Helping To Celebrate A 65 Year Old Magical Spirit!

On Sunday, July 21st, 2013, I had the great honour of performing a special magic show at Honest Ed’s 65th Birthday Party!  And what a Party it was.

David Mirvish (Ed’s son and now the Mirvish impresario) welcomed the crowd which included police chief Bill Blair, local politicians and dignitaries, and hundreds of customers; all of who were treated to free hot dogs, cake, live entertainment, theatre tickets (courtesy of the Mirvish theatre empire) and other giveaways, and bargains, bargains, and more bargains.

For those of you not it the know, Honest Ed’s is a landmark, “truly one-of-a-kind”, discount store located in midtown Toronto that sells everything from twine to wine in a most unusual way. It is named for its creator and proprietor, Ed Mirvish, who opened the store in 1948 and oversaw its operations until his death in 2007.

Prominently located on the corner of Bloor and Bathurst Streets Honest Ed’s runs the whole length of the block and looks more like an old time theatre than a store. The exterior is covered with huge red and yellow signs advertising the name of the store, lit up like a theatre marquee with over 23,000 light bulbs used.   But the “electricity” does not stop there.

The interior is over 160,000 square feet of thousands of bargain priced items ranging from house wares to clothes to grocery items, and a whole lot of fun!

You see amidst the regular merchandise are the store’s unique decor consisting of posters and photos from old films, stage productions (many from Mirvish’s theatre productions – Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Disney’s The Lion King, Mamma Mia, etc) as well as of actors and musicians who performed in them.

Plus the walls are crammed with autographed pictures of show business personalities such as Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Lauren Bacall, Jimmy Durante, Celine Dion and countless others (many personally dedicated to Ed Mirvish himself).

For lovers of unusual memorabilia and collectible antiques there are also many unique historical items, which once were part of Ed’s former World Famous Restaurant and Market Museum, that are for viewing and for sale.

And every piece of store signage, inside and out, is hand-painted with puns and slogans such as “How cheap can a guy get? Come in and find out.”, “Only the floors are crooked”, and “Welcome, don’t faint at our low prices, there’s no place to lie down!”

Bottom line – Honest Ed’s is an extremely magical store that is not only a unique selling environment, but a “one-of-a-kind”, live, entertainment experience.  And here lies the real magic!  This is the magic of Ed Mirvish.

The magic started in 1948 for Ed after years of smaller, unsuccessful, entrepreneurial ventures and then working his way up in the grocery business.  With the help of cashing in his wife’s $212 insurance policy, his unique business sense of what the customer really wanted, creativity and imagination, and his “never give up” attitude, Honest Ed’s was born.

Originally stocked with all kinds of odd merchandise purchased at bankruptcy and fire sales and displayed on orange crates, this unique no-credit, no-service, no-frills business was an immediate success. Honest Ed’s (billing itself as the world’s biggest discount department store) gradually expanded to fill an entire city block and it was soon bringing in millions of dollars a year!

The business kept expanding and the rest, as they say is history – an artist’s village, restaurants, theatres, and a magical legacy of giving the customer what they want AND always giving back to the community.

Now I could go on to write an entire book on Mr. Mirvish’s ideas, deeds and accomplishment, but no need to, as Ed has written a couple of great ones himself (http://honesteds.sites.toronto.com/index.html).

But what I would like to say is that Ed Mirvish, and Honest Ed’s is a great reminder that if you really pay attention to what the customer wants and needs, give it to them in a fun and honest way, and really strive to make your customer into a valued member of your family, you will succeed.

You will have changed someone’s life in a positive way and created a life long memory.   You will have made magic happen!

Happy Birthday Honest Ed’s!

PS:  Honest Ed’s Company Motto – “The nicest people in the world pass through our doors: our customers.”

PPS:   Honest Ed’s and the Mirvish Empire are not overnight sensations or the result of simply throwing money at something to make it happen.  It is careful planning, observation and constant action (and a whole lot of elbow grease).  Remember Ed only started with $212 and a dream.  What can you do?