You know that dilapidated building you drive by on your way to work? Or that boarded-up eyesore wedged between the high-rises downtown? If you’ve ever wanted to just tear them down, you wouldn’t be alone. But there’s a team of collectors who see more than just abandoned buildings… they see dollar signs! Before the bulldozers roll in, their mission is to dig through these dark, dank and dilapidated structures in the hopes of uncovering forgotten pieces of American history that may just be worth a lot of money.
Armed with flashlights, walkie-talkies and brute muscle strength, the guys venture into spooky basements and structurally unsound buildings to find valuables that can be refurbished and resold. This season, they ransack the former Pabst Brewing headquarters in Milwaukee, Wis., rummage through the basement of a historic church in Philadelphia, Pa., and traverse a paper factory the size of 12 football fields in Jay, Maine.
Along the way, they’ll find classic items like Coca-Cola memorabilia, an Edison phonograph, and a Zenith radio, as well as surprising discoveries like an early radiator oven and a top-secret manual for a Boeing B-52 bomber. Jay, Dan and Mark will bargain for relics of all sizes that boast big value, from a stained glass window worth $10,000 to a pile of 19th-century tiles worth over $100 each.
Often, the hardest part of the job is not finding the treasure, but negotiating the best price for it. Jay haggles with the building owners to make a deal, often encountering stubborn and sentimental proprietors who are attached to nostalgia and family heirlooms. Using his charm, humor and policy of fair prices, Jay rarely ends the day empty-handed. When he’s close to sealing a risky deal, Jay makes a quick phone call to his wife, Ricki Chaikin. Although Jay sports the overalls, Ricki wears the pants in their business relationship. She has the final say when Jay wants to go over budget to buy a big-ticket item. When he returns home to Sellersville, Pa., Jay brings his purchases to his workshop, transforming carts into leather chairs and mill hoppers into custom coffee tables.
About the Team:
Jay Chaikin is the team’s fearless leader—literally. He’ll squeeze into any crack or crevice to collect cool stuff, often risking life and limb to reach a coveted object. He’s also a walking encyclopedia, identifying the industrial and historical value of millstones and reverse paintings as soon as he sees them. In 1996 Jay founded JC Woodworking, a home construction business that builds antique log cabins and barn materials with reclaimed materials.
Dan Graham is one of Jay’s childhood friends and his right-hand man when they explore abandoned buildings. He brings technical know-how to the team, and is also the group’s resident prankster, playing tricks on Mark in especially spooky spots.
Mark Pakenas is the rookie on the team but has no trouble uncovering awesome items, including an early radiator oven. With his strength and a well-timed wisecrack, Mark brings hard work and humor to any trip. But that doesn’t mean nothing scares him: When he finds a not-so-cuddly creature living inside a bucket, the joke’s on him.
Ricki Chaikin is Jay’s wife and the co-owner of JC Woodworking. She’s in charge of the business operations and ensures that the guys stick to budget and bring home enough goods to make a profit. She also has the final word on negotiations and is a tough sell when it comes to Jay’s wish list items, including a flathead V8.
The all-new series, Abandoned, premieres Wednesday August 22 at 9P et/pt