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Rocket Fizz manager Ryan Wheeler with owners Heather and Tom Holmer

Rocket Fizz Comes to Main St.

Classic and wacky candy in WSG's old spot

by Micheline Maynard

From the October, 2021 issue

With WSG gone from Main St., an even more colorful tenant has taken its spot.

In August, Tom and Heather Holmer opened Rocket Fizz, a national franchise that specializes in candy, soda pop, and all kinds of gifts and memorabilia.

This is the third Rocket Fizz for the Holmers, who also have stores in their native Kalamazoo and Traverse City. Tom says that when they looked for a third location, Ann Arbor topped their wish list.

"It's really about the places that have a cool vibe," he says. "And when you look across the state, those places are Kalamazoo, Traverse City, and Ann Arbor."

When their search for an Ann Arbor location began in early 2020, "we really, really wanted to be on Main Street," he says, but couldn't find an appropriate space.

In March 2020, they were about to sign a lease on State St. when they heard that the NBA had canceled its season because of the pandemic. Michigan soon implemented a statewide stay-at-home order, and the Holmers put their Ann Arbor plans on hold.

By the time they began looking again, the WSG space was available. "The silver lining was that we got our store on Main Street, where we wanted to be," Tom says.

Many visitors to Rocket Fizz are wowed by the selection, which trounces what older townies might remember from Drake's Sandwich Shop.

The Holmers sell more than 1,500 varieties of packaged candy, from old-school favorites such as Clark Bars and Necco Wafers, to flavored crickets (yes, bugs). There's a selection of Canadian candy-Tom recommends the Kit Kats-as well as favorites from Britain, European countries, and Asia.

The store sells 500 types of soda, most of it flavored with sugar rather than corn syrup, and rows of wrapped bulk candy, like saltwater taffy.

Tom says they're finding that their Ann Arbor demographic crosses all age groups. "Kids are coming in and having a ball, and it's the highlight of our week," he says. Parents

...continued below...

and grandparents, meanwhile, get to introduce younger people to the candies they enjoyed growing up.

Maybe that's why the best seller by far is candy cigarettes, which cost $1 a package, up from the twenty-five cents Tom remembers paying when he was a kid.

Interestingly, Halloween isn't a big season for Rocket Fizz, since most people shop at grocery and drug stores for trick-or-treat candy. But he expects things will really rev up around the winter holidays.

He plans to stock traditional ribbon candy and filled bonbons, but he also will offer candy canes in mouth-puckering pickle, as well as macaroni-and-cheese and kale.

Tom says patrons are welcome to purchase as little as one piece of wrapped candy, which goes for fifteen cents, but most people buy about five items and spend around $15. For bulk candy, patrons are welcome to fill a small bag at $8.99 or a large bag for $10.99, and he says he wants them to get their money's worth.

"We will send you back on a walk of shame if we don't think it's full enough," he says. "We want those bags to be obnoxiously full."

Rocket Fizz, 306 S. Main, (734) 929-5484. Mon.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. noon-8 p.m.     (end of article)

[Originally published in October, 2021.]


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