161230 Honest - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Honest Ed's is closing.

Everything, of course, is "for a limited time only…" Sometimes we know the end date, and other times we don't. In this case it has been coming for a long time, officially announced so long ago that I've forgotten when the news first broke. Yet it's only this past month or so that I've taken notice beyond feeling the lingering sense of impending nostalgia.

Today, on a cold and windy saturday afternoon – the last saturday afternoon that they're officially open – I passed three different photographers, standing on the same corner diagonally opposite the store, taking the same photo of the facade. This has been the easiest spot in the city to find photographers for the past month. I've certainly done my farewell tour as well; I've clustered a series of interior and exterior photos onto Google maps / street view, and made a couple of passes to photograph the details that most appealed to me. And, naturally, I've bought a few of the hand-painted signs to keep in my collection of things.

But while Honest Ed's has been part of my city for as long as I've been around, and I've been part of its neighbourhood for the past eight years, it's never really been a part of my life. I'll miss it, and am glad I've had the chance to go there with friends, but my day-to-day life won't be any different once it's gone. I will miss the little shops and restaurants that line the street beside it, but they're not all going away quite yet so I still have a few more chances to visit them. And perhaps a few can stay in the neighbourhood.

The idea that Toronto needs more condos is somewhat mindboggling. The good news is that to replace this iconic, if somewhat shabby, discount retailer will require something impressive. It's can't just be another cluster of glass curtains that's stepped back from the city – the developer has already put forward some grand plans, and while the execution is inevitably less grand, I'm hopeful that they'll need to follow through this time. Of course, time will tell, and it's always limited.


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