Store Watch: UpsideDive

January 8th, 2009

UpsideDive is one of those shops that you are either lucky to stumble across or remain unaware of indefinitely. So we would like to formally introduce you to one of Toronto’s hidden gems when it comes to all things vintage.


Who are you?
UpsideDive – we hunt, collect, and sell vintage and second hand goods. Currently, siblings Angie and Mike Dalla-Giustina run the show full time.

How long has the store been open?
The online shop launched January 2007, and our showroom has been open since February 2008.


Why did you open your store?
We came to a point in our lives in which we believed that in order for us to continue working, it would ultimately have to be for ourselves. UpsideDive came around because we live in a very disposable consumer society. There is sooo much amazing vintage and second hand goods out there that deserve another chance instead of a ending up in a landfill.


What can people expect to find when visiting your store?
Good prices, a great mix of style, a couple of kooks hung up on romancing.


Who are your customers?
Our customers are looking at themselves through interiors. Maybe it’s kitsch or retro, mid century or modern. Maybe they’re a tad nostalgic. And maybe they’re just a mixed bag.


Favorite moment while running your store?
When there’s a connection with the customer. When we find exactly what the customer is looking for.


Worst or most Embarrassing moment?
Trying to fit an eight foot club couch into an apartment that just wouldn’t allow it – such a nightmare! In the end it just wouldn’t fit, but we kept our cool and the customer was refunded.


Name something  you sell in your store, that you also own in your own home?
Rosti plastic kitchen wares, West German Pottery, ’50s & ’60s Toys – especially Fisher Price., Gaudy ’70s Art, Spacey Italian lamps…


What are you really interested in right now?
Purple in any hue and any material, glass objects – they’re so fragile and such an interesting medium, office furniture in the home, rugs! oh-my-gawd rugs!

Is there a specific item that you regret selling?
No regrets, though Ang once sold a gorgeous yellow cut Alabaster ashtray, that she so pined for. And Mike sold a pair of mens tan brogue lace-up boots, that he adored. Since, he’s heard the owner never wears them, which breaks his heart ever more.

Ok, so we are a bit late in reporting on this one. We were away when UpsideDive moved out of their hidden digs to the sunny streetside of Queen Street East. Now that it’s accessible by the Queen Street East streetcar (well before the DVP bridge), we think it’s about high time you head on over and say hello.

269 Queen St, East, Toronto, ON
Hours: Wed/Thurs 10-6pm, Fri 10-7pm, Sat 10-5pm, Sun 12-5p

(days and hours can change over time. These are up to date as of July 2009. Always best to call or check their website for the most recent info.)

If you are from out of town, you can shop through their website:
or call 416-546-3037 to schedule an appointment to visit their showroom.

As we said above, UpsideDive is the type of place that’s easy to miss out on, so when we came across it, we were through the roof happy. Back in the fall, we were in the market for a new coffee table and were busy on the hunt when we stumbled across the perfect piece that just so happened to be vintage. As such, we had no idea where we would find it as we didn’t know the name of the designer or manufacturer. One day (much like every day), John was busy scouring through the endlessness that is the internet when he stumbled upon a craigslist page that contained some random objects of interest. These objects just so happened to be from UpsideDive, who happened to maintain a blog that contained an entry that had a photo of this crazy coffee table that we thought we’d never find. We sent them a frantic email containing mostly gibberish as we were so excited and they got back to us, thankfully, that same day with the good news that they still had it in their showroom and that it was not going to cost us the arm and leg that we had anticipated. This sculptural/usefull piece of furniture is a pivotal element in the design of our living room, and as such, we love it. Now, we visit UpsideDive’s “secret” location any chance we get, to check out their new pottery and art or just to chat.

Just in case you are curious: After a bit more detailed searching on the internet, we discovered that the design is by Italian designer Paolo Piva and we think that the table we acquired is a knock off of his Alanda Table.


Photographs: Juli Daoust, 2009

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