Toronto's Honest Ed's will go

John sez, "Honest Ed's, the iconic Toronto discount store ('There's no place like this place. Anyplace') is up for sale and will be closing. You may know it from its appearance in the Scott Pilgrim comic and film, but it's been a landmark in Toronto for decades. Not a surprise, of course, since it doesn't really fit in to today's retail landscape (they have real hand painted signs for all their prices painted by real honest to god sign painters that they employ full time) but of course, that's why it's such an amazing place. It will likely be replaced by yet another condo with ground floor stores that could be in any city in the world and a little bit more of Toronto's personality will be gone."

I had an office facing Honest Ed's for a while -- I finished Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town there, and that building has always been an integral part of the neighborhood for me. My grandparents shopped there. My parents shopped there. I shopped there. Toronto, like all the world's cities, is being crushed into a bland, multinational corporate sameness that makes us all poorer, except for a few shareholders.

Honest Ed's is up for sale

(Image: Honest Ed's, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from scruss's photostream)

Notable Replies

  1. It sad that the urban landscape of all our cities continues to be raped and bleached to the point where there is no individuality left. We are a much poorer society for it.

  2. tnmc says:

    And to think back in the day we used to criticise the Commies for being architecturally grey, bland and boring. And of spying on their own citizens. And pursuing political prosecutions. We have become them.

  3. That reminds me of a story I heard from a guy who visited Vietnam a few years ago. He and his Vietnamese guide were walking down a street in Ho Chi Min city. They passed a McDonald's, a KFC, and a Blockbuster. The guide motioned toward these stores and said, "Look! You won!"

    We have not only become what we most feared, but we have dragged others down with us.

  4. This is a very unique store and a local landmark. However, I don't see anything in the sale about the replacement ripping out the old structure, removing the uniqueness, becoming a condo, or opening 10 chain stores in the same space.

    I live in Jersey City and work in Manhattan, and on my commute I walk by two Starbucks, 2 Dunkin Donuts, 2 McDonalds, an Old Navy, a Marshall's/TJ Maxx, and an Urban Outfitters. However, I walk by significantly more unique, one-off shops. They sell food, drinks, clothing, glasses, jewelry. I walk by 5 other places to get coffee that are more convenient than Starbucks, and that's just the ones I recognize as selling coffee. The presence of the chain stores seems like a drag, except that the chain stores buoy the neighborhood and have allowed smaller, custom businesses to thrive.

    Those businesses still have to be GOOD businesses, not just interesting, of course. If you can't compete with Starbucks for selling coffee (and, honestly, it's not hard -- first, have good coffee. Second, be nice and have seating and a mediocre wifi connection), maybe you shouldn't be selling coffee? These big chains may lack personality, but they're also incredibly good for increasing competition and therefore quality in a local area. The prevalence of cheap burgers from chain fast food restaurants has spurred the creation of gourmet burgers, which are predominantly delicious! If McDonalds hadn't made the "quick burger" so ubiquitous, stars like Five Napkin Burger and Bareburger probably wouldn't exist.

    Of course, I remember when Five Guys was local to DC. Now they're everywhere -- and they still make great burgers. If your restaurant can't compete with Five Guys, though, you're doing something wrong, since their recipe for success is also very simple (fresh meat, free plentiful toppings, plentiful fries).

  5. Sorry--are we really using "rape" to describe the closing of a discount store? Really?

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