Steven Miller likes interacting with people, and has found his niche at Sunshine Market in downtown Topeka. He and his wife Marcia purchased the former Triple L Market in October of 2021.
“My mother worked here and she liked it here,” Steven Miller says.
Once when he was laid off from his job, Miller worked at a market and enjoyed the job. When the opportunity came to purchase the market, he thought it was the right move for his family. In fact, he says it “was right up my alley.”
He gave up his organic dairy farm and turned his attention to running the store on a full-time basis. While he says he is still learning the ropes, Miller says he is happy there.
“I get motivated off the energy of other people,” he says. “Farming is a great occupation, but with the personality I had, I wilted being alone.”
His days now are filled with conversations with shoppers, suppliers and others who come through the doors of Sunshine Market. This was the name of the store when Miller was growing up three miles west of the store’s downtown location. He now lives three miles east of the store.
The name Sunshine Market also includes the couple’s initials and it was an immediate suggestion from family members. He says it simply felt like the right name.
The store carries a variety of grocery items for the local community. Miller stocks organic produce, with plans to expand that to locally grown selections when the growing season resumes next year. He carries locally made maple syrup, honey, locally roasted coffee and local organic milk.
There is a selection of fresh meats, bulk food, 10 to 12 different types of flour, candies, cheeses, snack foods, boxed cereals and other convenience items, as well as handmade chocolate candies. It is intended to be a place for the local community to come for personalized service.
Sunshine Market has products a customer would need to make a meal or take care of their home. While selections are limited because of space, Miller says he can offer personalized service.
“I cannot compete with the big stores,” Miller says. “The people who come in here are on a first-name basis with us. They know me and I know them.”
Most of his customers are from the surrounding Amish community. He is seeing traffic from non-Amish people too.
“The purpose of this store was to be a servant to the community,” Miller says.
He encourages his customers to let him know if they would like the store to carry a product.
“I will try to get that in,” he says.
Miller employs two full-time employees and six part-time workers. Business is brisk and the story stays busy.
“The workers that are here have to work hard,” he says. “I appreciate that.”
Miller is hoping to rearrange the store’s spaces to make it more efficient and organized. That is a project for the future.
He is also hoping to hand off the store to his children someday. The Millers have eight children, ranging in age from 2 to 14.
A store like his fills a need in the community because local families want to support local businesses and prefer to know who is in charge. Customers recognize Miller as the owner and that is an advantage he has – and one that he says his customers appreciate.
His customers know he is willing to work with them, whether to stock a product they want or simply to help as needed.
“I know what I have an interest in seeing here, but I don’t know what interests a customer,” Miller says. “If someone wants something and can’t find it, I want them to come and ask me.”
Sunshine Market is located at 120 South Main Street in Topeka. For more information, call the store at 260-593-3002.