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Vintage Toronto Ads: Honest Ed’s Smells Out Bargains For You!

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“Honest Ed” Mirvish was many things—successful merchant, theatrical impressario, civic booster. For almost as long as his store at Bloor and Bathurst has operated, he also brought smiles to the faces of advertising bean counters at local newspapers.
Large-scale discount stores gained popularity in the 1950s, as post-war shoppers looked for economical ways to support their families and new lifestyles. First came the local store, often an outgrowth of a pre-existing department store, dry goods seller or grocer. 1962 was the turning point, as K-Mart, Kohl’s, Meijer, Target, Wal-Mart and Woolco all opened their first large-scale locations, pitching items from popcorn to parakeets. In Ontario, Steinberg’s (later Miracle Mart), Towers and Zellers gained a foothold in malls and plazas, while K-Mart and Woolco quickly ventured across the border.
The competition for newspaper space among discounters was fierce, as copies of the Star and Telegram from this period also feature large ads for Steinberg’s, Towers and Rite-Way. Honest Ed’s ads were blockier than the competition, with more featured products and no line-drawn/clip art fashion models.
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Since the main ad doesn’t feature any of the store’s trademark jokes (though the logo vaguely resembles the early human-filled masthead used by Mad magazine), here are banners from their other ads that week. These included deals on Geritol ($1.67/bottle), pellet guns ($3.55 each; 59 cents for ammo), herring (three tins for 31 cents) and wading pools ($7.99).
Sources: Toronto Telegram, July 13, 1967 (main ad), Toronto Telegram, July 15, 1967, and Toronto Daily Star, July 20, 1967 (banners).

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