Shirley and Rusty Jones have opened the metro-east area’s first Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy store in Fairview Heights, which will celebrate its grand opening on July 18. As the name implies, the couple sell an assortment of sodas and candies, some of which may remind people of their childhoods. Business writer Will Buss recently caught and kept up with the Joneses to talk about their new lives as franchisees:
How many kinds of soda and candy can you find in your store?
Rusty: “We have approximately 500 different kinds of soda. That’s not particularly 500 different flavors, but different kinds. We have about 2,000 different kinds of candy, anything from back to when you were a kid to something that is up to date. Most of this stuff is basically retro. We also have gifts that were famous when some of us were kids. We sell a lot of tins and posters, too.”
What led you to becoming franchisees?
Shirley: “We originally liked the concept of Rocket Fizz because it just kind of reminded us of the old mom-and-pop candy shop. We originally saw it on (the CBS reality show series) Undercover Boss, and both of us were looking at getting into some type of a franchise. This just kind of clicked for us. It is fun, entertaining and it was just something that you don’t hear about because it’s not around here.”
What were you doing before?
Rusty: “I work for the railroad, the Kansas City Southern Railroad.”
Shirley: “And I was an X-ray tech-EMT, so I’ve worked in ERs and urgent care. My last job that I left to do this was in urgent care, where I managed and did pretty much everything there. I had been in the medical field for over 20 years and finally it was like, ‘I just want to do something fun.’ I want to enjoy the kids. We are very much into kids, making them happy and laugh. We felt like this was a place that if you come in in a bad mood, you’re not going to leave in a bad mood. If you come in in a bad mood, you’ll leave happy.”
What have you enjoyed most about your new business?
Rusty: “Meeting everybody. People have been wonderful. The older people come in and say, ‘Wow, I haven’t seen this since I was a kid.’ The little kids see the stuff in here, like the poster of Elsa (from the Disney movie Frozen), they run up to the poster and get their picture taken with Elsa and they see all of the candy.”
Shirley: “It’s been the smiles. In less than a week, we have already made friends and that’s just from people walking by, coming in to see what we are. I’ve had adults say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t bring my child in here. They’ll go crazy.’ We want you to. We want them to go crazy. If they knock something over, we’ll pick it up. It’s no big deal. We want everybody, from 90 years old to 2 years old, to feel like kids in a candy shop because that’s what this is all about.”
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2526.
SHIRLEY AND RUSTY JONES
Job: Owners, Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy at 5915 N. Illinois St. in Fairview Heights, 618-641-9500
Outlook: “We felt like this was a place that if you come in in a bad mood, you’re not going to leave in a bad mood. ... You’ll leave happy.”