Market Warriors Hunt for Flea-market Finds

Are you an avid collector looking for treasure in the unlikeliest of places? Market Warriors is the show for you

Credit: PBS

A quartet of expert antiquers try to turn trash into treasure in the new PBS series Market Warriors

Market Warriors follows expert antique pickers as they race to find unlikely treasure

It must be a sign of the tough economic times, but television is practically bursting at the seams with reality shows about “pickers” who sift through junkyards, flea markets and garage sales in hopes of finding an original Picasso sketch or Fabergé egg amongst the discarded detritus. 

The latest entry into the genre is Market Warriors, a new 20-episode PBS series from the producers of Antiques Roadshow, which debuts this Monday right after Antiques Roadshow

The show follows the treasure-hunting exploits of a quartet of expert antique pickers: interior designer Bob Richter (a.k.a. “The Designer”); antique dealers John Bruno (“The Professor”) and Kevin Bruneau (“The Prowler”); and art appraiser Miller Gaffney (“The Assessor”). Each week, this fantastic four hits various flea markets and antique shows looking for vintage rarities that they can buy for a steal and then sell for a profit at auction.

“With Market Warriors, we wanted to turn the lens on the antiques experts themselves,” says Marsha Bemko, the show’s executive producer. “Our pickers aren’t your amateur-weekend-flea-market hobbyists — they are pros looking to turn a profit in a highly competitive setting where the element of chance and a little luck sometimes trump expertise.” 

Striking Gold at the Flea Market or Garage Sale (with a Little Help from Fred Willard)

Like similar shows such as American Pickers or Junk Brothers, Market Warriors can be instructive in helping the layperson recognize the difference between worthless trash and valuable collectibles, although there’s no substitute for the experience these four bring to the table. Of course, antique picking isn’t just about making money, it’s also about finding items that you actually have a connection with. As Bruno instructs, “Buy an object because you love it, want to learn from it, and because you want to preserve it.” 

What makes the show even more engaging is its secret weapon: host Fred Willard. Known for offbeat roles in Christopher Guest comedies such as Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman, Willard is a collector himself (sports memorabilia) and provides his unique brand of wry colour commentary to the proceedings (although only his voiceover, not Willard himself, appears in the show).

“Who better to guide viewers through the challenges our pickers face?” says Bemko, noting that Willard “brings to the series both his signature improvisational skills and the eye and know-how of a collector.”

Market Warriors premieres Monday, July 16 at 9 pm on KCTS and 6 pm on WTVS.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.