Fred Konopaki

Spirits West, Bragg Creek

Fred Konopaki, owner of Spirits West in Bragg Creek, believes his staff and décor are what make his business stand out from the rest.

“I have a real tough time with the commodification of liquor,” he shares. “I come from 25 years in the restaurant business, so for me, ambiance is incredibly important–but nowhere near as important as something like service. For me, most liquor stores are just homogenous. Everything’s the same; they all look the same. The only thing that can set you apart is your service and your look, your experience.”

To that end, after Konopaki purchased Spirits West in January 2014, he transformed the store into a veritable treasure trove of craft liquor and interesting antiques. Between the carefully curated selection of products, you’ll also see everything from antique champagne crates and vintage photos of Bragg Creek, to taxidermy and even a pinball machine.

“It keeps people engaged,” Konopaki explains. “It keeps people in the store–you know the longer you can keep people in the store, the better it is. We’re in a pretty touristy location so people come in to our store just to look. We’ve created an impression and whether they buy or not, it’s really not important as long as you get that first impression going.”