Update: Mr. Used is downsizing (and mostly gone).
After 30 years, Wareing is aiming at the unthinkable — reducing his inventory from 70,000 square feet to a mere 7,000. Herculean is the adjective that comes to mind when one contemplates clearing out all the toilets, countertops, doors, electrical motors, chairs, cabinets, stovetops, rocking horses, windows, fireplace mantels and electric fireplace logs, old sewing machines and slightly less old pinball machines, jukeboxes, radios and more.
Not too far down a dead end road off Barton St. E stands a warehouse with the words “USED” plastered across the side of the building. Decorated with everything from street signs, to scrap metal, to a canopy entrance housing a miniature fighter plane, the outside of Mr. Used precedes its reputation as a second-handers dream. For Hamiltonians who know of Mr. Used, commentary is almost like folklore: Many have been, many have seen, but no one can quite give justice to what exactly lies, literally, in-store.
When you enter, every patron is welcomed with the requisite greeting, “Welcome to Mr. Used. Everything you see is for sale unless otherwise marked, all prices are negotiable.” After that – the journey is up to you. Amongst the rows of old doors and windows, used bumper cars and stacks of bar stools, you might stumble upon a gold-plated coffin or a box of mannequin parts. Look hard enough and you may notice an old ice cream truck or VW microbus hiding underneath mountains of books and toys. Take a stroll around the corner to see some antique pianos but don’t touch – if you hadn’t noticed, a collection of taxidermied wildlife are watching your every move. Very few items have marked prices and as the heaps of items and manmade aisles suggest, there is no telling how long these treasures have been buried.
Like the city itself, Mr. Used is a true reflection of Hamilton and its people: odds and ends from every walk of life that somehow find a home together in a rather unconventional way. On any given day you’ll find an assortment of people: curious locals and families wandering the endless makeshift aisles to artists and film crews, cautiously scouring through piles of ‘stuff’, looking for their next great find. Where else could the makers of “Saw” – the psychologically gruesome horror franchise – find the perfect collection of mechanisms for their infamous torture devices? The industry doesn’t just come looking either. The taped-off remnants of CBC’s long-running “The Red Green Show”’s ‘Possum Lodge’ illustrate that if The Boss wants it, Mr. Used gets it.
Whether you’re looking to buy, trade, sell, or simply explore, Mr. Used should be on every “to-see” list in Hamilton. During the summer months Mr. Used is open Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm and closed Sundays. Mr. Used is located at 984 Barton St. E. at Belview Ave (between Gage and Ottawa St.)
- Kara Weiler