This is the first post in my Memories of Toronto’s Honest Ed’s series in honour of the last days of the bargain store’s life which will close on December 31, 2016.
The first time I saw Honest Ed’s we had just moved to Toronto. I was 16 & excited about my future life in “the city.” I loved the loudness of the building. The flashing lights, the red, yellow & orange colour scheme. It was a beacon at the intersection of Bathurst & Bloor, & I really wanted to live near it.
The first time I went to Honest Ed’s was in University. My friend & I wanted to see what the bargain store offered.
Coming from the suburbs where everything was shiny & new, Honest Ed’s less than new & shiny interior seemed different to us. But, the deals were too good to pass up & in time I grew to love the less-than-perfect look of Honest Ed’s.
The upcoming closure of the iconic bargain store has made me sentimental. As I went through the photos & associated memories that I have accumulated of the landmark store, I realized that Honest Ed’s was a key fixture in my life. It was always there, through the good & the bad, & it always reminded me that I was lucky to be living in Toronto.
Ed Mirvish was man who created his wealth from nothing & gave back to the city. Honest Ed’s was created to be an accessible bargain store for downtowners. He gave out turkey’s at Christmas. He also gave theatre & music to the city by creating Mirvish Theatre’s. I can’t look at Honest Ed’s without thinking of this legacy.
In the last few years the store has become a daily fixture in my life & the community I lived in. An ever constant reminder of the less-than-perfect & kitschy side of Toronto. The side that makes this city interesting. The side of the city I love.
Summer days, summer nights. Rainy afternoons writing in coffee shops. Wintery afternoons watching the Santa Clause parade. Honest Ed’s has been an ever-present backdrop in the last 4 year of my life.
I remember one summer evening, when something was happening in the city .. fireworks for the PanAm games maybe? A group of people had climbed onto the Honest Ed’s building to take in the view. Not safe & legal, but no one cared because .. well it’s the Annex. It’s Honest Ed’s. Who hasn’t wanted to climb on top of that building?
Last week I went to Honest Ed’s for the last time. While still the same, signs of the upcoming closure are evident. There is less stock then normal. Posters & advertising signs have been removed from the walls as people buy them to hang in their homes, offices & local coffee shops.
But, even in its last days Honest Ed’s is still a place where the community goes to get their daily needs meet at an affordable price. I cannot imagine the city without the blinking lights of Honest Ed’s.
Stay tuned for part 2 of my Memories of Honest Ed photo series.