‘Life members’ needed to save The Tote as campaign closes

The Tote, Collingwood - for herald sun real estate

Offers for The Tote are about to close — but the community could have a win if enough people pledge to help buy it.

The campaign to save The Tote is going into overdrive, with the deadline for offers to buy the iconic music pub closing at 3pm on April 6.

“The Last Chance to Save The Tote”, run by The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar’s Shane Hilton and his partner Leanne Chance, has been calling on punters to sign up as “life members” to help them buy the Collingwood property,listed for $6m-$6.6m.

The couple can raise about 50 per cent of that and have a $3m fundraising target through Pozible, towards which they have currently raised a touch over $1.1m.

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The Tote, Collingwood - for herald sun real estate

The iconic corner site in Collingwood.

The Tote, Collingwood - for herald sun real estate

If these walls could talk their breath would probably have some beer on it.

Those interested can pledge as much as they like towards the cause, but as of Wednesday afternoon it was in need of about 1800 more “life members”: donors of $1000 or more.

“We can do this,” The Last Chance posted to its socials.

And Mr Hilton explained that $1000-plus pledge, which is only deducted if they’re successful, went a long way, in many ways.

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“You get our whole range of four T-shirts, a vinyl compilation album, your name on a life member’s wall — like at a golf club or a cricket club in the front bar — and there’ll be a support wall side of stage in the bandroom,” he said.

“You’ll get 10 per cent off for life at The Tote and at The Last Chance, and for some unknown reason I’m going to get your name tattooed on me. I have 70 on me at the moment.”

The Tote, Collingwood - for herald sun real estate

“Priced for development”: The Tote, Collingwood.

He’s figured out the surface area for the rest, and said they were compelled to step in because the property was “not priced to continue as a live music venue … it’s priced for development”.

“The reality is live music venues aren’t run to make mega bucks, they’re run with passion and what you get out of them isn’t financial, what you get out of them is more of a satisfaction of knowing you’re doing something for the community, and for the future and for Australian music.”

The Tote is one of the country’s most iconic music pubs and a key pillar of Melbourne’s live music scene.

The hotel at 67-71 Johnston St has been known as “Melbourne’s home of rock” since 1981, with the pub itself built in 1870.

It has hosted many famous acts including Paul Kelly, The White Stripes, Magic Dirt, The Beasts of Bourbon, You Am I, The Troggs, Jet, Silverchair and the Hoodoo Gurus.

The Tote, Collingwood - for herald sun real estate

Some of Australia’s biggest rock acts have stomped the floorboards.

The Tote, Collingwood - for herald sun real estate

About 1800 “life members” are needed to help save it.

Current co-owners Jon Perring and Sam Crupi stated last month “they have no petrol left in the tank after the stresses and strains of navigating The Tote through the pandemic”.

“The Tote needs to broaden its business model to remain relevant in the future,” they said.

“We will be looking favourably at proposals that ensure a live music component including buyers who wish to pursue a mixed development of the property centred around the hotel. “There is plenty of opportunity around the addition of food service to the existing business or by the addition of a brew house.”

Mr Hilton said if they raised $3m by the time they had to put in their offer on April 6 “it would be preferable” and they could “put it to bed and get it straight away”, but it was not essential to hit that particular target in 24 hours and the 1800 life members was the focus.

“In Melbourne, we know there’s 1800 people that would care enough that a live music venue as important as The Tote is saved for the community forever,” he said.

“We know they’re out there, we’re just trying to reach them.”

The campaign is understood to be the largest ever on Pozible.

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