Honest Ed's ~ An End of an Era
One of the greatest assets to the great city of Toronto Canada was Ed Mirvish and his wonderful bargain house ~ Honest Ed’s!
It is with sadness that after some 60 years in business the store and surrounding area known lovingly as Mirvish Village is closing its doors the last and final time on December 31/16 and will be converted into high end condos. Personally I think Honest Ed's should have been deemed an historical site and possibly turned into a museum to commemorate Ed Mirvish for his kindness, generosity and his philanthropy. If anything Honest Ed's was a part of the fabric of our city spanning over 6 decades. As the city grew and changed; Honest Ed's remained the same. My immigrant parents shopped there religiously and took us often to walk the store of three levels and a connecting tunnel to the other attached building. At times maneuvering through the store was difficult through the sea of shoppers and the daily specials that at times were given away for pennies on the dollar. It was an iconic store, never renovated and essentially a capsule in time with its original wooden bins what seemed stacked a mile high from clothing, food, house wares and so much more. You could even find the most unique products like the famous hand painted Elvis Presley statues.
What struck me most as a child where the numerous photos of famous celebrities lining the walls in the stairwells; as a child I loved the movies from the 40s, 50s and 60s and was impressed to find pictures of stars like Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis and so many many more. All the photos were autographed to this beloved icon ~ Ed Mirvish and in some small way you could feel such a strong presence of all the greats in the stairwells. For me it was a part of my childhood, a place to reminisce and remember the good old days when life was simple and easy.
Honest Ed's was a place where thousands would line up on free turkey day where they'd give out tens of thousands of pounds of turkey away at Christmas time. I remember 5 cent bags of potato days or bags of sugar day. It was evident that the entire city loved Ed Mirvish and he loved them back equally, how could you not love a man who loved people and always had an amazing happy grin on his face. He turned the downtown core into a circus, literally when he started celebrating his birthday right in the heart of Mirvish Village where he had free food, entertainment and rides for little children.
If you're familiar with the downtown core in Toronto, you just could not simply drive by the store filling an entire city block; it was larger than life with the thousands of lights on the building and his eye catching store front window displays with hand painted price tags. The store illuminated so brightly that you could probably see it from space.
We visited Honest Ed's one last time the other day and my emotions took the best of me as I walked the store and felt tears welling up inside of me. I wanted to just stop and burst out crying, it felt like a part of my childhood was being taken from me. The bins were almost empty, the famous pictures I so loved to look at where all taken down, there was so little left to buy but we picked up a few trinkets to remember the man and his legacy to our great city. He loved the theatre owing 4 beautiful theatres in the heart of our theatre district; we were able to get our hands on a few of the marquis banners advertising past performances. It was a bitter sweet experience to see his carnival mirrors and all the antiques left remaining up for sale; even those huge spinning balls that graced the store front back in the day that I just loved to stare up at as they turned.
What struck me most about our visit were all the people there clearly moved as much as we were, many hand driven for hours for their last visit and to say good bye! Many shoppers that we spoke with seemed to be on board with my opinion that this is just an injustice to a great man and a huge loss for our city. Those that were there wanted a piece of history just as we did, just a bit of something anything to remember what we're losing and what will be no more.
Thank you Ed Mirvish for the memories....