“Being close to the people who we live and work with is the draw of Midtown,” said Chris Tatlock, partner of Under the Sun Market, a grocery slated to open April 2 in Maple Crossing at 3802 N. Illinois St.
“We moved to Indy primarily to follow our church also called Midtown, located at 56th and Broadway,” he said.
Chris, originally from Greenwood, is an Indiana State University graduate who returned to Indianapolis. Chris said he and his wife AnnDee and their three children, Hallie age 7, Burke age 4 and Franklin, almost two years old, love the Midtown community.
“We initially moved to 48th and Guilford. We grew and we needed a bigger house, so we moved to 44th and College. And we love it,” he said. “We’re excited about the redevelopment. It’s exciting to see the area grow.”
Under the Sun Market is part of Midtown’s redevelopment. The business has two locations in Indianapolis and Greenwood and will open a third location in Midtown.
Chris described Under the Sun Market as a for-profit business, designed to address food waste and food access issues while serving a purpose within the community.
“I’m extremely passionate about food waste and food access. It makes it very easy to come into work and push our stores forward. There’s profit driven work and mission driven work. When you’re passionate about something it’s not a chore. It’s more than a grocery store. We want people to really value us being around.”
The concept of a small, affordable grocery was born from Chris and his partner’s experience reselling liquidated inventory. They bought and resold individual items, and expanded to purchase by the palette, then by the truckload. With that growth came unique challenges, like what to do with perishable inventory.
“With liquidation purchases, we didn’t necessarily go out and choose what we wanted to buy. In any given truckload, there’s 20,000 different items,” Chris explained.
“It was really hard for us in our previous business model to figure out what to do with food. So, we decided to keep the food in house, put on social media that we have nice food at cheap prices, and see what happens. We put a notice out, and people wanted to buy the food we had for sale.”
Seeing customer demand for affordable, fresh food, Chris discovered the opportunity to grow a brand and address the food access and food waste challenges in the community.
“We saw the opportunity to solve the food access issue and position ourselves in many different places within urban communities,” Chris said.
He explained the big box stores and chain grocers have a geographic footprint too large to build in many urban areas. Under the Sun Market is intentionally small, about 1,500 square feet, enabling the business to find space in urban areas where the food access need is the greatest.
“Our overhead is much lower due to our business model and small store size, so we can go where the food need is, and we can offer options for the people in the community.
“As for the food waste issue, if we don’t buy it or if someone else doesn’t buy it, it will go to a landfill,” Chris said. “We’re helping a food waste issue, and we’re passing on deep discounts to those who need it.”