“I’ve got what I call PFPT, Passion for the Past,” says James Plumlee, owner of Picker Joe’s Antique Mall. “It’s not just the items. It’s the people I meet and the history along the way that I love most about this business. It’s when people come in and say, ‘Oh, my grandmother had this,’ and we share stories. It’s about memories.”
Plumlee has been in the pickin’ business for six years now, and despite dealing in antiques, his work never grows old. “We are an experience like no other. It’s not just the items or the stuff in the store. It’s the environment around it,” Plumlee said. “We get travelers from all over the world now. People seek us out all the time because they’re looking to buy or sell things, and they know that we look for the unique and different.”
The store also specializes in architectural salvage, rescuing items like doors, gates, fencing, windows, and stained glass before it’s sent to a landfill.
“We try to save everything we can. We even import items from Nepal and Egypt,” Plumlee said.
Other than picking, Plumlee’s other great love is piloting. His air-scapades are what led him into the antique business in the first place. He spent two and a half years selling aviation antiques from a booth at Wright Square Antique Mall — specialty pieces like the gauges from the Chinese fighter craft he flew in shows for 10 years. Encouraged by the joy and success he found in this hobby, he decided to leave his work in the towing and auto repair business and open up a shop of his own.
Plumlee’s next great feat will be televising his two passions with “Sky Pickers,” a show about rapidly sourcing the rare, specialty, or unusual from around the world by air. Picker Joe’s regularly works with the production companies that come through town. They’d been working with the production company of “Great American Pickers” before COVID hit. Inspired by the show, he decided to branch out and create something of his own.
“I started thinking we could do something completely different,” Plumlee said. “These set designers come in, and they’re like, ‘We need this, and we needed it yesterday.’ So, we go out and get it. It’s kind of like a rapid response prop location team.”
For all things pickin’, Savannah’s film presence, architecture, and history make this the perfect city for Plumlee’s business to thrive. “It’s great. It’s a good feeling. We work really hard,” Plumlee said. “A big thank you to Savannah for believing in us and helping us continue to grow.”