COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A retired Army soldier said he hopes to inspire other veterans through a new store he opened this week in Colorado Springs.
Rocket Fizz, a national chain of about 50 stores, specializes in a nearly-limitless variety of soda and candy. The chain also sells signs, posters and novelty items.
"I got very interested in doing something that made people smile and happy," said owner Steve Benavides. "There's a lot of hate in the world, and I've seen a lot of that."
The store is in the University Village shopping center on North Nevada Avenue in Colorado Springs.
Benavides, 49, retired three months ago after a 31-year career in the military. His grandfather served in World War II, his father served in Vietnam and he has a son who's also in the military.
Benavides said during military assignments in California and Nevada, he often took his kids to Rocket Fizz stores. He said the idea of running a store himself seemed exciting and he was encouraged by the company's president.
"They gave me a discount on the franchise fee," Benavides said. "There are all kinds of opportunities out there for veterans. This is a perfect example."
Benavides said the business is great for him because he uses leadership, responsibility, attention to detail and other skills he learned in the military.
"Those skills come in handy when you stock 500 kinds of soda and 2,000 kinds of candy," he said.
Emilee Spady, a customer, said she likes being able to buy sweets that aren't widely available but appreciates Benavides being a veteran.
"I've got family in the military," she said. "So this is meaningful to me."
Benavides said the store also allows him to spend more time with his family.
"I'm very thankful," he said. "This is my way of giving back to the community."
His customers are glad he chose a tasty way to do it.