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Fashion & Style

Honest Ed's to auction off thousands of old signs

Posted by Aubrey Jax / March 6, 2014

honest eds auctionFor some, the quirky red signage of Honest Ed's is more or less the store's only appeal (besides killer deals on stuff that may or may not last more than six months) and this Monday you'll have a chance to grab some for yourself, as the closure of the iconic department store looms. Imagine the increased cool factor unmistakable hand written fonts, inappropriate square quotes, and bad puns could bring to your home -- and your love life, if your type happens to be "nostalgic Torontonian."

Hand painted show card signs will be auctioned for "50 cents and up" (the bargains never end!) and there will be thousands to chose from. All proceeds will go to charity. From the press release:

"Honest Ed's has been using the method of show card writing since Honest Ed Mirvish founded the store in 1948. Show card writing is now considered a lost art. Each item sold will be stamped with a stamp of authenticity and signed by Ed's celebrity show card signwriters, or long time managers who will be in attendance."

To phrase it like Ed would have, the sale stands to offer "Toronto history" so accessible you'll think you're one of its most notorious criminals. What, not good? Sorry.

The sign sale takes place Monday, March 10th from 11am - 6pm at Honest Ed's (581 Bloor St. W).



Perry Como / March 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm
Please let this store die already. It's a disgusting eye sore
dan taco / March 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm
bye bye eyesore
John / March 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm
That's the idea, Perry. There's something to be said about the history and nostalgia of Honest Ed's, eye-sore or not. I wouldn't mind a keepsake to frame
p replying to a comment from Perry Como / March 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm
I disagree, I'd call it unique and maybe a little strange, but not an eyesore.
Queen west used to be full of fun and unique store fronts, now all bland mall stores.
That is an eyesore.
tammy / March 6, 2014 at 12:15 pm
I love honest ed's and will be sad to see it go. I remember many decades ago to buy my first dishes and coffee mugs there for my first ever apartment. I have had so many fabulous memories of moments there. I still go there. Their prices are way better than Dollarama for shampoos and stuff. I bought a boyfriend a fabulous pair of italian linen shirts with the embroidery down the front there for less than $10 each.
I will go to the sale.
NativeTorontonianAl replying to a comment from p / March 6, 2014 at 12:18 pm
Well said.
Erika / March 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm
Just to let you know, it is not an auction but rather a first come first serve sale of the signs.
Mary Louise Willard / March 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm
My husband wonders when those photographs of celebrity visitors might be up for sale to old customers like us
A small town girl, moving to Toronto in the seventies, I thought Honest Eds was what city shopping was all about. Fun is what it is. ml
Jeffrey Beaumont replying to a comment from Perry Como / March 6, 2014 at 12:54 pm
i know right? let's put something nice on that corner, something more modern. clean glass walls, bare exposed concrete, maybe something i could spend half a million dollars to live in. i'm not picky, it doesn't have to be more than a bachelor. i'm with you brother, let's make toronto a better place!

shut up you ass.
gary / March 6, 2014 at 12:59 pm
Honest Ed's is my favourite store in Toronto and it has more character than any Gap or H & M will ever have. I'm so sad that this quirky Toronto institution will be closing. I can't imagine Toronto without Honest Ed's.
NW / March 6, 2014 at 01:07 pm
Just to play devil's advocate, because I do think it's a really cool space that offers the Annex area a truly unique spectacle. But For everyone saying how they love it so much and can't imagine the area without it, I'm curious to know how often you actually shopped there and actually provided a means for it to maintain itself. Just because a building is cool and beautiful looking, doesn't mean it doesn't cost anything to maintain.
Mike / March 6, 2014 at 01:41 pm
Last week, I was sitting at the Green Beanery having a coffee while staring out at Honest Ed's. I will miss it when it's gone, but that's life. And I echo NW's comments about how many ppl actually shop there? My guess is pretty much none. I feel this is the same as when Sam The Record Man on Yonge closed down.
missedthebus replying to a comment from NW / March 6, 2014 at 02:32 pm
Actually, NW, I both love Honest Ed's and hate the thought of losing it, but I ALSO shop there regularly! And by regularly, I mean about once a week. I choose to go there for basics over any franchise store, not just because it's cheap, but because it's also an experience. I'll be one of the people lining up on Monday to buy a sign.
colin / March 6, 2014 at 02:35 pm
where is the sale? none of the links say the site of sale. is it at the store or a different location?
GRBY / March 6, 2014 at 02:47 pm
David Mirvish is a true piece of sh!t for ruining his fathers legacy. He's ripping down the Princess of Wales theatre just to make a buck, and now the historical Honest Eds. He should've just turned this space into a little independent mini mall and preserved the character of this beloved Toronto landmark.

