(Editor’s Note: This story was republished in part at Better.net in alignment with a partnership between the two nonprofits: The Record Community News and Make it Better Media Group.)
Tucked snugly into a front corner of historic Winnetka building The Laundry, Fizz & Pop Soda Shop transmits a comforting aura through its large windows that recalls an old-fashioned candy store and soda fountain that once occupied every downtown corridor.
Owner Leigh Anne Beath said that she wanted to create a welcoming space with the store, “somewhere friendly and comforting” for families and children.
Fizz & Pop, which opened in mid-February at 566 Chestnut St. Unit 16, calls itself an “organic soda concoction bar.” With seven soda flavors and a lemonade on draft and about 30 syrups to infuse, the store offers customers the chance to “concoct” their own fantasy beverage. Syrup flavors range from fruity to exotic, such as cinnamon or rosemary.
Any soda can be made into a float with vanilla ice cream, and employees make whipped cream for a topper as well.
Beath — who has lived all over the country and the world and has a professional background in retail and sales — emphasizes helping visitors choose a combination, talking them through the soda options and asking about personal preferences, such as sweet versus tart.
A menu on the wall also includes suggested flavor combinations. Under each soda flavor are several names of concoctions along with a list of the syrups added to the soda to make them. “Camp Horseshoe” has a root beer base with chocolate and marshmallow syrups, while “Bramble” combines lemonade with blackberry and honey additions.
“But many people are experimenting, which is what I want,” Beath said.
Beath chooses her employees, whom she affectionately calls “soda jerks,” carefully. She said they must be friendly and comfortable chatting with and advising customers of all ages.
“(They) have to be able to negotiate a mob of kids,” Beath said.
And it’s been working.
Mothers of young children have told Beath that she and her employees are approachable, which is her goal. The shop is dog-friendly as well. Peanut-butter-whipped-cream “pup cups” are available for canine customers.
With Fizz & Pop, Beath also supports family-owned and women-owned small businesses.
Large glass jars are perched here and there in the shop, each stocked with enticing treats. The organic sodas come from Maine Root Soda, a Texas company. Beath has sourced many old-fashioned candies and packaged chips and snacks from midwestern firms.
She tries to stock “things you can’t find on Amazon.” Tubs of cotton candy in all colors are a popular item. Flavors include pancakes and syrup, pickle, bacon, and dreamsicle, among others. The cotton candy comes from a company called Chocolate Story Book, while fancy rice crispy treats come from The Crispery in Ohio.
Beath said that business has steadily grown since the February debut. She believes her timing was good, and that longer days and better weather along with pandemic weariness have increased foot traffic by her windows.
Word of mouth and support from the Village of Winnetka have helped, she said. Also important? Her proximity to Carleton Washburne Junior High School. Students from Washburn and New Trier High School walk or bike past and stop in after school, bringing their friends.
“There will always be sixth-graders,” Beath said.
Beath, who recently returned to the North Shore from Texas, felt that Fizz & Pop would work in Winnetka — and at The Laundry specifically — because “Winnetka is such a huge family community.”The neighborhood is a destination for families and children, who consistently walk or cycle by, and the shop’s large windows offer plenty of exposure to Chestnut Street.
By summer 2023, Beath hopes to have a small van or truck to bring Fizz & Pop products to other locations, enabling her to cater birthdays or other events. For now, customers can purchase 64-ounce glass growlers of their favorite soda combinations for an event. Beath is also developing goody bags and other party necessaries for the shop to offer. Eventually, she hopes to add more locations in the area.
Fizz & Pop is open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. It is closed Mondays. You can reach out to the shop on Instagram.
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