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Byron antiques mall hosts taping for national TV show

BYRON -- Like they often do, Jay Fulcher and Rocky Bales unloaded their rusty, barnyard collectibles onto a table at the Big Peach Antiques Mall. But their efforts early Wednesday were for a special occasion.

“We’re not expecting to sell a lot today,” Fulcher said.

The men, who rent a booth at the antiques mall, were selling to contestants in a nationally televised competition: “Endless Yard Sale,” which airs on the Great American Country Channel. The Big Peach was chosen as a location for filming its third episode of the season.

“It’s a hybrid show,” host Paul Brown said. “Endless Yard Sale” mixes antique picking with competition.

For the segment of the show shot Wednesday, three two-person teams were given $50 and 15 minutes to buy the item that would later draw the highest appraisal.

The winning team of the short challenge has an advantage during the next leg of the race, which will continue filming Thursday in other parts of Georgia, including near the Twelve Oaks plantation in Clayton County and Camp Creek Greenway in Lilburn.

During the two-day competition, the teams -- which weren’t made available for interviews Wednesday -- race around the state with $1,000 cash in their pockets and stop at antique malls and flea markets along a suggested route to try to buy, sell and trade.

The teams are given a phone with limited capabilities, so they have no way of assessing their own purchases. Along the way, Brown also texts daily challenges to the teams to throw wrenches into the competition, like a requirement to buy an old children’s toy or an automotive object.

By the end of the trek, the contestants must display their best five items, and the ones who come away with the biggest bang for their buck win. Winners are allowed to loot one especially valuable or interesting piece from the two losers’ piles.

Brown said he has seen a team walk away with a pile of antiques appraised at $7,500.

Last season the show began with two pilot episodes, but that’s rather unusual in the world of entertainment, said Stephen Pettinger, the show’s executive producer. He added that the show is labor intensive, so the network wanted to make sure the concept worked.

High ratings for the pilot episodes motivated Great American Country Channel to order more shows.

“I’m here to deliver them,” Brown said enthusiastically about his job. He could be seen in various places around the set Wednesday sticking out his tongue or making funny faces.

The Great American Country Channel is owned by Scripps Networks Interactive who create lifestyle-oriented content for television and the Internet. Other networks under their umbrella include HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network and the Cooking Channel.

Our House Media, a Canada-based company, produces “Endless Yard Sale.”

COLLECTORS COLLECTING COLLECTIBLES

Usually the teams that are cast to appear on “Endless Yard Sale” are amateur or professional pickers or they’re antiques collectors who show an eye for vintage treasures.

A lack of audience members for the show’s filming in Middle Georgia didn’t deter the two dozen crew members onset or the antique vendors, such as Fulcher and Bales, who displayed their collectibles outdoors and inside the mall for the cameras.

Bales and Fulcher, both 56, said they each have several buildings full of antiques at their homes in Crawford County, and they travel twice a year to farms in Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa to hunt for every item from wagon wheels to weather vanes.

“Anything primitive, we jump on,” Fulcher said.

Fulcher and Bales first met and began their 30-year-long joint antiquing hobby while working a midnight shift loading newspapers into trucks, but years of collecting baseball cards predated their chance meeting.

Expectations for selling may have been low for the day, but Bales and Fulcher never faltered on their shared interest in collecting collectibles -- even trying to guess the origins of a long wooden object and showing off a metal container that was once used with cannons.

“I wish more younger people would get into it,” Fulcher said. “You don’t see a lot of young people (collecting) anymore.”

Big Peach co-owner Heather Klemm, who owns the antique mall with her husband, John, disagrees.

“Antiquing is a hobby that reaches all age levels,” Klemm said.

The Big Peach Antiques Mall houses more than 200 dealers and 33,000 square feet of antiques and collectibles.

Klemm said she thinks they have the biggest antique mall in the area.

Some people may have an antiques obsession, but Brown doesn’t.

Although Brown doesn’t collect items himself, he said he gets his fill from learning the history behind the “stuff.”

“I call it all stuff,” said Brown, who is a fourth-generation antiquer.

Brown is the former host of “Auction Kings” on the Discovery Channel and owner of the recently closed Gallery 63 auction house.

“This show is a lot of fun,” Brown said. “And I’m not just saying it’s fun because I’m on it.”

Although the exact date has not been released, the episode is expected to air this fall.

After leaving Georgia, “Endless Yard Sale” will film the rest of the season in Tennessee, North Carolina and end in Charleston, South Carolina.

“Any excuse to come to the South, we do it,” Pettinger said. “The people are friendlier here.”

To contact writer Conner Wood, call 744-4489.

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