Thacker to Appear on Netflix Reality Show


swapshoponeLincoln Memorial University (LMU) alumnus Larry Thacker, Jr., is set to appear in the upcoming Netflix reality show, “Swap Shop.” The show is scheduled for a premiere date of Tuesday, November 9.


Thacker, a native of Middlesboro, Kentucky, earned three degrees from LMU. He graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in history. As an undergraduate he was very active in campus life. He was Student Government Association vice president and president, participated in choir and theater productions, and was a member of Gamma Lambda Sigma fraternity. He also was a recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. Thacker later earned a Master of Education degree and an Educational Specialist degree. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing with an emphasis on poetry and fiction from West Virginia Wesleyan College. Additionally, he’s an Army veteran.


“Swap Shop” is based on the program “World Famous Swap Shop,” a regular show on WRGS radio in Rogersville, Tennessee. The Netflix description of the show states, “When the ‘Swap Shop’ radio show shares the scoop on sweet deals, collectors of cars, comics, creepy clown statues and more listen with ears wide open.” The trailer for the show is available online at


Although he has worn many hats, Thacker’s love of history and lifelong learning lead him in the direction of reselling antique and vintage items. His full-time job is writing. He has written or co-written 10 books – consisting mainly of poetry and short stories. In addition to writing, he paints, is an adjunct faculty member at a community college, and he buys, or “picks,” and sells unique items – which resulted in his appearance on the program.


Several years ago, he moved to Johnson City, Tennessee, where his wife Karin lived. He said he had always wondered if there would be a market for the oddities he enjoyed collecting. He added that he has one of the largest retail collections of creepy clowns in the region. Thacker eventually ended up at West Main Antiques in downtown Johnson City as a vendor. He now manages the store. The owner, Victoria Cooley, is his “picking” partner on the show. The Netflix show spotlights several duos who are regular listeners to the radio show.


“It (the show) is funny, fast-moving, educational, and we have some friendly competition with the others who listen to ‘Swap Shop,’” he said, adding that the show is an East Tennessee show with “genuine” personalities. In addition to Thacker, a Claiborne County couple appears regularly on the show. Doug and Jennifer Seals own Pickers Paradise, a popular store located at 1316 N. Broad St., Tazewell.


Two more LMU alumni also played a part in the filming of “Swap Shop.” Mitchell (’84) and Mike (’89) Cosby, are brothers who have a long family history in Claiborne County, especially the Forge Ridge community. Their small antique, collectible, and community memorabilia shop, Cosby General Store, is located at 895 Poplar Grove Rd., Harrogate. Their shop isn’t open for “regular” business hours, just occasionally, but is a popular gathering place for the community. People often sit around and play music there, as well.


“We’re friends with Doug and Jen, and they wanted to come up and visit during taping for the show,” Mitchell said, adding that they “traded around” a little and were taped playing bluegrass as well. Another Cosby generation, Mitchell’s son Chase, was also on hand playing music.


Although the participants don’t know how big (or small) their part will be in the program, Thacker and the Cosbys enjoyed the experience.


Thacker said he feels “lucky, blessed, and stunned” to be chosen for the program. As for advice he would tell the LMU undergraduate student Larry? “Don’t take yourself so seriously. You don’t know everything you think you know,” he said, laughing. “Be resourceful, but be true to yourself.”


Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423.869.6280 or email at

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