Grand Canyon Spirits owner Cecily Maniaci is bringing the local corner liquor and convenience store back to Flagstaff.
Maniaci brought the store to the corner of Humphreys Street and Fort Valley Road from Tusayan in November. She opened the store in Tusayan in 2008 as a gift shop.
However, the gift shop idea didn’t do so well with the downturn in the economy, she said. So she switched the store to a liquor and convenience store where locals and tourists could find the goods they needed.
Maniaci said she brought the store to Flagstaff because she wanted to move the business closer to the other businesses she has in this city. Maniaci also owns the two Toasted Owl restaurants on the east and west sides of Flagstaff and the Hoot Mart on North San Francisco Street. She was traveling back and forth to Tusayan two or three times a week and it was just getting to be too much, she said.
The shop consists of one side of entirely non-alcoholic drinks and snacks and a spot for Wheelys Café to sell their coffee. The other side has a growing stock of wines, liquors and spirits. Maniaci said she hopes to continue to add to the stock of snacks, drinks and other merchandise available as more requests for items come in from the neighborhood. She also wants to bring in some of the sandwiches from the Toasted Owl into the shop.
She said she wants the store to become a local favorite. She loves the new location of the store because it’s in a small neighborhood where she gets to see regular customers. Most of the customers in Tusayan were tourists who were looking for a bottle of wine or something for their picnic to the Grand Canyon. She said it was great meeting so many people from different areas of the world, but there’s something special about being the corner convenience store and being able to great the regulars as they come in the door.
The store carries a number of local brews and Arizona beers, wines and liquors, as well as Matador Coffee and Huppy Bars, she said. But she is more than willing to try and order anything a customer requests. She’s been able to fill a number of requests already and is almost always surprised by what people ask for.
For example, rye whiskeys are a popular request, so she ordered in a number of different kinds. Cream sherry was another unusual item.
Maniaci said that even though she doesn’t drink much, she likes learning about the different liquors, wines and beers and the stories behind why customers are seeking them. She said the stock at the store will continue to grow to meet the needs of the neighborhood.
Maniaci, who was a high school teacher, said she isn’t worried about the students from nearby Flagstaff High School getting access to the alcohol. The store is clearly divided into an alcohol-only and non-alcohol side, which makes it easy to spot customers who may not belong in the side with the alcohol. She also trusts her staff, some of whom have worked for her for many years.