Honest Education, pt.2

Posted on February 1st, 2010 8 great comments. Room for one more!

…continued from previous part.

The reason that Honest Ed’s is kid-safe is because of all the nooks and crannies that the little hellions can occupy themselves in. The place is chock-a-block with weird props from all the retired Mirvish shows, plus a bunch of other stuff that Ed collected over the years. Most of it just lying around. At one moment you’re staring into a fun-house mirror, the next you’re enjoying the thrilling rape of Persephone by Hades (bringing us joyous winter every year). Right next to the dirt-cheap sweat pants.

rape of persephone, statue, hades, demeter, pluto, shop, store, honest ed's, toronto, city, life

The valuable stuff is all cordoned off with lazily hung caution tape; basically a wishful suggestion. And if you wander around long enough, you get into parts of the store where even the yellow tape is absent. Maybe the stuff is for sale, but he price seems a bit steep for most of Honest Ed’s regulars.

19th century shrine, thai thailand, statues, carvings, honest ed's store, basement, toronto, city, life

I don’t want to give anyone any ideas but … c’mon! Isn’t this just asking to be robbed?! What kind of an effort would you have to make? Even if you wanted to play Mission Impossible, that ceiling wouldn’t really pose much of a challenge, would it? It would be a really uneventful mission, totally possible. You’d be sorry you bought all that fancy equipment; probably coulda just waltzed in off the street and strolled back out with a 19th century Thai shrine and a few reasonably-priced stainless steel pots.

Some of the stuff, yeah, I understand … owner’s name all over, so that wouldn’t pawn well:

frank sinatra, dean martin, singers, queen of england, ed mirvish, honest ed's store, shop, toronto, city, life

But that’s all beside the point. I believe I was originally on about epiphanies, and why I think Ed’s set them into motion. I think it started when I started to notice some of the really big names that Ed and his wife had shaken hands with (that’s the Queen of England in that little black-and-white), had dinner with, or had perform for them. Sometimes all three. Perhaps even took it a bit farther. Hey! Just speculating! No facts here! No facts!

It occurred to me that Ed achieved all of this through a whole bunch of little steps (plus hard work and yadda yadda). But the fact that Ed managed to keep up that cheesy showmanship throughout these years, that makes the place something special, if you ask me. (The lighting even changes from room to room — exciting!)

souvenirs, cooking equipment, shop, store, honest ed's, toronto, city, life

It’s kind of an extension of who Ed was. The fact that he bought up theatres and liked to put on shows, that seems perfectly natural to me. His choice of shows, also 100% true to Honest Ed’s heart, don’t you think? Currently, Mirvish Productions is putting on Rock of Ages (maybe stick “’n Roll” in there as a qualifier and the title is no more complicated than that), and Little House on the Prairie, The Musical (featuring Melissa Gilbert in typecast hell). Total Mirvish.

But that was Ed; he put it out there, he put it out there hard, and in the end he exploded all over. He wasn’t ashamed of his limitations – all he knew was that he was pretty good at getting people’s attention, so he rode that talent into history. I don’t know what else he tried to do with his life, but I’m glad he didn’t succeed.

And in the same way, I’m glad that Toronto, for one reason or another, hasn’t become a cookie-cutter copy of other major cities. Well, some sections try to be, but they feel artificial. Spots like Yonge-Dundas Square were manufactured, which makes them feel like they’re trying too hard, and judging by the tough economic times some of the surrounding businesses have had (before last year’s ongoing economic crisis began), that seems to be a shared sentiment. Not that the place won’t get some character in a decade or two, but it needs to see some history first.

But I don’t want to seem like I’m ignorant of the many problems that the city has. It’s just … I see them all in a completely different light after visiting Ed’s. Like, either they’re something to lament, to bemoan, or something to view as an opportunity, an advantage. I imagine Ed opted for the latter.

Continued in next part…

8 Comments on “ Honest Education, pt.2 ”

  • RE - Entrepod
    February 2nd, 2010 2:39 am

    Eds always offers a treasure at a good price. didn't they bring Daniel and the Technicolor Dream Coat starring That Osmond Brother a while ago ? that sold out the whole year. they seem like the real first family of Toronto Kitsch. btw did you check out the souvernir section with the postcard rack of antique postcards ? really neat.

    Read more from RE – Entrepod at: http://pod313.com/
  • Patrick
    February 2nd, 2010 9:35 pm

    Haha! Well, I dunno much about the Technicolor Dream Coat, BadGal, but it sounds right up Ed's alley. Glitz and schmaltz all over. And no, I didn't see the postcard rack. Guess I have something to do this weekend — thanks! ;)

  • stanya
    February 2nd, 2010 11:19 am

    Well Honest Ed was many years ago our store too, right after we emigrated from our old country and had no money.

    It was realy cheap to shop there and it helped us to start our lives in Canada. Haven't been there for years. But right now we are experiencing another "Cheap" company and "cordialy recommending". It is Bell Canada. We were their customers for decades. Never ever missed the payments. In last two years we signed a contract with them alowing us use features like internet,TV,visual call waiting, redial,directory and all this usual crap. We were using it one year, when another company came in picture with much better offer and so we switched to them, braking the contract with Bell. The Bell's people were upset and said that we have to pay penalty for that and so we agreed to pay four $45.-payments. 3 payments were paid in time and forth was 3 days later because we were on vacation but as soon as we came home the payment was done and we voluntarly added $ 2.-for another penalty for late payment as we know how accurate the company is. Two days after we got phone call from Collection agency urging us to pay to Bell $45.- or we'll be in trouble. The Bell company for sure has the guts. But we understand $45.- is big money and 3 days delay is realy great, for sure company barely could survive without those money, right? Isn't that comforting to be surounded with such a nice people who so strongly care about money?

    Read more from stanya at:
  • Patrick
    February 2nd, 2010 9:31 pm

    That's terrible, Stanya. I've had problems with my cell phone provider too … exactly the same thing by the sounds of it. In fact, my bill was turned over to collections a full week before it was sent to me (everything paid in full, I should add). On two separate occasions. I'm not sure if it's necessarily money or clerical mess-ups. But collection agencies, they're a beast of a different feather :)

  • Kato
    February 2nd, 2010 2:00 pm

    I really and truly love that place. I need to go and pay it a visit now.

    Thank you for all the pics. It really seems like NOTHING ever changes there! I love that!

    Read more from Kato at: http://www.pandorahsbox.blogspot.com
  • Patrick
    February 2nd, 2010 9:32 pm

    That's what I love about it too, Kato. I bet if you dig deep enough you'll find products from a decade ago. The place is a living museum.

  • Laura
    February 3rd, 2010 8:10 am

    I haven't been to Honest Eds since I was too young to remember it. You're tempting me to have a look. My brother moved down to Toronto for the winter I wonder if he has been there, he loves a bargain.

    Read more from Laura at: http://wordgrrls.com/
  • Patrick
    February 3rd, 2010 12:56 pm

    As you may have noticed by some of the comments, Laura, Honest Ed's hasn't really change a whole heck of a lot. So you could stay away for a few more years without really missing anything :) But your brother should *definitely* go — bargains are just the first reason for visiting.

What's on your mind?