Strange brew in Indianapolis

Sullivan Hardware & Garden of Indianapolis is no stranger to recognition in the local media. But its latest “best of” Indianapolis title marks what might be considered a strange departure.

The store won the Indianapolis Monthly’s “Best Retro Soda Pop” award.

After discovering the niche at the Do it Best Market, and under the encouragement of the Chicago-based supplier Real Soda Midwest, store owner Pat Sullivan decided to pop the top.  “The rep told us stories about a couple of other retailers who had retro soda, and so we went with it,” said Sullivan, who is also a board member of the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based co-op.

The store’s soda revenues average about $2,500 a month, selling both cold and warm bottles of old-fashioned soda flavors, including Cheerwine Longnecks (Sullivan’s favorite) and Leninade, a lemonade derivative with a hammer-and-sickle logo, and the self-explanatory Dad’s Blue Cream Soda.

Real Soda Midwest specializes in creating a store-within-a-store old-fashioned soda niche. At Sullivan, the niche is working as planned. “Not only does it work for impulse purchases, but people come back to buy specific brands,” Sullivan said.

The margin story is also positive, he said. His cost for a bottle is $1.03, which sells for as high as $1.79 plus tax for a bottle.