I’ll begin this post describing a memory of something that occurred some time ago, that might sounds strange to have stayed with me so distinctly. I was walking westward on a street called King, when I passed a very dapperly dressed elderly gentleman, who tipped his hat at me as he passed. Ok, I guess it’s not that strange that I remember such an occurrence as it is pretty rare to (1) see a man dressed as finely as he was just walking along the street, and (2) have a hat tipped in my direction!
To put the scenario in context, I was walking by a fancy theatre at the time, and the man was the owner of the theatre, Ed Mirvish. He was a Toronto businessman, the person behind this magical store I am going to show you photos of today, called Honest Ed’s.
After establishing the store he bought and refurbished the theatre on King Street, along with several nearby restaurants. He is credited with being the person to revitalize the theatre scene in the city, and probably the reason the area known as our ‘entertainment district’ is located where it is.
Born in 1914, the son of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, Edwin came to Canada from the United Stages in 1923. Losing his father at the age of 15 he was left to support his family, so he dropped out of school to manage the small family grocery store. Evidently, the man simply didn’t stop, as at the time of his death at 92 years old in 2007, he had accomplished a wide variety of achievements and garnered much respect in the city, where ‘Ed Mirvish Day’ is celebrated every August 12th.
A visit to his flagship store, located at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor, and opened in 1948, is an experience one never forgets. The place is a combination of amusement park, museum and retail. I’m pretty certain that every item of stock that ever entered the store in the 64 years and counting of it’s existence is still there unless it was purchased along the way. Spanning two multi-storied buildings connected by a passage way, it takes forever to see it all.
The major premise of the store is that prices are kept very low, and unavoidably the quality of some of the merchandise reflects the low price-tag, however I can attest to the fact that there are some very decent bargains to be found at Ed’s, namely kitchenware items (including Pyrex). In fact, we use a covered enamel pot purchased there daily as our indoor compost reservoir! I like it because it was unused-vintage and something I would never have found anywhere else.
The walls of the place are plastered with theatre posters from the shows that ran in Ed’s theatres, autographed photographs of many celebrities (that’s a picture of Engelbert Humperdinck near the stairs!), and many curiosities throughout. I definitely recall seeing that huge cuckoo clock hanging in the lobby of one of the restaurants on King Street.
And by chance, while I was there I came upon a little room set up as a gallery of the unique hand-drawn posters that have always been used in the store. This was one of several art installments throughout the store, curated by Mona Filip and presented by the Koffler Gallery.
On my visit, not wanting to raise suspicion by just walking around taking pictures and looking at stuff, I bought a (really) cute black and white polka-dotted belt ($4.99) and 4 cotton dish-clothes with nice patterns on them ($.79 each).
But the real take-away from my trip to Honest Ed’s were the pictures I took and the opportunity to share this remarkable, interesting and fun place with you!
I took a lot of pictures, so if you’re interested in seeing more, I have arranged them in an image slider below. (If you would like to stop the slider and manually flip through the series of photos, just click on gray dots along the bottom.)
Thanks very much for dropping over. I hope your Monday is a good one.