Monday, March 10, 2014

Honest Ed's colourful signs scooped up

TORONTO - For several dollars, anyone could have walked away Monday with a piece of history from Toronto retail icon Honest Ed’s.

With the 66-year-old store, located at Bathurst and Bloor Sts., about to shutter its doors, the bargain retail outlet held a first-come, first-serve sale of more than 2,000 hand-drawn and coloured sale signs that have appeared on the different floors of the building over the years.

With the doors slated to open at 11 a.m., David Dunkley, who owns a hat shop close by, lined up at 5 a.m. so he could be one of the first to purchase a piece of coveted nostalgia.

By the time the store opened, hundreds had lined up on sidewalks around the store.

“I figured it was a once in a lifetime thing, so why not?” said Dunkley, who ended up buying three signs to add to his collection of pop art.

Businessman and theatre impresario David Mirvish — son of the store’s founder, Ed Mirvish — said Monday’s sell-off served as a sign of mutual appreciation between the store and customers and was a tribute to his late father.

“I can remember my father in the morning getting on the loudspeaker here in the store and saying, ‘Hurry, hurry, hurry, right this way you lucky people. Don’t faint at this low prices, there’s no place to lay down,’” said Mirvish.

He autographed signs for the many buyers, who paid anywhere from eight cents to $30 for their souvenirs.

Mirvish sold the site to a Vancouver developer in October. The asking price was reportedly $100 million.

“We have a studio here, just belting out signs everyday,” said Douglas Kerr, 66, who has worked in the department store’s “sign shop” for almost 20 years.

Kerr estimated he turned out more than 20,000 signs during his tenure at the store.

Proceeds from Monday’s sale are going to Victims Services Toronto.
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