swan dive

Owner of Toronto bar touched after customers buy up their entire beer inventory

It's no secret how badly small businesses in Toronto are faring right now, especially those in the hospitality industry, like beloved Dundas West watering hole Swan Dive.

After spending much of the year closed for in-person service thanks to the health crisis, the unique and charmingly unglamorous spot is now among the countless that have to rely on delivery and takeout only once more as Toronto bides its second week in grey-level lockdown.

Ultimately, the bar's owners decided that the takeaway alcohol and food sales were simply no longer feasible to keep them afloat given operating costs, and that the establishment would unfortunately have to close for the foreseeable future so that no more money was lost.

But when you've got shelves and shelves of craft beer on hand and finances are tight, closing up shop for some months is not a simple task. So, they issued a call for customers to come buy up their eclectic stock, which would otherwise go to waste.

"Looks like we ain't making enough to stay open. We will be closing down after Monday for a little while," the team wrote in an Instagram post at the end of last week.

"Please don't let all of this beer go to waste! Also we could really use the money to help with all that damn pesky rent!"

To the bar's surprise, the plea was widely shared, and an outpouring of unexpected support quickly and steadily ensued.

By end of day Saturday, half of their inventory was already gone, and by early Monday, the last planned day of service, their supply was officially sold out.

"Well, Y'ALL SAVED US! THANK YOU! What a crazy, wonderful, heart warming weekend," management wrote on social media, adding that they had indeed raised enough to cover rent and "safely go into hibernation."

Owner Abra Shiner told blogTO that it won't be a complete hibernation, though, as the Dive has some pretty cool things cooking up for the coming months, including some collaborative winter pop-ups and some exclusive bar swag that will be up for grabs soon.

"I sure am gonna miss the Dive 'til spring time. But mostly I am just so in awe of the outpouring of kindness," she said.

"I am so grateful to all the people who came out to buy up some of our stockpile, to all the people who shared our posts, and to all the amazing, kind, supportive people in our community. It's bittersweet [because] I love my bar and my bar family... but I know it's all we can do to stay open in the long run and it's safer for everyone."

As we move into the holidays and what would usually be the most lucrative time of year for independent retailers and other businesses, as many have been urging, shop small and support local where you can, because your dollar can clearly make an real difference.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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