Honest Ed's

Last updated
Honest Ed's
Private
Industry Discount retail
FateLost foothold to online retailers
Founded1948
Founder Ed Mirvish
DefunctDecember 31, 2016
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Key people
David Mirvish
Products Department store
Website http://www.mirvish.com/honest-eds

Honest Ed's was a landmark discount store in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was named for its proprietor, Ed Mirvish, who opened the store in 1948 and oversaw its operations for almost 60 years until his death in 2007. The store continued to operate until it permanently closed on December 31, 2016.

Toronto Provincial capital city in Ontario, Canada

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada's most populous CMA. Toronto is the anchor of an urban agglomeration, known as the Golden Horseshoe in Southern Ontario, located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A global city, Toronto is a centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Ontario Province of Canada

Ontario is one of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada and is located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province accounting for 38.3 percent of the country's population, and is the second-largest province in total area. Ontario is fourth-largest jurisdiction in total area when the territories of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included. It is home to the nation's capital city, Ottawa, and the nation's most populous city, Toronto, which is also Ontario's provincial capital.

Ed Mirvish Canadian businessman

Edwin "Honest Ed" Mirvish, was an American-Canadian businessman, philanthropist and theatrical impresario who lived in Toronto, Ontario. He is known for his flagship business, Honest Ed's, a landmark discount store in downtown Toronto, and as a patron of the arts, instrumental in revitalizing the theatre scene in Toronto.

Contents

Location

Honest Ed's was located at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst Streets, extended the full length of the block west to Markham Street. The exterior was covered with huge red and yellow signs advertising the store's name, lit up like a theatre marquee. The store sign used 23,000 light bulbs. [1] The outside facade was covered with puns and slogans such as "Come in and get lost!" and "Only the floors are crooked!"

Bloor Street major thoroughfare in Toronto

Bloor Street is a major east–west residential and commercial thoroughfare in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Bloor Street runs from the Prince Edward Viaduct, which spans the Don River Valley, westward into Mississauga where it ends at Central Parkway. East of the viaduct, Danforth Avenue continues along the same right-of-way. The street, approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) long, contains a significant cross-sample of Toronto's ethnic communities. It is also home to Toronto's famous shopping street, the Mink Mile.

The store consisted of two buildings connected by a walkway that links up the west building on Markham Street and the east building on Bathurst Street. The interior was modest, with simple displays of low-priced merchandise from vacuum cleaners and winter coats to kitchenware, toys and grocery items. Much of the store's decor consisted of posters and photos from old films and stage productions from Mirvish's theatres in Toronto and London, England, and of actors and musicians who performed in them (many inscribed to Ed Mirvish). Every piece of store signage was hand-painted.

Markham Street is a north-south residential street located in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, one block west of Bathurst Street. Its northern end starts in the Seaton Village neighbourhood and it passes through Mirvish Village, The Annex, Palmerston–Little Italy, Trinity–Bellwoods and ends at West Queen Street West at its south end.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

The new owners have demolished the structure as of March 2018 and intend to redevelop the 1.8 hectares (4.4 acres) of land; which also includes Mirvish Village and a stretch of retail buildings south of the Honest Ed building on Bathurst Street running down to Lennox Street, which were rented out by the Mirvishes to local businesses. [2]

History

Ed and Anne Mirvish opened "The Sport's Bar", a women's clothing store, near Bloor and Bathurst Streets in 1943 [3] renting a property that was five metres wide. The store proved popular. While explaining his decision to invest $3.2 in the financial technology company, FundThrough (an online invoice factoring platform), David Mirvish, son of Ed and Anne Mirvish, cited that invoice factoring was critical to the success of "The Sport's Bar". [4] [5] Ed and Anne would let their customers pay for dresses over time (as they would not have been able to purchase them otherwise - given that the store opened as Toronto was coming out of the Great Depression) and factored these receivables in the interim. [4] By doing this, they acquired the working capital needed to buy more inventory, which in turn enabled them to grow and expand their business. [4] In 1946, the Mirvishes expanded after acquiring several buildings along Bloor, renaming the store "Anne & Eddie's". After a further expansion, Mirvish re-established the store as "Honest Ed's Bargain House" in 1948, adding general household goods to the inventory. [6] [7] In 1952, the Mirvishes acquired their first property on Markham Street, behind the store and eventually acquired several more homes on the street with the intent of building a parking lot. Instead, this evolved into the Mirvish Village neighbourhood in the 1960s after the city turned down the store's application to raze the buildings and Anne Mirvish persuaded her husband to rent the houses out to artists. In 1958, "Honest Ed's" expanded west to Markham Street to encompass 6,000 square feet and in 1984, the Honest Ed's annex building was completed expanding the store east to Bathurst Street. [6]

