If you’re heading downtown, watching this might just save you from getting a $40 parking ticket.
Rocket Fizz, a store that blends a vast selection of soda pop flavors and candies from yesteryear, all wrapped in a colorful and nostalgic motif, will make its debut at 1236 Broadway in Columbus on Friday.
“We’ve had a lot of interest around, a lot of people just stopping in and saying hi and seeing what we have,” store manager Melissa Johnson said earlier in the week as final preparations for opening were being made. “Kids and teenagers will love this stuff, and people my age in their 40s will love it and come in and say, ‘Oh, my gosh. I remember that as a kid and I haven’t seen it years.’”
Branden Lisi, a partner in the business with Jon Cato, described Rocket Fizz as a soda pop and candy shop with different gifts and gags. Aside from the sweet treats and drinks, there are novelty items that include humorous signs lining the brick walls of the store, ready for purchasing.
“It’s definitely got a hint of nostalgia associated with it, especially the taffy and some of the vintage brands of cola that you want find at any other places,” he said. “We have about 480 different types of soda.”
The Columbus store is among 90 Rocket Fizz locations in the U.S. The franchise chain was founded in 2007 and has spread with its formula of tasty and sweet items, some of the candy dating as far back as the 1960s.
Lisi said an adventure trip with friends to Columbus for a trip on the Chattahoochee River whitewater course planted the seed for what is now a new business in the downtown area.
“We came in the afternoon because we wanted some of the big water,” he said. “And when we got done we walked up to have dinner afterward and they had a lot of music playing and there was a whole lot of stuff going on. It was a really pretty August night about a year and a half ago, and I just walked up and down the street while the kids were doing what they were doing. I was just impressed.”
Those moments led to more here for Lisi and Cato, who were considering a Rocket Fizz store in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta. The whitewater trip on a summer night stuck in his head, however, so they visited again last March and liked the “vibe” they were witnessing. Rocket Fizz in Columbus was on its way to being born.
The retailer will join a burgeoning 1200 block of downtown that had languished through the years, but now is showing a resurgence. That block now includes a Kilwins confectionery and ice cream shop, The Simple Greek restaurant, Nonic Beer Bar & Kitchen, Uptown Vietnam Cuisine, 501 Salon Experience, Ayden Lounge, Mr. Ed’s Country Cooking, Big Dog Fleet Feet and Uptown Wine & Spirits.
Johnson said Rocket Fizz will open at 10 a.m. Friday, although the store will be testing the waters, so to speak, to determine the best operating hours moving forward. She did say the likely opening time on Sundays will be 11 a.m.