David Mirvish is looking to sell Honest Ed's, the iconic discount store that has lit up the corners of Toronto's Bloor and Bathurst streets for 65 years.
The store's general manager, Russell Lazar, who has worked there for 55 years, said that the property is for sale but no deal has been signed. He expects the store to remain open for at least a couple more years.
"If there is a sale – and nothing has been signed yet – it will include that Honest Ed's still continues to exist for the next few years," Mr. Lazar said in an interview.
The retailer, which was opened by Ed Mirvish in 1948, is well known for giving away free turkeys before the holidays and for the blaring lights, resembling the marquee on a theatre, that shine above its doors.
Ed Mirvish died six years ago and his son David is now running the family business. Last fall he unveiled plans to demolish his own Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto's entertainment district to make way for a massive three-tower condo development featuring a gallery for his extensive personal art collection. Mr. Mirvish has said his new project is not so much condos, as rather three sculptures that can be lived in (renowned architect Frank Gehry is the designer), and observers say that Mr. Mirvish, who is in his late 60s, is seeking ways to leave a lasting legacy in the city.
"Everything you do in life is timing," Mr. Lazar said. "Whether it's business or personal, everything and everybody has a beginning and an end, and I think Ed and David have always had quite amazing timing."
He noted that the father and son long ago closed down their well-known restaurant, Ed's Warehouse, which was open for more than 30 years.
David Mirvish is travelling in New York and unavailable for comment, a spokesperson for his company said. Mr. Mirvish called Mr. Lazar to a meeting some weeks ago to give him the news that the store was being put up for sale. It comes as Mr. Mirvish prepares to host Honest Ed's 65th anniversary party this Sunday, featuring food, beverages and entertainment onsite.
Mr. Lazar said there have been rumours for decades that the store was up for sale. "This is part of David's legacy, the family legacy where his dad started this business," Mr. Lazar said, noting that Ed Mirvish opened stores in the neighbourhood as far back as 1941. "I have no doubt that David cares passionately about who would look after this here property if it's sold."
The store has between 100 and 120 employees, he said. "We're here for the next few years," Mr. Lazar added. "We're not going anywhere. After this, we're getting ready to give the turkeys away in the fall."
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