CARY — Bill Sallada is like a kid in a candy shop.
Lucky for him, he owns the store. Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop opened last month in Shoppes of Kildaire.
“It’s a mix of being overwhelmed and nostalgia of candy they saw years ago,” Sallada said. “This store is a unique experience.”
Sallada and his wife were visiting friends in southern California when they happened upon the business opportunity.
“Our friends took us to the original Rocket Fizz and we fell in love,” he said. “I love soda. I love all kinds of soda. I was in heaven.”
Cary’s Rocket Fizz is one of four stores on the East Coast and the only one in North Carolina.
Deciding on a soda at Rocket Fizz is not for the faint of heart: There are 430 bottles. From root beer to bacon, the flavors seem limitless.
Sallada has trouble narrowing down the choices for a visitor.
“Do you like fruit?” he asked, holding up a bottle of cherry pie soda.
He stopped at the red velvet cupcake soda before ticking off other possibilities: cookies and cream, pumpkin pie, Shirley Temple. The only licensed “Wizard of Oz” soda.
“This appeals to families,” Sallada said of Rocket Fizz. “They can come in and pick up a four-pack of different sodas to try for dinner.”
A virtual candy land, Rocket Fizz is stuffed with 1,200 kinds of candy, including 80 flavors of taffy. Like in old-time candy stores, the sweets are mostly sold individually.
“When people walk in, we want them to be shocked in a good way,” Sallada said. “People walk around for 20 minutes and still miss half the stuff.”
Although all that candy is a child’s dream, the big kids make the biggest fuss as they relive sweet memories.
“The adults get more excited than the kids,” Sallada said.
Vintage reproduction tin signs and movie posters cover the walls of Rocket Fizz. Novelty and gag gifts are sprinkled in amid the candy and soda.
To personalize a favorite soda for a party or wedding reception, customers can create their own labels. Custom gift baskets are also available.
Sallada’s first venture into retail has exceeded his expectations.
“I’m excited to be here,” he said. “I stay late because I love it. I love Cary. There’s a good crowd here.”
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