MARKETING: Ollie's Items Far from Hardy

Ollie's Items Far from Hardy

Seemingly within moments of Oliver North's appearance at the congressional Iran-contra hearings in July, quick-witted entrepreneurs rushed to cash in on Olliemania. There were Ollie T shirts, bumper stickers and dolls. The Old Man River Doghouse, an eatery in Tonawanda, N.Y., created the Oliver North sandwich, with beef, bologna, shredded lettuce and a "secret covert sauce."

But fame can be as fleeting as an image on a television screen: Olliemania is a bust. Joel Shelton of Boulder sold (at $12 each) fewer than 500 shirts bearing North's picture. John Lee Hudson of San Francisco is canceling plans for a mail-order Ollie...