Memoirs of Honest Ed’s

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I wrote about this back in April 2014, but now the iconic Toronto store is close to shutting it’s doors for the final time on New Year’s Eve. Over the past year Honest Ed’s has been selling it’s locally famous hand painted signs and this last weekend was supposedly the ‘final sign sale’ so I opted to go down and check it out for myself.

In case you were wondering about my history with Honest Ed’s I’ve written about it before but I’ll reiterate. As a kid born to immigrants Honest Ed’s was known as the place to find cheap deals and there were always interesting characters from the shoppers to the employees to the Mirvishes themselves. Whenever, we went to see family in Parkdale usually Honest Ed’s along with Dufferin Mall and Queen West were on our to-do list whether I liked it or not.

Christmas season we would trek there to look for bargains on gifts while Boney M Christmas was blaring through the store on repeat. My mom was smart though she would bribe me with a beef patty from Bathurst station for my patience.

While, in the store today random conversations were happening between total strangers talking about their experiences here with their parents or with their kids. It was like a Toronto living history lesson. One man said his dad would shop at the original store and other people reminisced about first coming to Canada and this being the place they got their first belongings upon arrival in Toronto.

Some people were here looking for signs to resell online while others like myself were searching and searching and searching for the right piece of Toronto nostalgia for their wall or basement.

Personally, my mission was to find a sign or a few for items I actually bought here as a kid. Some would grab a bunch of signs and find an area to sort through them while people like me would try to design the layout of signs on my wall. Prices ranged from $1 to $200+ it varies on the design, size and age of the sign.

It is kind of funny to me that now in Toronto we are struggling with not having enough community areas for people to gather and wander around meanwhile places that gave you that opportunity like Honest Ed’s are forced to close their doors because in Toronto condos are our hobby. Rumour has it there are plans for a big closing bash, hopefully many of us can pass through.

Ethnicity, gender and other demographics did not matter here all that mattered was finding the best deal for your family, meeting like minded people and maybe making good conversation in the process, now that’s something Amazon has yet to deliver.

Walk it out people,Β 

WAYNIE

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A Farewell to Legendary Stores in Toronto: Honest Ed’s

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Now I will be the first to admit that Honest Ed’s is not closed until Dec. 31st 2016 but it still is unfortunately on the way out and that Honest Ed’s handmade signs sale they had a few weeks conjured up some nostalgia for me. As I am sure Honest Ed’s provides nostalgic memories for many residents in the GTA.

Since its inception back in 1948, Honest Ed’s has been an indelible landmark in Toronto. Whether it was throwing over the top birthday parties for Honest Ed Mirvish filled with freebies for the crowd, giving away free turkeys around Christmas season or even the hand painted signage inside of the store Honest Ed’s is undoubtedly one of a kind. For plenty of people living in Toronto whether new to Canada or old to Canada if you wanted a deal Honest Ed’s was on your list of places to check out.

As the child of immigrant parents I can speak first-hand about the impact this store had for us. My mother waking my sister and me up on a weekend morning demanding we get dressed because we had to go. Keep in mind we lived in Scarborough and Honest Ed’s is located on Bathurst and Bloor we had a bit of distance to cover. Usually, when we were visiting family that lived in Parkdale an Honest Ed’s trip was virtually guaranteed. Taking the subway all the way there was a task in itself along with walking all over that store looking for stuff I didn’t want but my mother insisted we needed. Items such as: winter boots, undershirts, colouring books, touch lamps (you know you had one), Christmas decorations, frames, house slippers and so on were musts for my mom. If she knew it would be cheaper at Honest Ed’s rather than BiWay, Bargain Harold’s or Woolco (yes, I went there with you guys) we were going to be there a while! I swear if I didn’t get lost from my family at least once for each time we were there it would be a miracle.

I remember one Christmas season we went to Honest Ed’s and to this day when I think of Christmas I think of Boney M’s Christmas album because it was like etched into my memory from shopping and only hearing that album for like 3 hours straight.

I will admit the best part of going to Honest Ed’s would be when we were leaving to go home on the subway. Why? Simple, BEEF PATTIES at Bathurst Station! I do not care what anyone says the Beef Patties located at Bathurst and Warden Station are the BEST in Toronto. My mother recognized my struggles with keeping up with her so as a reward I would get a beef patty for my troubles. As you can tell, as a kid, bribing me was pretty easy.

Honest Ed’s is the quintessential family store created by a family for families of all types. It did not matter how much money or status you had or how well adapted to Toronto you were, you could always appreciate a good deal and a place filled with energy and the kind heart of Mr. Ed Mirvish. I was just there a week ago looking through records at Sonic Boom and it still gives me the same sense of awe as it did when I was kid. Only now it is because of what I gained from going there and how places like this are rare this day in age. The building may not last but the memories….those are forever!

Regards,

Waynie