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Alive 2
                       The Man With a Million Atari Games
                               By Suzanne Ashe

What would you do with more than a million brand-new Atari game
cartridges? Why, sell them, of course. Bill Houlehan of O'Shea Limited has
been in the overstock reselling business for the past 25 years. He has
bought and sold everything from container loads of PCs to bushels of Mr.
Potato Head foot massagers. But the overstock items that have caught the
most attention from consumers and collectors are the thousands of boxes of
Atari 2600 and 7800 game cartridges he keeps in his limestone cavern
warehouse in Kansas City, Missouri.

"People are shocked when they find out the games are not opened," said the
51-year-old father of six. In fact, these are the same games Atari had in
its warehouse when the company shut down operations in 1991. Initially,
Houlehan purchased 2.3 million cartridges with the plan to market them to
retailers in Holland and other Scandinavian and European countries. In ten
years he has only managed to trim the stock down to 1.1 million.

"What I'm trying to do now is just let people know these games exist, and
I'm shipping them," he says. The inventory of 32 different games includes
such classics as Asteroids, Pole Position, Space Invaders, and Ms.
Pac-Man. The games are stored in a subterranean limestone lair. Boxes
stack almost to the 17-foot ceiling of the 22,000-square-foot mine turned

The average direct-to-consumer purchase is two of each of the 32 games.
"One to play and one to keep," Houlehan says. Atari fans are thrilled when
they crack into the packages, he says. "One guy said, 'When I opened up
the box, it was as if I could smell the '80s.'"

The games sell for $2 each, discounted down to 80 cents each for large
wholesale orders. Although Houlehan will ship orders to anywhere in the
world, and no order is too small, it'll take the next couple of decades to
clear out the rest of the inventory 64 pieces at a time. That's a lot of
work for what is essentially a one-man operation. "When the retail stores
stopped carrying the games, it was word of mouth, news groups, and
collectors who were buying the games," he says.

Recently articles about the overstock have appeared in Wired, Stuff, and
Gear magazines, which has generated a buzz and consequently more business.
What Houlehan wants to do, however, is sell the entire cartridge inventory
to a company that will offer them as promos. But what are most folks going
to do with a 20-year-old game? Play it, of course. More than 30 million
Atari game systems were sold in the United States and 90 percent of them
are still out there, Houlehan says. He said he would also help customers
locate used machines, controllers, and other add-ons if they don't have a
unit tucked away in the attic or basement.

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