History Channel’s reality hit show “American Pickers” has made Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz treasure-hunting celebrities, putting a spotlight on the trending hobby of “picking” or hunting for antique items that have regained market value.
However, picking isn’t just a trending fad for Franklinites. The city of Franklin has been a destination for pickers and collectors world wide. Recently The Factory at Franklin has become ground zero for experienced shoppers looking for unique, restored, repurposed and picked furniture and home decor. Besides being home to Antiques at the Factory – a collection of highly curated booths – The Factory at Franklin has added several new merchants including Relek, CR-71, and most recently City Farmhouse to its hub of culture, retail and entertainment.
Named for both the county roads traveled to secret honey holes and the initials of the treasure-hunters that drive them: Craig and Rick, CR-71 is a shop loaded with picked treasures, curated collectables, and re-imagined pieces that are equally impressive in their craftsmanship and uniqueness.
Craig Hentrich and Rick Dohler joined forces recently after mutual friends connected them due to their common interests. Rick, a General Contractor, was making custom furniture from picked items and reclaimed wood. Craig Hentrich, a retired punter from the Tennessee Titans, had begun turning his picking hobby into a profession. When the two decided to work together, CR-71 was established. Soon after, they opened the store front at The Factory and have been turning out one-of-a-kind treasures ever since.
I spoke with the two of them last weekend and found out some pretty fun facts about their partnership and the secret to their success in the picking business.
Why do you think your partnership works so well?
Craig: Our partnership works because we both love what we do, and we both respect the other’s opinion.
Rick: I believe our partnership works so well because we both have a passion for what we do and respect each other’s ideas and interests.
What is one skill or talent the other brings to the table?
Craig: Rick has a great way of dealing with people. In his years as a GC, he has dealt with many different personalities that has helped us in our business.
Rick: I have learned while working with Craig that he thinks each project through from beginning to end and has a clear vision of an end product.
What would you say if you were asked to do a reality show?
If you said yes, what would be the best part of watching you two?
Craig: A reality show would be hilarious because of the places and people that we deal with. There would not be a dull moment!
Rick: We have talked about it with several different companies and the verdict is still out. It would be a maybe. We don’t want to limit our creativity with a typical television show. If we did it the audience would be on a wild ride of craziness, entertainment and a lot of laughter.
Can you share with us some of the best picking spots, or what Mike Wolfe and Frank Fitz call “honey holes?”
Craig: Oh, we have many honey holes that we will not share!
Rick: The best honey holes are the ones with the most danger involved so for everyone’s safety we can’t tell. It’s a secret!
The two partners laughed their way through our time in the shop, walking around and telling me stories about the pieces they found and where. They appear to be as proud of their found treasures as they are about the ones they built, including this bar (seen above) they created from several elements they took off other vintage pieces. “Somebody is going to get a cool bar for their entertainment area,” Rick says with pride.
Before leaving, Craig made his marketing pitch “Tell people to come buy stuff,” Craig says playfully, “we have 7 kids between us!” I doubt they need much help convincing people to shop in their store. The Kicker- Turned-Picker continues to get some pretty spectacular wins.