Financial technology

Financial technology, often shortened to FinTech or fintech, is the new technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services. It is an emerging industry that uses technology to improve activities in finance. The use of smartphones for mobile banking, investing services and cryptocurrency are examples of technologies aiming to make financial services more accessible to the general public. Financial technology companies consist of both startups and established financial institutions and technology companies trying to replace or enhance the usage of financial services provided by existing financial companies. Many existing financial institutions are implementing Fintech solutions and technologies in order to improve and develop their services, as well as gaining an improved competitive stance.

Factoring (finance) financial transaction and a type of debtor finance in which a business sells its accounts receivable (i.e., invoices) to a third party (called a factor) at a discount

Factoring is a financial transaction and a type of debtor finance in which a business sells its accounts receivable to a third party at a discount. A business will sometimes factor its receivable assets to meet its present and immediate cash needs. Forfaiting is a factoring arrangement used in international trade finance by exporters who wish to sell their receivables to a forfaiter. Factoring is commonly referred to as accounts receivable factoring, invoice factoring, and sometimes accounts receivable financing. Accounts receivable financing is a term more accurately used to describe a form of asset based lending against accounts receivable. The Commercial Finance Association is the leading trade association of the asset-based lending and factoring industries.

David Mirvish, is a Canadian art collector, art dealer, theatre producer, real estate developer and son of the late Toronto discount department store owner "Honest" Ed Mirvish and artist Anne Lazar Macklin.

The main building was at 581 Bloor Street West and the annex at 760 Bloor Street West with the two connected by a walkway crossing Honest Ed Alley.

Honest Ed's gained fame for its marketing stunts, including loss leader specials. By 1968 the store was grossing $14 million annually. [8] Mirvish's annual turkey giveaway before Christmas always received media attention; this annual event continued even after his death, until the Christmas season of 2015. [9] Mirvish also threw birthday parties for himself from 1988 until his death, continued since then as anniversary parties for the store itself. At the street parties, there were free cakes, meals, hot dogs, candy, and giveaways. Crowds of Torontonians turned up with their children, and stood in long lines to receive these handouts. The event was accompanied by live bands and balloons. [10]

A loss leader is a pricing strategy where a product is sold at a price below its market cost to stimulate other sales of more profitable goods or services. With this sales promotion/marketing strategy, a "leader" is used as a related term and can mean any popular article, i.e., sold at a normal price.

Sale of property, closure, and redevelopment

On 16 July 2013, it was announced the site of Honest Ed's was for sale for $100 million, and the store was likely to be closed and replaced with a retail and residential building. [11] [12]

Until 1990, the store's business had grown, but then started to decline about four years before Walmart entered Canada in 1994. Besides big-box stores, other impacts on Honest Ed's business were internet shopping, the gentrification of downtown and the dispersion of the working and immigrant class to the inner suburbs of Toronto. Although the store never had a loss, its staff dwindled from 400 to 75 over the years. [13]

Another factor in the store's closure was David Mirvish did not have his father's enthusiasm for the store, preferring the family theatre business. David Mirvish said: Retail "wasn’t where my heart was. In the end, I would have had to decide that’s where we should have put our resources and grow. And I had other opportunities in fields I understood better." [13]

The site's redevelopment is expected to affect a number of businesses that lease space within the Honest Ed's building, and a number of standalone businesses on Bathurst Street adjoining the Honest Ed's building running south to Lennox, south of Honest Ed's, and in Mirvish Village which are under the same property ownership. The property's sale to Vancouver-based Westbank Properties, a luxury developer of hotels, residences and office space, was announced in October 2013, but David Mirvish announced he would rent the property from Westbank for two to three years, during which time Honest Ed's and the Mirvish Village businesses would continue to operate until the developer decided what to do with the 1.8 hectare parcel of land. [14]

