboard until about 2 in the morning. We had a big time.”

Wolfe and the crew were treated to dips and dessert at Eller’s house, but Fritz didn’t come.

“Frank, I think, was tired,” Eller said.

She said Wolfe and the crew are “just genuinely people like us except they’re very busy and on the road a lot.”

Eller said she watched one of the “American Pickers” vans drive past her shop several times on Monday.

“They didn’t have any followers, so I guess they’re doing OK.”

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Valley Center’s Midwest Dance Mechanix to move to Wichita and expand

UPDATED — The 3-year-old Midwest Dance Mechanix in Valley Center has grown so much – from 35 students to about 175 – it’s out of space.

Owner Jana Owen looked for new space in Valley Center but didn’t find any, so she’s instead moving to 3805 N. Hydraulic in Wichita. That’s the northwest corner of 37th and Hydraulic. She says it’s only 10 minutes from where she is now, “which is important to me to not alienate … the people who we started our business with.”

The business is growing from two studios in 2,300 square feet to three studios in more than 4,500 square feet.

“It’s got some real benefits to it,” Owen says of the building. She says it’s safe and quiet, and “it just has a real presence about it.”

Owen says she’ll be able to add more classes so students can practice more and, she hopes, go on to become professional dancers.

That’s “the ultimate goal for us,” she says.

“It’s just really kind of coming to the culmination of what I’ve always wanted for the kids.”

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