Inside, shelves are well stocked and new additions will be arriving through the coming months as owner Jimmy Karountzos focuses on local and regional products not readily available elsewhere. (Photo credit Lorne Eckersley)

Creston Liquor Store opens doors

Nearly four decades after building the popular Dionysos Restaurant on Canyon Street, Jimmy Karountzos has opened Creston’s largest liquor store.

The Creston Liquor Store, constructed on the site of a former auto service garage at Canyon Street and 15th Avenue South, has been more than two years in the making.

“Why did I renovate instead of just tearing the old building down?” he said on Monday. “I liked the high ceiling! But really, there would have been a lot of waste, including the roof, which had been redone a year before I bought it.”

Technically, the Creston Liquor Store isn’t a new business. The new building replaces the much smaller store in the Karountzos family-owned Creston Hotel & Suites.

“There was not enough room where I was—I wanted to carry more products and to have more room for the cold storage.” A large walk-in cooler now supplements the glass display cases.

Renovating always has its surprises, he said, but he started out only with enough of a building plan to satisfy local and BC Liquor Board requirements, ready to change and adapt as construction moved along. Block walls were removed and replaced with 8-inch insulated walls, and four different levels of main floor concrete were eventually removed to make the main floor a single level.

“I made a lot of changes—that’s why it took me that long!”

Customer convenience and safe access was a key from the start, Karountzos said. Parking is available under the roof at the main access, and the parking lot across the alley is heated to keep it free from snow and ice.

“Wow, I can’t believe this is in Creston,” is the most common comment he has received since the store opened last week, and the stained concrete floor gets a lot of attention.

“That was a happy accident,” he laughed. During construction, a hydraulic man-lift leaked drop of oil onto the new concrete, but the leak went unnoticed until later.

“My crew and I cleaned, stained, polished and sealed the floor—it turned out beautifully!”

While a wide selection of products is already in stock, customers can expect much more in the coming months, he said. Two more units of shelving will be added, and the stock will be increased to add more local wines and spirits, one of the advantages that independent liquor stores have.

“We will be carrying as many local and regional products as we can,” he said. “Spirits from Kimberley, Trail, the Creston Valley—we want them all. The same goes for wine and beer.”

Upstairs, a mezzanine has been designed to accommodate tastings, and wine, spirits and beer will all be promoted.

“People have been asking why we have covered decks upstairs,” he chuckled. “Well, we want to be able to go out and enjoy the view down Canyon Street!”

As the owner of the largest liquor store in town, Karountzos is committed to keeping his prices competitive with the BCLDB.

“My prices are the same as the government store—even the cold wine and beer selection,” he said. “And we have an advantage because we can carry more products by small local producers.”

“It’s been a lot of fun doing this,” he said of the construction.” People have been very positive and their reaction since we have opened has been fantastic!”

The Creston Liquor Store is open from 9 am to 11 pm, 364 days a year, closing only for Christmas.

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