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From Layoff to Liquorice: West End Business Owner Creates Candy Store Amid Pandemic

Like many Alexandrians, Tonya Kemp faced a difficult 2020 early on when she lost her job in May. But out of that loss came a new project that became a new business: West End candy shop Rocket Fizz (1721 Centre Plaza).

Alexandria’s Rocket Fizz is a locally-owned franchise of the mostly-America based soda pop and candy shop chain.

“It’s been going well so far,” Kemp said. “Everyone’s been happy to have us here. It’s exciting to have a candy store in the area.”

Kemp said she lost her job on May 1 and wanted to work close to home. Kemp said she opened Rocket Fizz in her neighborhood on Dec. 11.

“So far most customers are from the area, but once news spreads we’re likely to get people from D.C. and other areas,” Kemps aid. “Most people are really excited, just really happy. We don’t get many cranky people in here, and that’s a good thing these days.”

In addition to candy, the store sells other novelties and trinkets. Kemp said the item that gets the most attention is the unique novelty signs.

Now, the store is gearing up for Valentine’s Day and Easter.

“We do have a cart especially set up with unique items for Valentine’s Day or could be themed for Valentine’s Day,” Kemp said. “Christmas is big for us, big for stocking stuffers, and Easter baskets are a big one as well. But in general I hope for more of a day to day business than just special occasions.”

Kemp said Rocket Fizz has given her a new passion to keep her busy as the pandemic goes on.

“It’s given me new motivations, definitely,” Kemp said. “I miss my job and I miss my collegues, but everyone does. This gets me out of the house and I’m not behind a computer all day.”

Photo via Rocket Fizz/Facebook

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