The Strangest Show on the History Channel: Down East Dickering

Ever been at a garage sale, or scrolling through Craigslist, and just as you’re about to give up, you find something really special? It’s a rare experience that only happens a few times in one’s life. For some, it’s finding an unopened Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s ‘Music for the People’ CD, but for others, it may just be the reality TV show Down East Dickering.

Airing on the History Channel (for some reason) from 2014-15, which can now be found on Amazon Prime Video, Down East Dickering follows 3-5 groups in Maine, who live exclusively by buying, trading, or selling with the Craigslist-like magazine Uncle Henry’s. To give an idea of what you’re getting into, Bruce, one of the ‘Dickerers,’ as they call themselves, states, “I haven’t had a real job since 1980 something.” Once you meet him and some of the other groups, you might just understand why. 

The first group is Tony, his cousin Codfish, and Tony’s dog/financial advisor Duke. These guys mainly ‘dicker’ in real estate and old retro items, like Coca Cola signs or sleds (snowmobiles), but you’ll find they can sell just about anything. In the pilot episode, “Dickering 101,” they reach out to a guy who calls himself “The Crazy Indian,” who carries his landline phone around on his belt, which from my extensive research I’ve found is pretty uncommon. The gang buys a bucket of collectibles, in terrible condition, for $50. Later in that same episode, they manage to sell one of the collectibles, an old car part, for $700. 

In another episode, titled “Blood, Sweat and Dickerers,” they decide to renovate an old plot of land and sort of being the middlemen for the person selling it. At one point they realize they’ll need some of the trees and weeds removed. The part where this gets interesting is when they make a $5,000 agreement with a contracting company, Tony looks at the representative Ron, dead in the eyes, and says, “Now here’s the bad news. We ain’t got no money.” The craziest part is that Ron AGREES! Now, he does this because Tony makes a deal to pay him later, but still, Maine is a very different place, man.

Next are the father and son duo, Yummy and Mitchel. Yummy is a very interesting man. He’s the type of guy who decides whether or not to spend either $8,000 or $8,500 based on a coin flip. In multiple episodes, they deal with a friend of theirs,  Donny, who owns a pawn shop, and the interactions they have with each other are hilarious. More than once Donny says something along the lines of, “You got any money?” The answer is always no. 

In an episode titled “Dicker-Fest,” Yummy very casually initiates a wedding at a “wild and crazy redneck-themed event,” and with that in mind, Mitchel decides that the perfect wedding gift for the soon-to-be newlyweds is chickens. In turn, he finds an ad in Uncle Henry’s for free chickens, the only ‘catch’ is, he has to catch them. After catching some, he puts them into a plastic bin, letting them go while the wedding is going on. He takes from his father in terms of very, very interesting decision making. 

Finally, we have what I call “The Boys”: Clint, Bruce, and Nate, or as the show describes him, Clint’s “future ex-son-in-law.” If you need roofing or any other type of physical labor, these are the guys to call. They’ve got a couple of fun moments, like the time Clint bought an old 50s Dodge Wagon that only has literal crates as seats, but other than that the banter between them is the highlight here. One of my favorite parts is when Nate brags about the fact he’s never driven a car worth more than $600. 

Both “The Boys,” and the father and son duo are easily the best examples of how casual everyone reacts to the various situations they find themselves in, along with that the crazy statements made on seemingly a regular basis.

There are a few other groups, like Speedy and Tinman, who build a pontoon boat out of a picnic table, but the other groups’ moments don’t compare with the ones brought up, nothing quite as zany and absurd as Yummy saying, “Free? That’s a four-letter word. To everyone but Yummy.”

The concept of the show is nothing particularly original, as there are several other shows in the same vein, such as American Pickers. Down East Dickering has something those other shows never could, some of the most unique and interesting people on planet Earth. They give us hope that if these guys can make it, living off nothing but what most would call trash, anyone can. After all, just like they say in the show, “One man’s trash, is another man’s railing.”

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