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Cary Man Provides Nostalgia For Area Buffs

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CARY — Her candle burned out long ago, but her legend never did. So sang Elton John about Marilyn Monroe, and so goes the story of how we cling to legends of American pop culture. That fascination has become big business, and one Cary man has made a living peddling famous faces.

Barry Woodhouse makes his living serving customers hungry for nostalgia at his store, American Nostalgia.

"We've got about 2,000 square feet of stuff," he says.

"I have 13-year-olds coming in here looking for Marilyn Monroe."

And they find her. In magazines, posters, and postcards.

"This is an uncut sheet of post cards," he says, holding up a sheet of Monroe cards.

"I've had people coming in for two hours and just look around because it just brings back memories."

Barry's store in Cary is stacked with images that spark those memories, some more than others.

"(One) whole section is Beatles (and) Marilyn Monroe."

And, inevitably, Elvis.

"Elvis. There's a lot of Elvis," Woodhouse says.

Even Barry can not put his finger on it: why do people devote so much time, energy and money to the same few icons of pop culture?

They celebrate birthday, death-days, and come-back alive days.

"We had a lady come in a few weeks ago, she honestly still thinks [Elvis] is still living. There's certain people that have developed this aura, and they are above and beyond."

Above and beyond, and remembered decades after their death.

"She was so beautiful and had so much potential. To die so young like that was very sad," a browsing customer says in the Monroe section.

Barry is cashing in on the demand, feeding the frenzy for rare collectibles. And it is not just through his store, but also online.

"I do a lot of stuff on the Internet," he says.

It is online, with auction sites like e-Bay that makes these hard-to-find itesm available to a worldwide pool of customers.

A 1960 Marilyn Monroe poster is going for $400, and a two-piece casual suit once worn by Elvis fetches $4,000.

"And I've found that it has to be something unique," he says.

If Marilyn, Elvis, and the Beatles faces fade from memory, Woodhouse says there are a few who may inherit the pop culture throne.

"I have a lot of people ask for Jimi Hendrix," he says, and anything with Dale Earnhardt's visage now goes to the front of Barry's store.

"I think the things he accomplished, his attitude, his whole presence, (make his memorabilia popular)."

Woodhall's store is located in South Hills Mall, in Cary.


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