Vintage Toronto Ads: I Am Solomon
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Vintage Toronto Ads: I Am Solomon

And he sold sewing machines, stereos, and soul.

Source: Toronto Sun, October 5, 1973

Source: Toronto Sun, October 5, 1973.

He was Solomon. And, judging from this ad, he sold many things to entertain his customers and help them keep their clothing and home in tip-top shape. Perhaps his ability to sell records was boosted by his passing resemblance to 1970s soul superstar Isaac Hayes.

Given the location of his business—the southeast side of Dupont and Bathurst—we wonder if Solomon pondered customer requests and daily sales figures while dining across the street at the Vesta Lunch. “Reputable since 1955,” as its sign claims, the greasy spoon has provided comfort food and inspiration for many Torontonians. Take comedian Jim Carrey, who, while giving the Star a tour of his Toronto in 1982, cited the Vesta as one of his favourite places when searching for local characters late at night.

“There’s this little Greek lady in there who’s just a cartoon, she’s about this tall” (he indicates four-foot nothing). Carrey was sold on the place the day he ordered toast and his “little lady” promptly grabbed a plate of toast abandoned by customer and plunked it down in front of him. “You know she’s joking but she looks so serious and mad all the time,” he laughs.

Accompanying Solomon’s sales pitch on his particular page of the Sun was an odd mixture of ads and stories. “Before and after” photos depicted an Ottawa couple, Suzanne and Jacques Cote, who shaved their shaggy hair for shiny bald pates in a style they defined as “Kung Fu.” The main article described an exciting new self-defence product: “Defend U,” a pepper spray that the manufacturer indicated was ideal for home or office use. Fellow advertisers included a discount carpet cleaner, a wine-making supplier, and the Scientology Book Store, which tried to play on readers tortured by “selfishness and dishonesty in others.”

Based on matching location and telephone numbers in various classifieds, Solomon’s business appears to have been called Electro-Sew Company. The shop moved from Bloor and Jane to Solomon’s address around the time this ad appeared. Toshiba home electronics were among the shop’s specialities, with classified ads offering stereo sets for half-off the list price.

Electro-Sew soon moved again, around the corner to 1081 Bathurst Street (currently Ayurveda Rituals). By May 1975, a classified announced the sad news that “everything must go to the bare walls,” including $25 Singer sewing machines. There’s no indication if Solomon was still around to offer the best terms available.

Additional material from the June 23, 1973, February 4, 1974, May 16, 1975, and June 6, 1982 editions of the Toronto Star, and the October 5, 1973 edition of the Toronto Sun.