Tracey Strassner, along with business partner Jennifer Meyer, opened up Flat Creek’s Sunchaser Market, 2301 TN 82 South, four years ago with the intention to “serve food, fun, and our …
Tracey Strassner, along with business partner Jennifer Meyer, opened up Flat Creek’s Sunchaser Market, 2301 TN 82 South, four years ago with the intention to “serve food, fun, and our community.”
The name “sunchaser” comes from a time when Strassner was sitting on the beach in Fort Myers watching the sun rise and the sun set all from one spot. “I was thinking that doesn’t happen very often,” she said.
Then, when purchasing their 130-acre farm in Flat Creek, the same thing happened—you could see the sun rise and the sun set all from the same spot on the front porch. So the name stuck.
There have been many learning curves for Strassner in the four years Sunchaser has been open—like inventory, pricing, and going back to manual processing while working with local vendors.
The first year was rough, Strassner admits—even hearing “chatter” that the business would never make it. But consistency paid off.
“I think we’ve built a good brand name. We call it the ‘Sunchaser family’…because you take care of the people where you can. I think it’s crystalizing my thought that it’s about the people and the connection,” said Strassner.
Strassner grew up in Maryland, outside of D.C., in a coastal area rich in tobacco farming. Living close to the nation’s capital meant roaming the historic streets and sitting among the monuments was part of everyday life.
Following her tech-based and telecommunications career fields, Strassner was able to move from Connecticut to Florida and finally to Tennessee, working for the Home Shopping Network, Aetna and then Asurion. She said the last 10 years of her career was about building a plan, selling the technology, getting the team ready to implement it, and then doing it again.
With such a background, she can safely say she never intended to open and run a market at this point. But her background in planning comes into play often.
“I always wanted to own a small business…but with everything going on at the time, I never did that,” Strassner said. “But I happened to come by here when we were driving to the farm, and saw that this was for sale…My five-year plan happened five years too soon.”
But Strassner said the community has opened up in ways she didn’t expect.
When opening Sunchaser, Strassner and Meyer wanted it to be an outlet for fresh food and an outlet for being a part of the community.
Many might classify rural villages around Bedford as “food deserts.” Strassner said she was surprised by just how many regulars came multiple times a week for their fresh breakfast, lunch, and dinner offerings.
As one who loves to cook, Strassner also loves the creativity of coming up with new recipes. As they try to come up with more signature dishes, Strassner said they’re playing around with things like homemade pickles and whiskey onions for a whiskey burger. And in addition to their savory quiches and classic ham and biscuits, they have cinnamon roll waffles, salted caramel banana bread, and seasonal tomato gravy.
Plus, they hope to continue reaching out to local vendors, like Purdom’s burgers and BBQ and the Barking Pig BBQ, to make Flat Creek a BBQ hub. "We have some amazing BBQ happening in Flat Creek and these guys also do some incredible things for the community as well," said Strassner.
Outside of food, they’re also one of the few stops around that still has 100 percent gas. Depending on the season, they’ll have a line of ag equipment filling up at the old station.
“What’s been interesting about that is we’re on the path to Jack Daniels and Uncle Nearest—corvettes and motorcycles stop in to get that premium gas,” said Strassner.
All this has really turned Sunchaser into a “community hub.” For example, Strassner recalled how during the power outages earlier this month, many people came to the store to try and figure out what was going on.
“The memories are fading but there’s a need to bring that back,” said Strassner. The key, she says, is to bring in the younger generations, which they hope to do with hosting movie nights, corn hole games, and Easter egg hunts and visits from Santa during the holidays - which they are hoping to do more of this year.
Every day is a full day, but coming from her previous work environment, she said she’s used to the pace.
Plus, what Sunchaser has become wouldn’t be possible without the great support she’s received from their Sunchaser family.
“I didn’t realize how much the connection in working with people was needed,” she said. In this way, you create the community and support the community.
"I’ve lived in several different communities and states over my life, and no where else has it ever felt more like home than Flat Creek," Strassner finished.
For more information and updates on events, visit their Facebook page at Sunchaser Market Shelbyville.