Jeff and Tammy Castillo own Hollywood Wardrobe Connection in Maysville.

MAYSVILLE Jeff Castillo said his business is constantly evolving.

Jeff and his wife, Tammy, own Hollywood Wardrobe Connection on East Second Street in Maysville. They sell recognizable clothing, shoes and items worn by lead actors, extras and musicians in movies, TV shows or in concert.

“It started out in memorabilia, strictly memorabilia,” Jeff Castillo said. “Strictly props and costumes that were recognizable to specific actors of films, and we did that online, solely online for direct sale and auction since 2003.”

Hollywood Wardrobe Connection is a division of the Castillos' other business, Icons of Pop Culture. The difference: The former sells clothing and other items to the public, while the latter auctions memorabilia online to collectors, investors and museums.

The Castillos opened their Maysville shop in early October, but they have been in the clothing business some three years and memorabilia for 20 years. There's a wide range of sizes, including a dress Martina McBride wore in concert, a dress from the canceled TV series “L.A's Finest,” and Kevin James's size XXL or larger shirts.

Props you can see at the shop include the “Verdell” dog food bowl from the 1997 film “As Good As It Gets;" posters from “Friends” and other shows and movies; and part of a glove used in 1980s “The Empire Strikes Back.”

The Castillos frequently went to conventions scrounging for Star Wars posters. A favorite memory: the 1987 convention in Los Angeles to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the movie's opening.

“We ended up in an auditorium where Anthony Daniels, the guy that played C-3PO, was going to do a presentation, Q-and-A, and then do free autographs for everybody that was in the auditorium,” Jeff Castillo said. “ … He came out wearing one of his costume hands, and everybody went nuts.

“You can see it's had better days, and all the metal components are missing. Once (Daniels) has worn it for a few days and it's cracking, they retire it and pull all the metal pieces off, apply them to another hand and toss that one in the trash.”

Tammy Castillo has deep Maysville roots – her dad, Ray Johnson, once worked at the Russell Theatre, which opened in 1930 and is available for weekly movie showings. He still lives in Maysville.

Moving the business to Mason County was a joint decision.

“I figured we could still do it using the internet,” Tammy Castillo said.

Among the items you see on the store's brick walls are posters from the iconic TV show “Friends.”

“People want a piece of the show,” Tammy Castillo said.

The Castillos were in their teens in West Palm Beach, Florida, when they met Oct. 26, 1985, at a mall in Boynton Beach. Mrs. Castillo was a greeter at a newly opened record store.

Of course, their first date involved a movie – 1985's “Once Bitten” starring Jim Carrey, Karen Kopins, Lauren Hutton and the late Cleavon Little.

You might wonder: Did Tammy Castillo think Jeff was a catch?

“Yeah, yeah, he was,” Tammy said. “He seemed nice. I said, 'Why not take a shot?'”

Jeff Castillo's memorabilia memories began May 27, 1977.

“I was 9 years old when 'Star Wars' came out, and it just blew me away,” he said. “I was fixated on that; anything I could get my hands on – books, tapes, records, photos, cards, anything. I wallpapered my room with this stuff.”

The Castillos obtain their inventory from studios after a show has been canceled, a movie ends production or items have been retired. Which means, they aren't fooled into buying counterfeit knockoffs.

“Once we get it, we pull it out of the boxes and decide its path,” Jeff said. “If it's recognizable, if it's something Brad Pitt wore, it goes in auction online. If it's something worn by extras, background characters or unused by main characters, it'll go on the floor here in the store or online for direct sale.”

Tammy Castillo said the “Friends” posters are her favorite items, mostly because the series was her favorite.

“I watch it every day, still,” she said.

The business almost closed in 2010 after Jeff Castillo's brother Ron died.

“We almost threw in the towel when that happened,” Castillo said. “When he passed, we were still only doing memorabilia; we were doing display cases for everything we sold, basically … I have the very last case that (Ron) built.

“He was huge. That loss was devastating; still is.”

The Castillos don't pursue actors, but they remember one: Thomas F. Wilson, who played Biff, Griff and Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen in the “Back to the Future” film trilogy.

“Tom Wilson was doing a comedy show in Miami; I wanted to meet him and get his autograph, just to say hi,” Castillo said.

The Castillos have a sense of humor. They've acquired props from the TV series “Breaking Bad” – complete with buckets of fake drugs.

“I'm gonna get little baggies and put a sign on the windows that says 'Meth',” he said.

The Castillos once thought collecting memorabilia wouldn't be anything but a hobby. They were wrong – but they don't mind.

“This hobby will keep you on your knees, and it will not let you breathe or think of anything else,” Castillo said. “It's still got me on my knees.”

RAY SCHAEFER is a freelance writer living in Maysville.

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