ROUNDUP: Tinker Coffee buys larger space, plans to open cafe

Tinker Coffee Co. moved to a new, larger facility at 1125 W. 16th St. earlier this month, giving the coffee roastery space to open a café and expand its business in other ways.

The new space, located near 16 Tech, is about a mile and a half west of Tinker Coffee’s previous home at 212 E. 16th St. in the Herron-Morton neighborhood. The roastery bought the 10,000-square-foot building and will occupy about 7,000 square feet.

The business, which opened in 2014, had outgrown its original 1,200-square-foot space, said Steve Hall, who owns Tinker Coffee along with brother-in-law Jeff Johnson.

Tinker Coffee sells its products wholesale to local cafes and restaurants here and in other Indiana cities, including Columbus, Bloomington, Evansville and Fort Wayne. The business is also targeting out-of-state cities including Louisville, Cleveland and Cincinnati. “As our reputation grows a bit more, we’re hoping to get into more of the cafes in bigger cities,” Hall said. “We’re excited to keep growing.”

Hall said the new space will include 4,000 square feet for coffee roasting and production, and another 3,000 square feet for a café planned to open by late summer. 

The business has never had its own café—but it’s always been part of the plan, Hall said. “Ultimately in wholesale, especially in coffee, you need to have your own retail presence.”

The business is still deciding how much food it will sell at the café and whether it will pursue a liquor license.

The new, larger space will also allow Tinker Coffee to increase the size of its twice-a-month cupping classes, where participants taste and learn about different varieties of coffee. In the business’ old location, class sizes were capped at eight people. Now, there’s room to expand class sizes to 12-15 people, Hall said. 

Hall and Johnson plan to lease the remaining 3,000 square feet to outside tenants. Hall said the business has reached a verbal agreement to lease 1,000 square feet to A-1 Cyclery, which plans to move from 6847 W. Washington St. Tinker Coffee is still working to secure a tenant for the remaining 2,000 square feet. Hall said he and his partners also plan to lease out the roastery's old location in Herron-Morton.

In other retail news this week: 

— A virtual reality gaming space, Derezzed Virtual Reality, plans to open in mid-January at Hamilton Town Center. Owner Colin Snyder said the 1,300-square-foot space will offer a variety of virtual-reality experiences for patrons. Patrons can play a variety of games in one of five 9-foot-by-6-foot booths.

Snyder has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in health and exercise science, and he envisions the business as a way to help people become more active. Patrons can also choose seated experiences—two chairs will offer a place to do things like exploring Google maps or watching videos, and two others will offer racing and flight simulators. 

Customers can pay for 30 or 60 minutes, and prices vary depending on which virtual reality experience they choose.

— The former Blue Mile running store at Greenwood Park Mall has been rebranded as JackRabbit, with similar rebrandings planned for early next year at Blue Mile’s Fishers, Carmel and Broad Ripple locations. Denver, Colorado-based JackRabbit owns 63 stores in 18 states under a variety of names. It’s now in the process of rebranding all of them under the JackRabbit name. 

“This will allow us to market much better and also have a name that has identity to the running community,” JackRabbit CEO Bill Kirkendall told IBJ. The rebranding began about two years ago and is about 40 percent complete, he said.

JackRabbit was formerly part of Indianapolis-based The Finish Line Inc., which sold the running specialty chain to Los Angeles-based investment firm CriticalPoint Capital LLC in early 2017. England-based JD Sports acquired The Finish Line in June of this year.

Kirkendoll was a Finish Line board member for 12 years, before leaving the board to become JackRabbit’s CEO under The Finish Line.

The JackRabbit rebranding won’t affect the Blue Mile stores’ merchandise selection or their focus on the local running community, Kirkendoll said. “The only change is to the name on the door.”

Walmart has opened its first two pickup towers in the Indianapolis area—one at 10735 Pendleton Pike, and another at 9500 E. Highway 36 in Avon.

The 16-foot structures, which function like a vending machine, allow customers to pick up online purchases in the store. Store associates load purchases into the tower, and customers use their smart phones to scan a bar code that grants access to the items.

Walmart debuted pickup towers in 2017, and now offers them at about six of its 128 Indiana locations. It plans to add towers at additional Indiana stores in 2019.

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