I understand that your typical uptight, square, boring, bland, Starbucks, Indigo, Gap loving Toronto yuppie type may hate the aesthetics of the building, but many of us love it. It's quirky, fun and truly unique.
Aubrey replying to a comment from colin / March 6, 2014 at 03:26 pm
It's at Honest Ed's
Lisa / March 6, 2014 at 03:48 pm
This article needs a shout-out to the artist behind these signs! The wonderful Dougie Kerr!
Sari / March 6, 2014 at 04:50 pm
Do you people not understand the magnitude of this establishment. A man not unlike anyone of us started a business with next to nothing & made it into the best shopping experience Toronto has ever had & now some person is going to tear it down to make Toronto even more of a concrete jungle than it already is. And to you Perry Como, I'd keep a look out for people who don't respond well to your comments of it being an "eyesore", if anything else I would say you are the "largest eyesore" Toronto has ever had.
b. craftie / March 6, 2014 at 05:34 pm
The Mirvish decision was to let Honest Ed's deteriorate. Have you seen how many of those wonderful outdoor light bulbs are out? They used to be replaced regularly. Now that sign just looks tawdry.
The vibe was always hodge-podge, messy but not dirty. I bet their food section never got a "yellow" health inspection card before a couple of months ago.
And the decision to cordon off sections makes it seem closed already [although one of those sections is where Sonic Boom is now, so kudos to that; and off topic, but how sad is it that Sonic Boom will have to move all their stuff again, in such a short time ! ]
I've been going to Honest Ed's for decades. It's a landmark, a beacon, a real trip.
I still shop there: for kitchy kids' toys, for shoe laces, for Passover macaroons [they have, or at least up to last year they had, an awesome selection!], for fleece blankets, for TTC tokens and toothbrushes ... for silly things and all sorts of things.
And what a great place to make a music video.

Matt replying to a comment from Perry Como / March 6, 2014 at 05:54 pm
So i guess you are happy that yet another bland condo is going up... Toronto at it's blandest and unoriginal as it strips away anything unique about it
JF / March 6, 2014 at 05:58 pm
Hello, Ed's lover here--just want to pipe in and say that my boyfriend and I also still shop at Ed's on a weekly basis. I wouldn't buy anything too perishable there (like meat or cheese... ugh), but when it comes to cleaning supplies, cheap housewares, etc, you really can't beat the selection and prices at Ed's. We are in serious mourning. :(
Rama replying to a comment from Jeffrey Beaumont / March 6, 2014 at 07:11 pm
amen b.
Broadway Ed replying to a comment from b. craftie / March 6, 2014 at 07:12 pm
Honest Ed's is one of the last original kitschy ladmarks that so many people identify immediately with Toronto. It truly is unique to this city. That Ed's son choses to wipe out instantly so much history - because that is exactly what he is doing by tearing down what made Mirvish Village and the area around Bathurst & Bloor so quirky and interesting for decades, in order to bestow upon the citizenry yet another example of total bland empty soulless slabs in the sky and wind tunnels in the name of 'less is more' and costs more for those looking to flaunt their wealth.This city is taking itself waaaay too seriously now...oh forgot we are desperate to be world class. Sure.
Lola / March 6, 2014 at 07:20 pm
An eyesore? Are you kidding? It's as iconic as the CN Tower. Shame on you.

This city is so sad, just loves to tear down heritage buildings and icons (Sam The Record Man), and build new ugly buildings. Have some heart Toronto. You're getting oh so boring and lame.

Bingo Mum replying to a comment from GRBY / March 6, 2014 at 07:28 pm
Good idea GRBY . A mini mall devoted to all things vintage and pre tech with milk bars, pancake houses, Diners and a small bowling alley. Endless ideas to bring people out to enjoy something unique and part of the history while having fun. A really unique destination in Toronto for a change. Is there only one box these developers are ticking right now. 90 storey glass condo with the 4 standard retail offerings at ground level. Time to get the hell out of dodge.
A.A / March 6, 2014 at 07:32 pm
I so agree I was a regular shopper at Sam the Record Man used to love all the stuff and selection they had in there and now Ryerson who promised to put back up their records is refusing to do that and now Honest Ed's is starting to follow in their footsteps while I live at Bathurst and Finch I do every once in a while try to make that trip down to Bathurst and Bloor simply to visit Honest Ed's and when it is gone I am not really sure why I will bother making the trip there just to see another ugly condo that will go up in its place. People have a heart lets petition the city to at least claim it a heritage building so that David Mirvish can not completely get rid of it.
Rhinestone gal replying to a comment from Perry Como / March 6, 2014 at 07:41 pm
Don't worry Perry Como, it'll be soon joining you - underneath a pile of rubble or are you still being wheeled out to croak a song once a year. Honest Ed meant a lot to the survival of new immigrants and young people renting apartments for decades in Toronto. Can't say the same for you Perry Como.
Pancake Pearl replying to a comment from A.A / March 6, 2014 at 07:55 pm
Sounds like a plan A.A. We need to get this Mirvish son to listen up to the people who actually live and work here. The steam rollering over of Toronto is taking place overnight. The result is looking uglier by the minute. People WAKE UP, your city is losing a lot of the very stuff that makes it the reason to visit.We need to have variety not the same damn massive buildings wall to wall. What Ed had was pizzaz and showmanship and a sense of humour. That is why he created something unique in this city. Giving free Turkleys away at thanksgiving and watches at Christmas was brilliant showmanship and marketing - but people loved it. Kitsch done right is brilliant. All we see now on offer is something for the elite in place. Sad times .
Perry Como replying to a comment from Rhinestone gal / March 6, 2014 at 08:20 pm
Life goes on. If you think a discount store has any cultural value you should move next door to a wal mart.
Abe replying to a comment from Perry Como / March 6, 2014 at 08:59 pm
Perry's right, Ed's was basically a Wal Mart. He sounds really smart and like he shouldn't go live in a different city.
Kris / March 6, 2014 at 09:00 pm
I used to shop there all the time when I lived close enough. The area was so vibrant, but now with the condo across the street, it's just going to hell.

