New snack shop brings world of tastes like squid-flavored potato chips to Indianapolis

·5 min read

For snack aficionados looking to go beyond cheese-flavored chips or cherry-flavored colas, a new Indianapolis shop might be the spot.

Cousins Sergio Salazar and Ruben Olivares, each 21, opened the shop Nap Snacks at 1323 W. 86th St. to sell imported snacks and drinks.

The products aren’t entirely unfamiliar to Indy-area consumers.

Most are versions of well-known U.S.-based brands only available in non-U.S. markets.

Think apple cinnamon Kit Kat bars, roasted cumin lamb-flavored Lay’s potato chips, and yogurt and Japanese white grape Fanta soda.

Many products in the 1,000-square-foot shop are from China, but there are also Japanese and European imports, and they plan to bring in items from Mexico.

“We’re Mexican. How can we not have Mexican selections?” Olivares said.

Tea-flavored Skittles, squid-flavored chips at Nap Snacks

Novel flavors and limited edition treats get space on the shelves hosting the likes of Dr Pepper- flavored cotton candy, raspberry-flavored Pepsi cola, Ritz crackers with vanilla and chocolate cream and boxes of cereal like Post’s Tim Hortons cafe mocha cereal.

Skittles in various forms and flavors are popular. A fruit tea pack from China has lemon black tea, lychee black tea, passion fruit green tea, peach oolong tea, and grapefruit jasmine tea.

These are some of the chips for sale in Nap Snacks, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022 at 1323 W. 86th St. Cousins Ruben Olivares and Sergio Salazar opened the store to sell imported snacks and drinks. Many of the items are common brands like Oreos, Lays and Fanta, but the flavors and forms are not sold in the U.S. These Lay's chips are grilled squid flavor.
These are some of the chips for sale in Nap Snacks, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022 at 1323 W. 86th St. Cousins Ruben Olivares and Sergio Salazar opened the store to sell imported snacks and drinks. Many of the items are common brands like Oreos, Lays and Fanta, but the flavors and forms are not sold in the U.S. These Lay's chips are grilled squid flavor.

And canned energy drinks carry images of Pac-Man, Dragon Ball Z and Rick & Morty characters.

“These are things you can't get at your regular gas station,” Salazar said.

None of it is cheap.

An individual package of Skittles costs $7-$8. Chips — grilled squid and roasted chicken wing are among the selections — sell for $6-$10. A popular white peach Fanta soda, in an 8.45-ounce can, costs $5.

Meeting demand

The prices haven’t scared off customers who otherwise would have had to resort to travel, friends or family living abroad, Amazon or other internet sites to procure some of the tastes.

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The shop opened on Jan. 15. By the next day, Salazar had to trek to New York to replenish the stock and was back on Monday.

Some buyers rely on pictures and translation apps to determine flavors as the packaging is mostly in foreign languages. Others are more adventurous and more into just trying anything different, the retailers say.

A shopper looks for items in Nap Snacks, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022 at 1323 W. 86th St. Cousins Ruben Olivares and Sergio Salazar opened the store to sell imported snacks and drinks. Many of the items are common brands like Oreos, Lays and Fanta, but the flavors and forms are not sold in the U.S.
A shopper looks for items in Nap Snacks, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022 at 1323 W. 86th St. Cousins Ruben Olivares and Sergio Salazar opened the store to sell imported snacks and drinks. Many of the items are common brands like Oreos, Lays and Fanta, but the flavors and forms are not sold in the U.S.

But folks might not want to become too attached to a find. Often, the inventory changes based on what’s available with many items being single runs or those that are repeatedly discontinued and revived.

“We’re always going to switch it up,” Salazar said. “One product can be out for two to three months and then you have to wait a year until it comes out again.”

Americans are increasingly wanting access to such foods produced for markets outside of the U.S., said Ricardo Montanez, co-owner and CEO of Sublime Pop, which sells imported beverages and snacks in Turlock, California.

