Looking Back: There will never be another store like Ed’s

Honest Ed’s, shown in many films and on TV, was as much a tourist attraction & landmark as a discount store


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The king of kitsch, Ed Mirvish, made Honest Ed’s a landmark in the city thanks to his sense of humour that pervaded the store and that glitzy sign

December 31 marked the last day the bright lights of landmark discount department store Honest Ed’s burned brightly over Bloor Street.

Gone are the crazy and often hilarious signs like “Only the floors are crooked!” that dotted the windows and the labyrinthine store, forever relegated to a slush pile of pop culture paraphernalia only to rear their off-colour heads at the occasional yard sale. 

Gone is the maze of shelves and tables and bins filled with everything from angora socks to zebra throw pillows — all priced to sell. And gone are the annual turkey giveaways and birthday parties that saw locals line up as far as the eye could see for a chance to snag a bird and a handshake from Ed Mirvish himself, who also happened to be a theatrical impresario that forever altered the stage landscape in our fair city. It’s kind of a big deal, this closure. 

Honest Ed’s, which Mirvish opened in 1948 as Honest Ed’s Bargain House, was as much a part of the city’s identity as many more noteworthy buildings. There are many local residents who have not been up the CN Tower, who have eschewed all art galleries and even the zoo, but dagnabbit, they’ve bought a six-pack of tube socks at Ed’s just for fun. Because that’s Toronto.

The tacky old shack at Bathurst and Bloor has been seen around the world in movies such as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and countless TV shows, and many a tourist would stroll the Annex just to witness that garish sign lit up by 23,000 bulbs, purposefully of course, just like a bona fide theatre on Broadway. In 2007, Ed Mirvish passed away, and those lights lost a little bit of their glimmer. By 2013, Ed’s son David Mirvish decided to sell the property to development company Westbank. And the end was near.

As another sleek new glass tower or four rise to take the place of Honest Ed’s, we say goodbye to another fond old friend. 

Another piece of our collective history lost to progress.

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