Rocket Fizz owners find sweet spot in Broken Arrow for their vintage soda-and-candy store

Source - Tulsa World
Published - Dec 4, 2017
Original Article

Rocket Fizz owners find sweet spot in Broken Arrow for their vintage soda-and-candy store

Need something to smile about? Your sweet tooth acting up? Need inspiration for a Christmas gift?

Walk inside the new Rocket Fizz store in Broken Arrow’s Rose District and enter a world of colas, taffy, gag gifts and, maybe more than anything, a colorful blast from the past.

When Pam Shelnut and her husband, Scott, were considering buying into the soda-and-candy concept, they toured existing Rocket Fizz stores, and they were sold quickly.

Sold to the point that this location, which opened Nov. 18, is the first of three stores they plan to open in the Tulsa area.

“We would walk in and see all the candy we ate as kids and all the nostalgia with the tin signs, and the overwhelming number of sodas, from the odd to the silly, and it just brought back our childhoods,” Pam Shelnut said.

That would be candy in extra-large sizes, as well as ones you haven’t seen in some time, and that would be sodas ranging from multiple varieties of root beer to “Barf Cola,” which advertises that it has “great chunky flavor.”

Inside the store, among customers young and old alike, there are smiles all around.

“You know, there are a lot of things going on in the world that aren’t happy, and when you walk in here, it’s whimsy. Who can be mad in a place that takes you back to your childhood?” Shelnut asked.

“I just keep hearing customers say, ‘Oh my gosh, do you remember these?’ It brings back good memories.”

A visit to the store showed a stock of edible items in bacon flavor (even candy canes) and bulk candy that you can load up in a sack; concert posters from the 1950s (see Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash for $1.25) to the 1990s; and toys ranging from mood rings to imitation dog poop.

“Anything poop-related has been very popular, strangely enough,” said Shelnut, with a laugh. Her husband was planning to avoid carrying poop toys, as well as poop-shaped erasers and pen holders.

“But (Rocket Fizz) said, ‘Oh, you have to have everything poop,’ and yep, everything poop is selling. Poop is selling like hotcakes.”

The couple, married 20 years and living in Glenpool, was looking for something new in an occupation — he’d been in transportation for years, her with a call center — and they found it while watching a rerun of an “Undercover Boss” TV episode.

The show featured the co-founder of Rocket Fizz Rob Powells working jobs undercover at Rocket Fizz, and the Shelnuts “fell in love with him as the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with” and with the concept.

“We’d never heard of Rocket Fizz, but the more we researched it, the more we loved it,” she said. “We started talking with Rob for a month before (the franchise agreement), and he was the person we thought he would be. We were pleased that our gut instinct was correct.”

The walkability, nightlife and weekend events in the Rose District influenced the choosing of the Broken Arrow store, Shelnut said, which is behind Fleet Feet in a location that was previously The Painted Lyon.

That means people coming in day and night, from nearby restaurants and other spots, with Rocket Fizz currently open until 10 p.m. six nights a week during the holiday season and 8 p.m. Sundays.

The couple is looking at Tulsa locations (they’ve considered Cherry Street), but for now, they’re focused on a Dec. 16 visit from Santa at the store, setting a grand opening in the future and meeting the demand during the Christmas season.

“How cool is this place?” was heard more than once on a recent visit among guests, which included a 3-foot boy walking up to the register with a 2-foot lollipop, putting it on the counter and announcing, “I want to buy this!”

He likely wasn’t the last child leaving Rocket Fizz this month without a treasured item, responding with a “But Mom!” and being told, “We’re getting just a couple of things today, and we’ll come back soon.”

Such exhilaration may be the effect on your inner child as well.