Backstory: Rocket Fizz owner capitalizing on hobby of old-school candy and soda

Source - News & Observer
Published - April 27, 2015
Original Article

Backstory: Rocket Fizz owner capitalizing on hobby of old-school candy and soda

RALEIGH - Until this month, people in search of booger-flavored jelly beans, cotton candy soda or retro candy bars had to go to Cary to get their fix.

But now there’s a Raleigh option. Rocket Fizz, a candy and soda franchise, recently opened in the Quail Corners shopping center on Falls of Neuse Road in North Raleigh.

The store features a selection of 500 glass-bottled sodas, 106 kinds of saltwater taffy and more than 2,000 kinds of candy.

And that’s just what fit on the sales floor, Rocket Fizz owner Bill Sallada said.

“This is one of the only stores kids won’t come in and touch everything because they’re so overwhelmed,” he said.

The store hasn’t had an official grand opening, and the permanent sign hasn’t arrived, but candy and soda enthusiasts have already found it, Sallada said.

Sallada opened North Carolina’s first Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop in western Cary in February 2014. He decided to expand to North Raleigh to accommodate families who were making the drive for unique sweets

It cost about $50,000 to purchase franchise rights and another $150,000 to start the Cary business, Sallada said. The costs were about the same for the new Raleigh store.

He said he puts profits from the stores back into the business, and the larger Rocket Fizz company helps Sallada connect with vendors that provide the vintage candy and decorations for the store.

Sallada, 32, who lives in Holly Springs, also co-owns a for-profit computer education school in Raleigh. He runs both Rocket Fizz stores for fun.

“It’s a weird hobby,” he said.

Typically, he wakes up early for his full-time job. He spends most afternoons, evenings and weekends at Rocket Fizz.

He doesn’t mind the time commitment. Rocket Fizz is as much a store for grown-ups as it is for children.

Adults are often drawn to the vintage decorations and candy they haven’t seen since childhood, Sallada said.

He said he’s picked up enough information from customers at the Cary store to help older folks find their favorite childhood candy.

Rocket Fizz carries several hundred flavors of soda, including its own line. Options include ranch dressing, bacon and buffalo wing flavors.

For less-adventurous types, the store boasts more than 75 kinds of root beer.

The soda selection was one of the first things that attracted Sallada when he visited the original Rocket Fizz location in California a few years ago.

“The first time I went in there, I’d forgotten there was even candy because I love the soda so much,” Sallada said. “It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”