Luigi Silletta remembers the Bird Liquor’s earliest days in the back of its Glanford Avenue building, when they squeezed what offerings they could in just 700 square feet.
“Our cooler alone is bigger than that now,” he laughs.
For customers, the change has brought the opportunity to sample not only the best of a burgeoning local brewing, distilling and winemaking industry, but flavours from around the world.
Since moving upstairs into the former Bird of Paradise pub space, Bird Liquor boasts more than 3,000 square feet of space and one of Saanich’s best selections of craft beers – both a full complement of local pours and great global labels.
If your tastes lean to more widely shared brews you’ll find those too, and at prices competitive with the provincial liquor stores, Silletta says. “Located in this beautifully refurbished farmhouse, we’re proud to offer a boutique shopping experience without the boutique prices.”
The emphasis on local extends beyond the beer aisle.
“We’re also able to offer many of the local craft ciders and local craft spirits as well,” he says.
Tapping into his own particular area of interest, Silletta is also pleased to offer more than 80 whiskies from some of the world’s favourite distillers. Not sure what to try? He’s always willing to share his insights. “It’s a real passion of mine, and it’s an area we’ve really been able to develop over the last few years,” he says.
He’s also imparted that passion to his team, who enjoy ongoing education that allows them to guide visitors in selecting a product they’ll be pleased with.
As a locally owned and operated store in the heart of one of Saanich’s most established neighbourhoods, Silletta appreciates the connections he and his staff have forged with their neighbours.
“A lot of our customers we know on a first-name basis,” he says. “I like that we’re able to develop those relationships with a lot of our neighbours. I feel very fortunate with the staff we have now. We’re able to take time with customers to help them find just what they’re looking for and to make them feel welcome.”