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July 8, 2013

One American Picker 'born and raised' in Athens

— Lauren Wray Grisham remembers her days in Athens like they were yesterday — memories of her strolls around old antique shops with her mother, days of working at her dad’s pawn shop, art classes on Saturday mornings and frequent stops at Sportsman’s Park for a sandwich, just to name a few.

Lauren was hired to manage Antique Archaeology Nashville two years ago by Danielle Colby-Cushman of Iowa, who co-stars with Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz on the History Channel television show “American Pickers.” Though Lauren now calls Nashville home, her love of Athens remains solid. She’s quick to tell those who ask, “I was born and raised in Athens, Alabama.”

“Luckily for me, I fit in pretty easily with the crew,” Lauren said. “I had a good background in this stuff and was ready for a new project.”

Lauren said she had just left a job working for Manuel, the rock and roll costume designer who makes rhinestone suits for entertainers like Keith Richards, Axl Rose and Jack White.

“I was ready for a big, new project,” she said. “Sure, I didn’t know exactly what to expect but I knew the store was going to be a success.”

The shop, located in a turn-of-the-century car factory on a side street in downtown Nashville, welcomes people from all over the world and hosts more than 1,000 fans daily, both Nashvillians and tourists. Lauren considers that pretty incredible.

“I talk to some of the most awesome people,” she said. “Everyone has a story to share.”

Lauren said a normal day at the shop isn’t what some would consider normal.

“I do a lot of different things,” she said.

Recently, she shipped a motorcycle, sent Mike pictures of some more motorcycles he was interested in, got an item appraised, talked to someone in the store about an item for sale, priced some items, talked to Danielle and met with an art director — all in a day’s work.

Lauren said when it comes to the American Pickers gang, what you see is what you get.

“Danielle is a pal of mine and is very much sassy and sweet, just like you see on the show,” Lauren said.

Mike Wolfe is “100 percent authentically passionate about all things Antique Archaeology. His enthusiasm is definitely contagious,” Lauren said. “Mike is totally energetic and excited about the stuff he finds — always,” she said. “Not gonna lie, sometimes I’m a little confused about the stuff he brings in.”

Lauren said Mike usually says something along the lines of “Isn’t this thing cool? I bought it from this outlaw carnie in Nebraska who got it from so on and so forth.”

“I’m like, ‘yeah, OK, I get it now. It’s awesome,’” Lauren said. “I really feel that’s why the story (behind a piece) is so incredibly important.”

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