We don't need to continue building condos, but it's apparent that David Mirvish is greedy and selling this prime piece of land is making him quite a substantial amount of money.

He doesn't care about continuing on his father's legacy. It's too bad that Ed didn't leave in his will that the store could not be sold.

Another historical landmark bites the dust and that is a shame.
Raoul replying to a comment from Perry Como / March 6, 2014 at 09:40 pm
May you shop at The Galleria for the rest of your earthly life. And in Hell, too. 'Cause the line's blurry.
Raoul replying to a comment from dan taco / March 6, 2014 at 09:41 pm
May you wander around aimlessly in the browned-out flourescents at The Galleria for the rest of your earthly life. And in Hell, too. 'Cause that line's blurry.
Aubrey replying to a comment from Raoul / March 6, 2014 at 10:30 pm
Hey leave Galleria outta this!
Wasley / March 7, 2014 at 02:27 am
In the very early 80s, I bought a pair of Desert Boots here for $17. They were were my favorite shoes. I wore them at my high school outside Toronto. No one had desert boots. I felt like the desert boot king. Next year, it was like a light had switched on because all the cool kids had desert boots. I did too, but I was no longer the king. Just a guy with a pair of crappy, $50 desert boots I bought at a mall. I'll never forget that first pair. Best shoes by far I've ever purchased.
JKD / March 7, 2014 at 03:59 am
"Eyesore" LOLOLOL ... you n00b yuppie lightweights.
Victor Fraser / March 7, 2014 at 08:52 am
I worked there as my first sign Painting job.
Very very kewl to see these up. Honest :)
Perry Como replying to a comment from Sari / March 7, 2014 at 11:51 am
are you serious about it being Toronto's best shopping experience?
Perry Como replying to a comment from Sari / March 7, 2014 at 11:57 am
go buy your head and shoulders at awl mart. leave me alone
Amie / March 7, 2014 at 08:34 pm
All you yuppies ugh make me sick. Honest ED's will be missed by true Torontonian's. I know I miss a lot of the old little cool stores that use to dot the city. Now it's trying to hard to be another NY and that is crap. I miss what Toronto use to be now I never go downtown cuz it's ugly and yuppie
JR / March 9, 2014 at 01:10 pm
Honest Ed's epitomized what Toronto was and is to some extent today- working class immigrant families trying to make a good life for their families. Honest Ed's was the working man's place- it is what made "Canada" a place to aspire to live in- where anything was possible, attainable. It is authentically Canadian. Sadly, this is a bygone era, the next generation(s) of working class immigrants have reaped the success and hard work of prior generations and have long forgotten the era of a hard bargain, value, and what a penny was truly worth.
Perry Como replying to a comment from Amie / March 9, 2014 at 09:59 pm
Go back to Scarborough. Never come to Toronto again.
Sarah / March 11, 2014 at 11:01 pm
For the Love of Ed: Lessons Learnt in an 8 hour line:
juli replying to a comment from Sarah / March 14, 2014 at 12:21 pm
Hey Sarah, loved your blog: looking at the photos I was near you in the line & certainly remember the funkily-dressed woman with the pink camera & I overheard you getting the lazy Susan sign. I loved how many young people were there (I'm middleaged & assumed it would be nostalgic oldies!) Juli
dan taco replying to a comment from Raoul / March 15, 2014 at 02:33 pm
Sarah replying to a comment from juli / May 5, 2014 at 02:58 pm
Thanks Juli! I didn't see this till now. Love that you recognized me through my story. Unfortunately my hosting account deleted my blog and I lost the story! I guess there's no chance you saved or printed it was there? Long shot, but thought it was worth a try. Sad and desperate :(
juli / May 5, 2014 at 09:29 pm
SaraH, oh, so sorry to hear that your blog was deleted: don't think I printed the Ed's story, or otherwise saved it, but I'll DOUBLE check...
​willard rib for sale / June 30, 2014 at 02:47 am
have you been set on the idea currently being Toronto's greatest searching experience?

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Loxford / October 5, 2014 at 09:35 pm
Have you ever seen people stop to take a photo of a shoppers drug mart or condo building as a memorable keepsake of their trip to Toronto? Honest Eds bring gs some character and variety to one of my favourite areas of the city.
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