On September 13, 2014, The Globe & Mail reported the formation of a redevelopment team for the property that includes the design lead Gregory Henriquez of Vancouver's Henriquez Partners Architects, supported by ERA Architects, Janet Rosenberg + Studio, Reshape Strategies, and Urban Strategies Inc. [15] The redeveloped property is to be subdivided into zones with residential rental towers, retail storefronts, new pedestrian lanes, and a woonerf on Markham Street. According to Urban Toronto, the iconic Honest Ed's sign will not be part of the site redevelopment. [15] The proposed redevelopment includes 1,000 rental apartments, a permanent public market; and retail space largely divided into small units that mimic the scale of storefronts on Bloor Street. [2]

The Honest Ed's retail store closed on December 31, 2016 and the remaining stores in Mirvish Village (Markham Street) and on properties formerly owned by Mirivish on Bathurst Street south of Honest Ed's closed by January 31, 2017. [16]

The iconic Honest Ed's sign was dismantled and removed from the building on May 23, 2017 and is to be restored and installed above the Victoria Street entrance of the Ed Mirvish Theatre. [17]

The site is now occupied by the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre.

Cultural impact

Sale items at Honest Ed's WikiMoosetoysS.jpg
Sale items at Honest Ed's

The store has appeared in several films and television shows shot in Toronto. For example, Honest Ed's was featured in the film The Long Kiss Goodnight , and can be seen in several background scenes in the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World when Scott and his friends are dining at Pizza Pizza across the street from the store.

One of the fight sequences in the third volume of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim comic book series takes place at Honest Ed's, with the characters suffering sensory overload due to the incredible amounts of merchandise. The store implodes after Scott's rival Todd breaks an agreement not to use his psychic powers.

From February to March 2009, the store hosted "Honest Threads", an interactive artwork by installation artist Iris Häussler, curated by Mona Filip of the Koffler Centre of the Arts. Häussler installed a boutique of clothes lent by Torontonians, each associated with a personal story. [18] Visitors were able to borrow the garments for a few days and wear them, experiencing both literally and psychologically what it is like to "walk in someone else’s shoes." [18] This synthesis of conceptual art and commercial space was well received and reviewed widely on a national [19] [ full citation needed ] and local level [20] and in numerous blogs. In November 2013, the Koffler Centre of the Arts produced 'Honesty', a site-specific play by playwright/director Jordan Tannahill in which performer Virgilia Griffith embodied seven real employees of the store. [21]

Honest Ed's was referenced by the character Zazu in the Toronto stage production of The Lion King, where a brightly coloured, patterned stage curtain is described by the character as "a shower curtain from Honest Ed's".

Honest Ed's was featured as the setting for the music video "Wide Open" by Toronto singer Jenny Mayhem. In the video Jenny plays a daydreaming Honest Ed's employee, who fantasizes about being a star. The video was directed by Ace Billet and was shot in Honest Ed's and in other locations around Mirvish Village.

Honest Ed's is featured prominently in an episode of the Viceland series Nirvanna the Band the Show, where the main characters Matt and Jay look for a Christmas tree to decorate their Christmas float with.

Tributes

Tribute to Honest Ed's at Bathurst subway station. Honest Ed's tribute at Bathurst Station.jpg
Tribute to Honest Ed's at Bathurst subway station.

Ed and Anne Mirvish Parkette, within the streetcar loop at Bathurst subway station, has a plaque erected in 2008 to honour the founders of Honest Ed's mentioning the two popular annual store events: Ed's birthday party and the turkey giveaway. [22]

On November 1, 2016, the Toronto Transit Commission created a temporary display at Bathurst Station as a tribute to Honest Ed's. The display included hand-painted signs in the Honest Ed style including the corny puns. At the concourse level, there were photos and store memorabilia. On the subway platform walls there were signs providing facts about Honest Ed’s. The commemorative display was removed after the final closing of Honest Ed's on December 31, 2016. [23]

The TTC later installed a permanent tribute to Honest Ed's on the concourse level of Bathurst Station consisting of five vertical panels with images memorabilia associated with the former department store. [24] [25]

A portion of the iconic Honest Ed's sign is to be restored and moved to the Ed Mirvish Theatre at Yonge and Dundas. [26]

A four day long goodbye party was held in the building from February 22 to 27, 2017 as a fundraiser for the Centre for Social Innovation. The celebrations included dance performances, music, installations, film, live sign painting by the original Honest Ed’s sign painter, Douglas Kerr, speakers and panel discussions on the cultural and social signifiance of Honest Ed's, and an art maze. [27] [28]

