I love sweets. When I was a teen, I would go to the local corner market, buy up about $10 worth of candy and eat it all in about an hour.
So when I stumbled upon RocketFizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop in the EpiCentre recently, it brought me back to those days.
And that’s what owner Rhett Batanides, 35, and his business partner Bill Sallada want.
“When our customer walks into the store, they will see generations of candy that they haven’t seen in a long time,” said Betanides. “I can’t tell you how many times I have had people tell me they are in heaven or this is amazing. They’re enthralled by what they see.”
Betanides, a Charlotte native, spent six years as an active duty U.S. Air Force pilot flying C-130 missions in Afghanistan. After leaving the service and getting into commercial real estate, Betanides eventually got with the owner of RocketFizz, who was looking to franchise his stores from their California base of operations.
“It was a two-year process trying to sell the EpiCentre on the concept,” said Betanides. “We waited until the last second to remove the tint from the windows. People are consistently coming and saying, ‘Wow, how did this happen, where did this come from?’ It’s like something landed here that they never saw coming.”
RocketFizz, which opened July 29, occupies at little more than 1,800 square feet of street level space across from Blackfinn Tavern.
“You have a lot of tourists, you have the new hotels going up, we decided this was the perfect spot for us,” said Betanides.
The store is stocked with 500 different kinds of soda, from the run-of-the-mill to the truly mind bending like bacon, sweet corn, pickle and peanut butter and jelly flavors.
RocketFizz also carries more 30,000 varieties of candy, which can be bought by the bag. This is where the magic happens. Whatever you can think of, RocketFizz most likely stocks, from a large variety of toffees, to hard shell candy, licorice, gumdrops, lollipops and international candy, it’s all here.
When I was in the shop, Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb came through and stamped his approval on the place with a basket full of sweet treats.
RocketFizz also carries novelty gifts, sports trading cards and gag gifts.
“This is not just a child’s concept,” said Betanides. “Anyone from a kid to 20 to 120 can find something from their childhood. It’s that same moment with every person. We’re not just selling candy and soda, it’s bringing happiness by way of nostalgia.”
RocketFizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop: 210 E. Trade St. (in the EpiCentre).