When it comes to soda (or "pop", as we like to call it in Minnesota), the choices that come to mind among most are usually the monoliths: Pepsi or Coke, Mountain Dew or Mello Yello, and so on. Bubbling under the surface of the soft drink industry is an expansive craft soda world, filled with hundreds of flavors with inventive names, including some made right here in Minnesota. One Downtown Duluth business is putting those craft options in the spotlight.

Fizzy Waters set up shop at their initial location in April of 2013, opening up in a cozy space in Duluth's Canal Park, in a space along Canal Park Drive. With such a vibrant and diverse craft beer scene in the Duluth area, owners Susan and Steve felt like a craft soda store would be a good compliment to the beverage industry in the Twin Ports.

Where did the name "Fizzy Waters" Come From?

"It was definitely a brain storming collaboration. We knew that we wanted a name that described our products, and included the experience of being on the North Shore!"

What kind of craft flavors does Fizzy Waters carry, and how do they pick them?

TSM Duluth
TSM Duluth

As the crew prepared to open the doors, they set out to carry at least one product from everyone's childhood, as well as a number of products they had never seen before. They stock many varieties of nostalgic and novelty candy, over 100 varieties of root beer and over 500 varieties of other craft soda, with plenty of nostalgic flavors and some for the more adventurous types. Names like Frostie Cherry Limeade, Jelly Belly Lemon Drop, Goon Bitters, Dog Drool, and even bacon and chocolate-flavored soda get conversations going among families or groups of friends checking out the store.

What are some of the Minnesota-made craft sodas available?

A few of the notable brands from around the store include Dorothy's Root Beer from Ely, MN, North Star Craft Soda (multiple flavors) from Forest Lake, MN, and Spring Grove Soda (multiple flavors) from Spring Grove, MN.

What's the "customer favorite" soda flavor?

Among the hundreds of choices, it isn't much of a surprise that the most popular soda at Fizzy Waters is a regional favorite. Dorothy’s Root Beer, made in Ely, Minnesota tops the list as the best-selling beverage the store offers. Dorothy's Root Beer is a legendary beverage among Minnesotans, especially anyone who has been to the Boundary Waters. The beverage was made famous by the original brewer, "Root Beer Lady", Dorothy Molter. While she has since passed away, her recipe is still followed to create the unique northwoods flavor many know and love.

What are the owners' favorite flavors?

What about the owners? What are their favorites? They say it varies from day to day. Susan’s drink of choice today was an Original New York Seltzer Lemon & Lime Soda. She says “It brings back good childhood memories every time I enjoy one.” Steve, on the other hand, went with with the Lemon Sour from Spring Grove Minnesota, saying “There's nothing better on a hot day.”

Staring a business isn't cheap. How did you do it?

When it came to make this sweet dream a reality, the owners of Fizzy Waters explained that the emotional and financial support of family members, along with backing from the Small Business Association, is what made everything possible. While they experienced some bumps and growing pains along the road, they truly appreciate everyone who has supported their business and every customer who has been through their doors.

TSM Duluth
TSM Duluth

Thanks to that support and the demand for their variety of products, they outgrew their Canal Park location, and moved to a much larger location at 120 West Superior Street in Downtown Duluth. The owners say that while they loved their location in Canal Park, the new location and bigger space will allow for a lot of exciting new opportunities. Among these new things is a planned area of the store dedicated exclusively to a variety of different products and merchandise made in the Twin Ports area.

You've been in business for a few years now. What advice would you give to someone looking to open their own business?

Having been established for a few years, Steve and Susan offer some great advice for anyone looking to chase their dream of opening a business of their own. They say "Realize that in business, unfortunately not everyone is going to support you. Take the time to have a lawyer read all leases and contracts. Also make sure you are financed for the long term, not just enough to open the doors." In the end, they say it's all about being persistent and keeping the dream in mind. As they put it, "The hardest part is to remember all of the good and not focus on those few bad days."


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