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References

  1. City TV News "Think You Know Mirvish? Some Honest Ed Facts That May Surprise You" 11 July 2007 (Accessed 15 September 2007)
  2. 1 2 "Redevelopment of Honest Ed's in Toronto holds several surprises" . Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  3. Simcoe, Luke (30 December 2016). "A timeline of Honest Ed's, a Toronto landmark since 1943". Toronto Star. Toronto. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  4. 1 2 3 "Toronto-based startup FundThrough lands millions in funding, eyes U.S. expansion | The Star". thestar.com. Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  5. "Arts impresario David Mirvish jumps into fintech with investment in small-business lender FundThrough" . Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  6. 1 2 "A timeline of Honest Ed's, a Toronto landmark since 1943 - Toronto Star" . Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-11. Retrieved 2014-08-05.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. "David Mirvish looks back at all those Honest Ed’s memories". Toronto Star, Francine Kopun, Dec. 10, 2016
  9. Goffin, Peter. "Last call for Honest Ed's annual turkey giveaway". Toronto Star. Toronto. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  10. Barbara Myrvold (28 December 2017). "Farewell to Honest Ed's, 1948 to 2016". Toronto Public Library. Toronto Public Library. Retrieved 1 January 2017. free hot dogs, cake and candy at the annual public birthday parties
  11. John Allemang, "Toronto's Honest Ed's gets tossed into the bargain bin of history", The Globe and Mail , 16 July 2013.
  12. Mariana Ionova (July 21, 2013). "Honest Ed's marks 65th year with bargains and nostalgia". Toronto Star .
  13. 1 2 Eric Andrew-Gee (December 30, 2016). "Honest Ed's (1948-2016)". The Globe and Mail . Retrieved 2017-01-03.
  14. "Honest Ed's site sold to Vancouver developer". Toronto Star. October 27, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  15. 1 2 "Westbank Proposes Fully Rethought Mirvish Village Redevelopment". Urban Toronto, March 4, 2015 by Craig White
  16. Beeston, Laura (December 30, 2016). "Honest Ed's last day is Saturday — 'We just came to say goodbye'". Toronto Star. Toronto. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  17. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/05/23/honest-eds-sign-to-get-a-new-home-over-mirvish-theatre.html
  18. 1 2 Koffler Gallery page on the "Honest Threads" project Archived 2009-02-14 at the Wayback Machine , accessed 12 April 2009
  19. The National Post: Second Hand stories [ permanent dead link ], 24 January 2009
  20. The Torontoist: Honest Ed Was No Artist, but He Sure Can Draw a Crowd, 10 March 2009
  21. Koffler Centre of the Art's Programs & Events Page - Honest, accessed 15 January 2014
  22. "Ed and Anne Mirvish Parkette". TorontoHistory.Org. Retrieved 2017-01-04.
  23. "TTC's Bathurst Station pays tribute to Honest Ed's". Toronto Transit Commission. November 1, 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-04.
  24. Brad Ross (TTC) (November 1, 2016). "TTC honours Honest Ed's with iconic sign installation at Bathurst Station". CityNews & Twitter . Retrieved 2017-02-10. [From a tweet:] Brad Ross @bradTTC: For all those asking about making this tribute permanent, an installation at Bathurst Stn. is being developed! #HonestEds #TTC
  25. "Honest Ed tribute at Bathurst Station". February 6, 2017. [Question to AskTTC@ttc.ca:] After the removal of the temporary display in tribute to Honest Ed's at Bathurst Station, I noticed that five panels from the tribute are still displayed on the mezzanine level in a passage leading to the streetcar/bus platforms. Are these five panels now a permanent tribute to Honest Ed's? [Answer from AskTTC@ttc.ca:] Yes, they are a permanent tribute. Thanks for asking.Missing or empty |url= (help)
  26. Wilson, Codi (8 February 2017). "Honest Ed's sign will be moved to Ed Mirvish Theatre". CTV News.
  27. "Here's how Toronto said farewell to Honest Ed's - Toronto Star" . Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  28. "Farewell bash at Honest Ed's a party for everyone - Toronto Star" . Retrieved 3 April 2017.

Coordinates: 43°39′53.5″N79°24′41.2″W / 43.664861°N 79.411444°W / 43.664861; -79.411444