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Up until mid-2021 the company had sold only wholesale, shipping to larger cities in California and outside of the state. It added a retail operation after the public continued to come into the store asking about its products from Asia, Europe, Mexico and Russia.

“It’s foodies and people who just like to try something different,” Montanez said. “And then there's people that travel and then they taste something over there. And then they want something similar, so they come looking for it.”

Feeding on entrepreneurship

Sergio Salazar, left, and Ruben Olivares show some product from ttheir new business, Nap Snacks, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022 at 1323 W. 86th St. The cousins opened the store to sell imported snacks and drinks. Many of the items are common brands like Oreos, Lays and Fanta, but the flavors and forms are not sold in the U.S.
Sergio Salazar, left, and Ruben Olivares show some product from ttheir new business, Nap Snacks, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022 at 1323 W. 86th St. The cousins opened the store to sell imported snacks and drinks. Many of the items are common brands like Oreos, Lays and Fanta, but the flavors and forms are not sold in the U.S.

Salazar is an entrepreneur at heart, starting to sell sneakers as a middle school student, always clearing a 20% to 30% profit.

The high school dropout credits a sixth-month stint in a military-based youth training program — a consequence of repeated involvement in incidents that displeased his mother — with imposing the discipline needed to eventually open a brick-and-mortar SNKR Plus footwear store in 2021.

“When I got out, it had changed me. I felt different. I wasn't trying to go back to the life I was living,” he said.

Salazar hit on the idea for the snack shop when an ad for a similar business in New York popped up on his social media account scroll.

These are some of the snacks for sale in Nap Snacks, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022 at 1323 W. 86th St. Cousins Ruben Olivares and Sergio Salazar opened the store to sell imported snacks and drinks. Many of the items are common brands like Oreos, Lays and Fanta, but the flavors and forms are not sold in the U.S. These are Oreo strawberry wafer rolls.
These are some of the snacks for sale in Nap Snacks, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022 at 1323 W. 86th St. Cousins Ruben Olivares and Sergio Salazar opened the store to sell imported snacks and drinks. Many of the items are common brands like Oreos, Lays and Fanta, but the flavors and forms are not sold in the U.S. These are Oreo strawberry wafer rolls.

“I used to buy these snacks when I went to Los Angeles,” he said. “I thought an exotic, foreign snack store in Indianapolis would be a great idea.”

Meanwhile, his cousin was also considering starting a business selling imported snacks from vending machines across the area.

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Within six weeks, the two came together, found wholesalers, invested about $30,000 and opened the snack shop in a former CBD space.

“My mind is like that. I'm young and life’s too short, especially nowadays,” Salazar said of the fast pace. "I wanted to take advantage.”

Cousins Ruben Olivares and Sergio Salazar recently opened this new business, Nap Snacks, at 1323 W. 86th St. Imported snacks and drinks are sold at the store. Many of the items are common brands like Oreos, Lays and Fanta, but the flavors and forms are not sold in the U.S. Photo taken Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022.
Cousins Ruben Olivares and Sergio Salazar recently opened this new business, Nap Snacks, at 1323 W. 86th St. Imported snacks and drinks are sold at the store. Many of the items are common brands like Oreos, Lays and Fanta, but the flavors and forms are not sold in the U.S. Photo taken Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022.

Curious passersby and those leaving the bar next door are among those intrigued by the new store with graffiti and murals on the walls. One is dedicated to Rick & Morty.

For a second at Nap Snacks, customers could also buy sneakers. Salazar had brought over some products from his sneaker store in Plainfield. They quickly sold.

Plans are to open a second snacks shop by July, likely on the south side of downtown.

Hours are 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

Contact IndyStar reporter Cheryl V. Jackson at cheryl.jackson@indystar.com or 317-444-6264. Follow her on Twitter: @cherylvjackson.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Nap Snacks offers world's flavors to Indianapolis from familiar brands