New drinks craze from Japan grips Norwich
PUBLISHED: 15:23 24 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:48 24 January 2020
A new soft drink sensation called Ramune which has a marble in the top of the bottle is helping put a fizz into the sales of a Norwich retailer.
Aaron Roberts, owner of Gifted, in Castle Quarter, has ditched much of his usual stock of gifts and trinkets for sweets and pop made famous on the likes of TikTok, YouTube and Instagram.
He spotted the potential of stocking unusual candy and refreshments from Japan, Taiwan, the US and Australia - and has seen his sales spike by as much as 25% as a result.
One of the most popular items is a Japanese soft drink called Ramune priced at £2.99. It comes in up to 50 different flavours including watermelon and pineapple which have a marble in the top of the bottle. When opening you have to force the marble down inside the bottle.
And Mr Roberts said once empty the colourful bottles are proving popular to collect.
Other drinks Gifted are stocking include cans of Taiwanese Ocean Bomb sparkling water in various flavours depicted by Pokemon characters including Pikachu - again the cans themselves are collected.
Mr Roberts said: "Kids see them on YouTube ... sweets and drinks from Japan, the US and Australia and they want them. I started realising that there was a business in selling what the young people want and it's just really taken off."
The new direction for Mr Roberts comes after he recently decided to close his London Street pop-up venture. He started Gifted after leaving school aged 19, with his first outlet in Yarmouth, then made the move to open in Norwich eight years ago. He runs Gifted, with other stores in King's Lynn, Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge, as a family business with his mum, sister, niece and brother-in-law all involved.
He started with just a small display of the candy and now it's taking up half the store.
Also proving popular are American Jolly Rancher sweets, Australian Tim Tam bars and Pocky, from Japan, a coated biscuit stick in strawberry and chocolate flavours.
And Mr Roberts is also stocking a brand much closer to home - all kinds of unusual Cadbury chocolate - including a new flavour called Caramilk, caramelised white chocolate. But you'll have to be feeling flush - as a bar costs £5.99.