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Honest Ed's marks 65th year with bargains and nostalgia

Posted by Oped 1347 days ago Toronto Star| honest eds marks th year bargains nostalgia All
http://www.thestar.com — It was part celebration and part bittersweet nostalgia for the crowd that flocked to Honest Ed’s on Sunday to mark the iconic bargain centre’s 65th birthday. A week after news broke that the Bathurst and Bloor property is up for sale for $100 million, Honest Ed’s celebrated six and a half decades of business with giveaways, free hotdogs, personalized signs, a magic show and, of course, more bargains. David Mirvish welcomed the crowd and presented Toronto police Chief Bill Blair with a donation for the Widows and Orphans Fund, an annual Honest Ed’s tradition. Councillor Mike Layton also joined the celebration and spoke about growing up just around the corner from the landmark store.“Some of my earliest memories are of getting lost here,” he told the crowd. “There’s truly no place like this in Toronto.”But the fact that the store’s days are numbered wasn’t lost on partygoers. As bargain hunters rummaged through piles of briefs and scrub tops priced at 25 cent apiece, many shook their heads and reminisced about years of shopping at Honest Ed’s. Michelle Buozis, 55, said she has been frequenting Honest Ed’s for most of her life and still remembers visiting the discount centre with her father and her three siblings. “My dad would take us all down here. It was very special,” Buozis said, adding that her father used to line up at 6 a.m. for the store’s annual turkey giveaway. “I wanted to come and say goodbye before they tear it down. Coming here is a tradition — it’s going to be like losing a friend.”Helene Hoffman, 60, came to the birthday bash armed with a fold-out chair and hopes of winning some of the $15,000 worth of theatre tickets being given away. But the celebration was bittersweet for her, with the end of the iconic store in sight.“I’ve been shopping here since I was a child,” she said. “And I still come here all the time to get bargains for my grandchildren. I’ll be sad to see it go.”But David Mirvish said that, despite nostalgia, the time is right for change. The store has served Toronto well over the years in a way that it no longer does, according to him. At a time when price-cutting was unheard of, his father “Honest” Ed Mirvish fought to deliver bargains to his customers and set a precedent among merchants. Now, as more and more retailers like Walmart are offering customers low prices, Mirvish says it’s time to “dream big” and create something for the 21st century.“We haven’t withered away yet so we’re not being pushed out the door,” he said. “That’s the time to make decision. That’s when you pick the next person to go on and do something great in the neighbourhood.”“You don’t preserve bricks and mortars. What you preserve is behaviour and memory.”Russell Lazar, 72, who has been general manager of Honest Ed’s for 40 years, said the store still has a few more birthdays to celebrate before its next reincarnation. Even then, he says, the bargain emporium’s legacy is unlikely to fade. “There’s a certain sadness to it but the memories, at least, are wonderfully fulfilling.”
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