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Old Town’s new hot sauce hot spot fulfills dreams

Bottles+of+hot+sauce+are+lined+on+shelves+on+the+wall.+Theres+a+doorway+with+a+sign+reading+Vintage+%26+Vinyl+above+it.
Collegian | Samantha Nordstrom
The Hot Sauce Realm, located on South College Avenue, sells a variety of locally sourced hot sauces, vintage clothing, vinyl records and other accessories in Fort Collins March 20. Employee Izzy Beesley said the shop was built out of an old alleyway after a ceiling and walls were added.

As locals walk through Old Town, there are destinations most are familiar with, such as the Old Town Spice Shop, Rocket Fizz and Aggie Theatre, but one new business is gaining popularity: The Hot Sauce Realm

This new store features over 250 types of hot sauce, vinyls, vintage clothing and a monthly display from local artists. This obscure store has been renting the space since July 2023 and just signed a two-year lease.

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“A goal is to be a destination where people come from out of town to come to our shop specifically because we have items that you’re not going to be able to find in your normal grocery stores,” said Ashley Ruffer, co-owner of The Hot Sauce Realm.

Ashley Ruffer took her love of hot sauce and combined it with her husband Errin Ruffer’s love of vinyls and vintage clothing and made the new eclectic destination in Old Town. 

“Accomplishing my own dream is unbelievable, and then being able to share that dream in a different capacity but in the same space with my husband is even more special.” -Ashley Ruffer, The Hot Sauce Realm co-owner

“When I was in high school back in Michigan, there was a little Mexican restaurant where you could go in, and they had a wall over 100 different hot sauces,” Ashley Ruffer said. “If you made it through, you got a T-shirt, and it was just one of the most exciting things for me.”

During the pandemic, the Ruffers wanted to support local hot sauce businesses, and they realized along the way they could make their own business out of it. 

“We had stands inside of five different existing businesses all over town,” Ashley Ruffer said.

Now that they have rented their own space on South College Avenue, the Ruffers are more focused on their growing business.

“We’re really working hard on getting the best products that we can possibly get in and the most that we can fit on the shelves,” Ashley Ruffer said. 

Once customers walk into the back half of the store, they are greeted with vinyls lining the wall and vintage clothing hung on racks  Errin Ruffer’s dream.

“I’ve been buying vintage clothing since I was 16 years old and have never stopped,” Errin Ruffer said. “I had a dream of opening my own vintage clothing shop in California, and (I) ended up selling over 3,000 vintage clothes on eBay but was never able to open my own shop till now.”

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Errin Ruffer also loved to buy vinyls of bands he had never even heard of. 

“I built up my collection of over 7,000 records while I was living in California, but up until our shop, I’ve never sold any records,” Errin Ruffer said. 

Together, Ashley and Errin Ruffer are able to live out their dreams. 

“Accomplishing my own dream is unbelievable, and then being able to share that dream in a different capacity but in the same space with my husband is even more special,” Ashley Ruffer said.

Currently, they are featuring the art of store employee and local artist Izzy Beesley along their walls.

“We knew that we wanted to really focus on supporting local artists in the community with the small but blank walls that we have in there,” Ashley Ruffer said. “We are really big on supporting small businesses.”

The couple said they hope to soon start filtering out different artists with each month, but Beesley has been the current talent occupying the walls for the past two months. 

“From day one, (the Ruffers) were just very supportive of my artwork and what I wanted to do within the community with that and getting it out there,” Beesley said.

For as long as she can remember, Beesley has been a creative spirit.

“My mom says that ever since I’ve been old enough to hold a Sharpie in my hand, I’ve been Sharpie-ing on anything and everything,” Beesley said. “I like to call myself a creative rather than an artist, so as much as I love to paint and draw, I really like making jewelry as well.”

She also works with resin, mixing with the flowers in her garden and some macrame, but her dream is to one day paint one of the pianos around Old Town. 

Beesley also helps The Hot Sauce Realm in designing signs and other small creative tasks around the store. 

“(There are) nothing but great things about The Hot Sauce Realm,” Beesley said. “The people that run it are just amazing, amazing people who deserve everything good in the world.”

Reach Sophie Webb at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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  • T

    TriciaMar 28, 2024 at 7:14 pm

    Hard not to like hot sauce once you meet Ashley! Her love for what she does is so infectious!

    Reply
  • A

    AshleyMar 28, 2024 at 5:15 pm

    Thank you so much for the wonderful interview and article!

    Reply