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Swap & Shop's Thacker to Speak at Haun Conference
January 31, 2022

Larry Thacker’s first job is writer, but lately he’s gained fame for his side hustle – buying and selling antiques on the Netflix hit TV show, “Swap Shop.” Thacker will explain how the two connect when he speaks at Walters State’s Mildred Haun Conference at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5. 

“I’ll be talking about the ‘Swap Shop’ and preserving Appalachia,” Thacker said. “It is important to preserve what Appalachia is all about and the people who actually live here, not just a popular caricature.”

Thacker said that the show has increased food traffic at West End Antiques, the Johnson City shop owned by Thacker and his co-star, Torie Cooley.

“Getting recognized by random people is new to me,” Thacker said. “People do come in and want to meet you, take a photo and talk about their antiques. Some people have the ‘perfect’ item to sell you. We’ve heard from people all over the world since the show aired.”

Thacker just learned that the release date for the show’s next season is Feb. 16.

He’s published 10 books and his poetry has appeared in over 180 publications. His acclaimed short story collection, “Working It Off in Labor County,” was published in 2021 by West Virginia University Press. He admits some of the characters trace their creation to people he has met antiquing. 

“One of the residents of the fictitious Labor County has a weird Uncle Arthur who runs a curiosity shop,” Thacker said, hinting that Uncle Arthur may bear striking similarity to himself.

Thacker has another claim to fame. He owns what is perhaps the world’s largest collection of clown figures. Do not fear, though, as he promises not to bring any to the conference. He will, however, have his books available for purchase. 
This isn’t Thacker’s first appearance at the Mildred Haun Conference. Regular attendees will remember his fiction-writing courses. 

Other featured writers at this year’s conference include Crystal Wilkerson, Charles Dodd White and Dr. Desirae Matherly. Events are held in the Judge William H. Inman Humanities Complex on the Morristown Campus. 

The Mildred Haun Conference begins on Feb. 4 and features writing workshops and scholarly presentations. All sessions are free and open to the public. Registration is requested. A registration form and a complete schedule can be found at https://www.ws.edu/special-events/mildred-haun/.