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Store owner Tania Petrulis (photo by Phil Mumford)

Subtle humor abounds at Table Mesa shop

By Florence Connally
photos by phil mumford

Finding the perfect gift can be hard, especially when the nearest gift shop is clear across town. Tania Petrulis hopes to change that for south Boulder residents with her store, Sweet Ruckus, located in the Table Mesa Shopping Center. The store carries a variety of women’s and children’s accessories, paper goods, jewelry, and items she describes as curiosities.

Petrulis is no newcomer to the gift business. For more than 20 years, she worked on the wholesale side selling gift items to other gift shops. Sweet Ruckus gives her a place to highlight the products she’s come across over the years. “I see things that I love and buy things that I love,” says Petrulis. Then she adds with a laugh, “But the really crazy ones don’t always sell!”

Cards, Gurgle Pots and farm-animal pillows are among the eclectic offerings at Sweet Ruckus. (photo by Phil Mumford)

Petrulis’s sense of humor is evident in the products offered at Sweet Ruckus, which is located directly under Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins, near King Soopers, Snarf’s, Art Cleaners and the Yoga Loft. Irony pops up in surprising places—the miniature pewter doll heads, for example. “I’m drawn to humor and stock the store with items that have subtle humor,” she says. Bold patterns and great design are other traits that define the store’s products, such as Gurgle Pots—fish-shaped water pitchers ($45) that gurgle as they pour. The Compartes chocolate bars have fun names, such as The Drive In for a caramelized-popcorn milk chocolate bar. Even the store’s name is ironic, since ruckuses rarely sound sweet. But that’s exactly what Petrulis decided to call her store after waking up one spring morning to the “craziness of birds singing.”

Her favorite items are the humorous yet tasteful greeting cards, of which there is a wide selection. “I love paper. There are lots of funny cards,” says Petrulis. There are also items that are simply thoughtful, whimsical or unexpected, such as Hydra shower bursts ($5.50)—half-circles of essential oils that transform a shower into a spa experience. “There are lots of things out there for your bath but not for your shower,” Petrulis notes.

The Perfect Present—Even with a Goat

Originally from Boulder, Petrulis still lives in town and in the same neighborhood where her store is located. She saw firsthand the need for a gift store on the south side of Boulder, because “it’s harder to get across town these days.” Since opening the store, she has become even more connected to her part of town. “What I didn’t know was the connections I would make with all the people in the neighborhood. I love the comings and goings of people,” Petrulis says.

It’s these connections that help make the store, whether they’re with a dog and owner she remembers meeting on a trail, or with Sweet Ruckus gift recipients who come for their own gift-giving needs. That was the case when a neighbor came in to search for a gift for a goat-themed birthday party. Petrulis happens to stock farm-animal pillows ($44.75), including one that features a goat. After receiving the present, the recipient came in to buy the exact same pillow for someone else. Shoppers may even get a chance to meet Petrulis’s own pets—Otis the dog and Saphie the super-social cockatiel. Saphie loves to see people and isn’t caged when he hangs out in the store.

Sweet Ruckus features home décor as well as a wide range of items to fit a variety of occasions, budgets and recipients, including babies and men. (photo by Phil Mumford)

While the store is mostly geared toward women, there’s a wide range of items to fit a variety of occasions, budgets and recipients, including babies and men. Selections include hair accessories, socks, home décor, and pure-fun items such as Surprise Balls—balls of crêpe-paper wrapped around small presents. The stock changes seasonally, so the top-selling floral dishtowels of summer will give way to Thymes Frasier Fir home fragrances for the holiday season. The popular vegan-leather tote bags ($62 and $72) by Joy Susan will remain, but the colors will change with the seasons.

Sweet Ruckus (303-494-5131; www.sweetruckusgifts.com) is
located in the Table Mesa Shopping Center at 607 S. Broadway,
Suite F, Boulder 80305. It’s open Monday-Friday from10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Petrulis also strives to carry items made by Colorado businesses. These include Rosy Rings candles from Denver and the beautifully packaged Lollia bath products out of Englewood.

Yes, there may be a few shoppers who are daunted to find themselves in a store that “just has the things my wife would like,” as one browser remarked. But they need not worry. Petrulis has them covered with gift cards and a wish-list service, and loves “to help people find something special that will make other people happy.”

There truly is something for everyone, and to top it all off, Sweet Ruckus provides complimentary boxes and ribbons to wrap it up with a bow.


Florence Connally is a freelance writer who lives in Lafayette.