'Don't just stand there!': Honest Ed's hosting final sign sale

Two months before it closes for good, Honest Ed’s will start selling the last of its iconic, hand-painted signs this weekend.

As it prepares to close, the iconic department store will sell thousands of hand-painted, pun-heavy signs

The hand-painted, pun-laden signs at Honest Ed's have been part of the discount department store's iconic brand for more than half a century. (CBC)

Two months before permanently closing, Honest Ed's will start selling the last of its iconic, hand-painted signs this weekend.

Beginning Saturday, thousands of pun-heavy signs will be up for grabs, at a starting price of $1. 

The signs are a defining feature of the discount Toronto department store, which will close on Dec. 31 after 68 years in business.

"Many of the signs bring back all sorts of memories for me," said owner David Mirvish, son of Edwin "Honest Ed" Mirvish.

"I didn't think I'd be quite so overwhelmed by it as I am today."

David Mirvish said that seeing the signs brings back a flood of memories from his childhood. (CBC)

'Honest Ed's' after-dinner hobby

Mirvish said crafting the cheeky, often outrageous slogans was one of his father's favourite hobbies.

"After dinner he would sit at the dinner table at home and write out these slogans," said David Mirvish.

"And he'd write it and press hard and it'd impress itself right onto the dining room table. And it didn't make my mother happy. But that was his creativity and he had a lot of fun."​

David Mirvish said this classic Honest Ed's sign has always been one of his favourites. (CBC)

Each sign hand-painted

Every sign from over the years was hand-painted by an in-store artist, meaning each one is slightly different. 

"It's personal, it's labour intensive, it's of another era," said Mirvish, noting that there are still two sign painters working at Honest Ed's.

"I don't know where you'd see it in Canada today."

Crafting the pun-heavy slogans was a favourite hobby of Ed Mirvish. The new TTC signs stick to this tradition. (CBC)

Reds and yellows

The classic signs lean heavily on red and yellows — colours that Ed Mirvish thought would attract attention.

"He said, 'Make it any colour you want as long as it's red,'" David Mirvish said, laughing.

Previous sign sales at Honest Ed's have attracted thousands of customers. (Michael Cole/CBC)

Many of the signs also make fun of "Honest Ed" — Mirvish said his father never took himself too seriously. But the store and the customers were a different story.

"My father's rule was you could say anything about him. You could make fun of him. But you never made fun of the merchandise, and you never made fun of the customer," said Mirvish.

"Those were the two sacred rules."

David Mirvish said his father loved to make fun of himself, but the "sacred rule" was to never mock the customers or the merchandise. (CBC)

20,000 signs already sold

Honest Ed's has already sold around 20,000 signs in the lead up to its closing. At previous sign sales, sign-craving customers have formed lines stretching around the block.

Mirvish said it's been a pleasant surprise to not see many signs being resold on places like e-Bay.

Customers have the chance to take home an iconic Honest Ed's sign one last time, starting on Saturday. (CBC)

"It means that people recognize that they're handmade and there won't be these things in the future and they will actually treasure them as memories," he said.​

There will be a limit of 12 signs per customer at the sale, which starts on Saturday at 8 a.m.