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Tolna, N.D., man gets picked for 'American Pickers'

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TOLNA, N.D. — While many people consider their collections priceless, for this man that's more than just a saying, it's the truth.

Several times a week you will find Brian Nelson on his couch watching Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz travel across America in search of rare artifacts on his favorite show, History's "American Pickers."

"I thought these guys run around with the dream jobs," Nelson said.

Nelson is a collector himself. He still remembers that first purchase at a Saturday morning rummage sale: some marbles. "I did this before it was cool," he said.

But there is one rule: he stays within 100 miles of his home in Tolna, N.D., located approximately 80 miles west of Grand Forks.

"It's a continuous effort to find the next treasure."

While this 49-year-old antique junkie collects anything and everything, his favorite finds are Great Northern Railroad signs and soda signs.

"Everything has a great story to it and why it was used back in the day and why it's fun to save its life."

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And this collection of 9 years saved Brian's life. He served with the U.S. Army during the Gulf War and adjusting to life back home wasn’t easy.

"I decided I had to change my life, I quit drinking, started rummage saling and it all led to this."

Nelson even changed careers, going from a carpenter to a crop adjuster and city worker along with running a few side businesses.

"I had to find a way to make a living and still have time to go find antiques," he said. "But I went nuts and just started coming up with all this stuff and dragging it in the house and she had to pull back the reins how much of the house I got to decorate."

When asked how much he spends on antiques, he knew better than to respond. "Oh, God, I better not say that. She's listening!"

According to his fiancée, Nelson also had to find a new place to stash his newly discovered treasures, many of which are stored in a hidden location.

But those hidden treasures weren't hard to find for "American Pickers."

The show wanted to visit North Dakota for the first time and after hearing about Brian Nelson’s collection through social media, the show picked him.

"I almost didn't believe it," he said. "I couldn't have been more honored. It was a true privilege to do it."

Now since the show hasn't aired yet, Nelson couldn't reveal the items the show went through but he did confirm he has some extra space there now.

"I did have some funny feeling about that because I have never sold much, I kind of hoarded it, and kept it, I never had a plan."

His plan now is to fill that extra space with some new treasures. "All it is is an extra dollar to go shopping again," he said.

Nelson admitted he misses those antiques that are no longer his but he's looking forward to sharing them with a national audience.

"I don't know what my goal is anymore. I have reached the top of picking. 'American Pickers' picked me. Where do you go from here?"

The air date for the American Pickers show featuring Nelson has not been set yet.

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