Are Soda Shops the New Coffee Shop?

Retailers selling exclusively soda want to create the vibe of a coffee shop—without the coffee.

January 07, 2022

Soda in a Glass

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Soda shops are popping up in the Western portion of the U.S. and are operating as Starbucks does in most of the country, reports Forbes.

Soda consumption is down in the U.S., so expert wonder if these shops will flourish outside of the West, but Kevin Auernig, co-founder of Sodalicious, is bullish. The soda shop company currently has 25 company-owned locations in Utah, Arizona and Idaho, and plans double that number in the next few years, including expanding outside the Mountain states.

Sodalicious blends brand-name sodas like Coke and Pepsi into mixed drinks, adding flavored syrups and fruit purees. The company also sells energy drinks and can blend them into soda cocktails as well. The only food offered is a variety of cookies.

The soda shop is open between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. and later on the weekends, and also has a delivery partnership with DoorDash.

Swig and Fitz are also soda shops in the West, but Sodalicious differentiates itself by experience. Auernig compares it to the TV show “Cheers” where everyone knows you name, and they know the orders of regulars.

Auernig says his three keys to success are retaining current labor and attracting new labor, innovation and sustaining a culture of having fun, being playful and judgment-free.

Soda companies are reimagining their brands to grapple with the decrease in soda consumption. The word “diet” no longer resonates with consumers, particularly millennials and Gen Z, so beverage companies are dropping the term from its branding. “Zero sugar” has replaced “diet” for no-calorie sodas, with brands such as Coke, Canada Dry and Schweppes ginger ales, 7Up, A&W and Sunkist all using the phrase.

Seltzers have taken the heart and stomach of consumers, as those who are health-conscious increasingly quench their thirst with fizzy beverages.

What else is flying out of the cold vault? Here’s what packaged beverages are winning over customers.