At Honest Ed's - Only The Floors Are Crooked

Yeah, yeah. Ed Mirvish and his son David transformed live theatre in Canada, London and around the world. Let's talk about his skills as a salesman. A master salesman.

Once upon a time, I lived a half block away from Honest Ed's Emporium, found at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst Streets in Toronto. The store was ringed with thousands upon thousands of incadescent lights, lighting up the street and the punny signs that just drew you in:

Honest Ed's a blabbermouth! He can't keep his prices a secret!

Honest Ed attracts squirrels. At these prices, they think he's nuts!

Honest Ed's no midwife, but the bargains he delivers are real babies!

Forget Paco Underhill's "butt brush" theory: Honest Ed's is jammed full of Israeli cookies, Chinese shoes, Indian cast iron kitchen tools, and everything else you could imagine. The prices are painted onto cardboard signs, just like pre-war general stores.

People will tolerate cramped aisleways, blaring visual stimuli and the basic presentation of products in exchange for low low prices.

Ed's promotions are legendary: free turkey and fruit cake at Christmas time; Honest Ed's dance marathon in the '60s; a pink elephant sale that got him into trouble with animal lovers.

All this retail magic gave Ed Mirvish, and his son David, the resources to rescue and revitalize classic theatre in Toronto.

"...Over a quarter century earlier when I bought the Royal Alexandra, although many people were happy that this theatre was safe for the time being, many were concerned with what I would do with it. They did have qualms. Frankly, in the early years I was often tempted to put vending machines on the back of the seats and sell toothpaste and razor blades. I am glad I resisted. (How I Became An Overnight Success in Seventy Five Years)

After the 2003 SARS outbreak led to a slump in business and tourist travel to Toronto, the Mirvish family worked with Toronto hotels to offer deeply discounted hotel and theatre packages to entice Canadians and Americans back to the city.

The tributes to a man who touched a city are pouring in, on the day he died at 92.

Photo by easternblot

[tags] Honest Ed's, Honest Ed, Ed Mirvish, discount retail, discount shopping [/tags]