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Mid-Week Mugging: Meet Jim at All About Used

His store has mastered the 'Art of Second Hand'
jim from all about used
Jim Sotiropoulos is owner of All About Used on Burton Avenue. Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

A life-size, wooden horse is one of the most memorable items to come through the doors at Jim Sotiropoulos' shop.

"That was a spectacular piece," said Sotiropoulos as he recalls the giant horse arriving in five pieces.

But All About Used on Burton Ave. is 8,000 square feet of unique finds both big and small and has been a Barrie fixture for decades.

You can't miss it driving by. There's a helicopter on the roof. 

Sotiropoulos opened the store in 1995 after moving with his wife to Barrie from Brampton.

He was in educational television production in health care and school boards back then and was initially going to set up his shop in Brampton.

But he says Cash Converters had opened and he didn't want to compete so the Sotiropoulos' decided to move to Barrie for a 'whole new life.'

"We've had a following of regular customers since we opened in '95 so that's always nice to see," he said.

All About Used was originally called A Place With No Name.

Sotiropoulos sold the business at one point but was drawn back in 2009.

All About Used is two floors of vintage items, antiques and everything in between and that's what makes it interesting - at 'affordable prices.'

"There's some gorgeous pieces we've picked up through the years," he said. 

"It's a treasure hunt. Usually people because they're moving on they have ten, fifteen pieces they're not taking with them because they're downsizing," he said. 

From jewelry to telescopes to furniture, All About Used does repairs, tax is always included in the price and they stand behind everything they sell.

The store's slogan is 'The Art of Second Hand' and on trend with the popularity of refurbishing and repainting old furniture. 

"There's some craftsmanship that you're never going to see anymore and I think people appreciate that," said Sotiropoulos. 

"We've had people furnish complete apartments, a good chunk of a home, saying 'Hey I just saved X amount of dollars.'"

Television shows like Pickers and Pawn Stars have changed customers' expectations, he says, especially on collectable items.

There's also the impact of the internet where people can get prices - realistic or not - on the web.

His business is not without some Hollywood moments too when bidding wars break out.

"We had a gorgeous Indonesian armoire that came from a family whose parents had it for 45 to 50 years," he recalled. 

"We had a bidding war on them. People came back offering an extra $2,000 saying 'You can split it with them.' We had to honour the original sale."

A highlight for this long-time businessman is the people he's met along the way and his long-time staff, who are like family.

That's not to say he hasn't eyed many items over the years but he has a rule.

Living in a small, war-time bungalow, he doesn't take anything home. 

"I've let some beautiful stuff slip through my fingers. I know that," said Sotiropoulos.

"There's always a piece that comes through that tickles your fancy and you say 'Hey that's spectacular.'  We won't see it again. We know that but it's okay. You can't fall in love with this stuff. It's a business. You gotta let it go," he said. 

"Thank god I have a small house," he adds with a laugh. 

All About Used is located at 171 Burton Ave.