Honest Ed's is a landmark discount store located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is named for its proprietor, Ed Mirvish, who opened the store in 1948 and oversaw its operations for almost sixty years, until his death in 2007.Location
Honest Ed's is prominently located on the corner of Bloor and Bathurst Streets, running the whole length of the block. The exterior is covered with huge red and yellow signs advertising the name of the store, lit up like a theatre marquee. The store sign uses 23,000 light bulbs. The store consists 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 is much more modest, with simple displays of low-priced merchandise, ranging from vacuum cleaners and winter coats to kitchenware, toys and grocery items. Much of the store's decor consists of posters and photos from old films and stage productions from Mirvish's theatres in Toronto and London, England, as well as of actors and musicians who performed in them (many of these inscribed to Ed Mirvish himself). Every piece of store signage is hand-painted. The outside facade is covered with humorous puns and slogans such as "Come in and get lost!" and "Only the floors are crooked!"History
Honest Ed's gained fame for its marketing stunts, including loss leader specials and free turkey giveaways before Christmas and Thanksgiving Day holidays. Mirvish is also famous in Toronto for the birthday parties he threw for himself from 1988 until his death, continued since then as anniversary parties for the store itself. At the street parties, there are free cakes, meals, hot dogs, candy, and giveaways. Crowds of Torontonians turn up with their children, and stand in long lines to receive these handouts. The happening is accompanied by live bands and balloons.Cultural impact
The store has appeared in popular culture products, being seen in several films and television shows shot in Toronto. For example, Honest Ed's was featured in the film The Long Kiss Goodnight.
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 that were lent by Torontonians, each associated with a personal story. 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." This synthesis of conceptual art and commercial space was well received and reviewed widely on a national and local level and in numerous blogs.
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".