Rocket Fizz is a new franchise that began in California in 2007. It has made its way across the nation, and the second store to open in Texas lies here on 4129 South Broadway Ave.
“We have the largest soda pop and candy selection in the universe,” said Franchise Owner Steve Farmer. “We are all about Americana … and nostalgia. Its awesome seeing the older people that come in here that remember the old-style candy store that they had when they were kids. Now, we’re just kind of bringing it back for this generation; kind of reliving the past in a way that the present can appreciate it.”
Rocket Fizz is home to over 500 flavors of soda and 1,000s different types of candy. 95 percent of the sodas are made with pure cane sugar. Most of the flavors come from companies across the nation, and some are even imported from Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Rocket Fizz is well-known for their vast array of candy, ranging from 100 different salt water taffy flavors, to hard-to-find retro candies like Bun Bars, Idaho Spuds, and Abba-Zabas.
Along with their confections, they sell vintage tins, television and reproduction concert posters, whacky gag gifts and life-size cardboard cut-outs.
“The selection, the lights, the colors, the smells, the sounds, the candy and everything … It’s eye candy … It catches your eye and you want to know what this place is all about,” Mr. Farmer said. “It’s so appealing to see everything because … especially in Tyler, we’ve never seen anything put together like this with so much variety.”
Both the mother and son see how the store is able to brighten up people’s day just by coming in and taking a look.
“It’s one of those places that you can’t help but feel good and leave smiling,” said Laura Farmer, Steve Farmer’s mother and Rocket Fizz marketing and media relations coordinator. “I love hearing the laughter and people just stopping by and discovering it.”
“We’ve had crabby customers come in here, but when they leave, they’re in a total different mood, said Mr. Farmer. “So it’s really cool to touch someone’s life like that, just a little bit everyday.”
Customers, many of them being TJC and UT Tyler students, go because of its uniqueness in looks and flavors.
“There’s like every type of flavor of soda here, and I like soda,” said Jonathan Baggs, TJC student taking his general studies. “It’s just different.”
“The atmosphere is the coolest thing (about Rocket Fizz), because its got all the old-time posters all over the walls,” said Kimberly Powers, theatre major. “You’ve got sodas just lining the walls with bacon soda and ranch soda and then classic Coca Cola …and they’ve got like Hello Kitty energy drinks. It’s really cool.”
Mr. Farmer was born and raised in Dallas. He attended Tyler Junior College in 1999, which he recalled as being “The best four years of his life.” He graduated in 2003 with a Business degree and transferred to UT Tyler and eventually graduated there with a Bachelor’s degree in management in 2006. Rocket Fizz is the second business he’s started on his own. He saw a Rocket Fizz store in 2010 in Pasadena, CA and knew ever since then that he “Had to have one.”
“He was really strong on the idea,” said Laura Farmer. “I asked him what he wanted for Christmas that December. He said he wanted a plane ticket to L.A. to talk to the founders. He was that serious.”
Although it only took him two and a half years to get the business started, Mr. Farmer was denied funding from five banks, and three times declined by one in particular. He tried hard to be the first one to put a Rocket Fizz in Texas.
“I would actually lose sleep about it … I would seriously lay there like, ‘Oh my God, what if someone beats me to this. I want to be the first one. I want to be the first one,” Mr. Farmer said.
Someone else did get first dibs on owning a Rocket Fizz store in Texas, located in Houston.
The owners saw that Mr. Farmer wanted to own a Rocket Fizz and offered him a managing position for their store. He ran the store there for 10 months and then was able to get a bank to fund his store in Tyler. Farmer’s Rocket Fizz dream came to reality on Sept. 6, 2013.
“I don’t even consider it work when I come in here. I just open the door, turn on the lights and have a ball,” Mr. Farmer said.
Mr. Farmer wants to keep Rocket Fizz as lively and outrageous as possible, with plenty of events to keep customers wanting more.
A Halloween party will be hosted at Rocket Fizz on Saturday, Oct. 26, featuring live music, an appearance by Halloween Harvey, actor from the “Terror Nights” haunted
house, a face painter and a costume contest giving away “Terror Nights” tickets for the winners. Plus lots of candy and free soda samples!