Show not always about ‘the stuff’

The Canadian Pickers explain to The Record what has endeared them to many loyal fans

Scott Cozens (left) and Sheldon Smithens talk to Mission’s Bobby Tapp

Climbing into a derelict ferry’s crow’s nest amid howling winds and freezing rain briefly flitted across Scott Cozens’ mind, but cowboy boots don’t exactly have the right amount of traction.

Cozens and his partner Sheldon Smithens were in Mission Jan. 20 filming an upcoming episode of the popular History Channel television show, Canadian Pickers.

The pair travel across the country, scouring old barns, houses and shops looking for antiques, collectibles and curiosities that they eventually turn around and sell to retailers. Now in its third season, the popular reality show has gained a solid following.

The old BC Ferries ship, the Queen of Sidney, moored just off Cooper Avenue in Mission proved to be the first ferry the outgoing men had ever “picked.”

“It was filled with vintage cars, trucks, forklifts and other stuff that was just rotting away,” said Cozens, sporting his distinctive cowboy hat, boots, and shoulder-length silver hair. “It was fun, though. Often it’s not always what we get, it’s about the visual.”

Sometimes the most interesting part is who we’re buying from, said Smithens.

The two are on the road filming about four months each year, and the episode in Mission will be the second of the season, set to air later this year.

Besides the day-long stop in Mission, the pickers also went to properties in New Westminster, Langley, Victoria and Nanaimo. This week they are in Ontario.

The show is the only one of its type in the country, said Smithens, and said besides the interesting people and places, it’s the history behind the pieces they find that enthralls people.

Each man is drawn to different items. Cozens loves pre-Second World War advertising and First Nations art, while Smithens likes anything that tells local history.

Fans of the show will be pleased to hear that a number of the items the two purchased in seasons one and two will be sold in season three, as many avid viewers constantly ask what happens with the stuff they purchase.

But it’s not always about the stuff; it’s the relationship between us and the people we meet, added Cozens, who during the off-season, works as a civil litigator in Calgary.

The two have been friends for more than 20 years, and the chemistry between them is also a draw for viewers, especially since they spend hours together in their white van.

“I’m just an incredibly patient individual,” quipped Smithens, adding, “we balance each other out.”

“We both like wilderness and music and we have lots of commonality,” noted Cozens.

But in the end it comes down to respect for each other, said Smithens, and that they don’t take themselves too seriously, even though in Canadian terms, they’re approaching celebrity status.

“With us, what you see on TV is what you get in real life,” said Cozens.

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