Stucki’s humidor fires up jewelry-shopping experience for guys.

What do shoppers want to find in a jewelry store? Experts say they’re looking for an experience and an interesting story. At Stucki’s in Grass Valley, CA, men are finding both in a surprising new way. 

James Arbaugh, owner of Stucki Jewelers with his wife, Nicole, gave up his office to move onto the sales floor and streamline his work routines. This left some space in need of a purpose. So they transformed the former office into an in-store humidor and created an extraordinary experience in the process. Christened the Phoenix Humidor, it’s become an entry point for affluent customers. 

Results have been impressive in terms of increased foot traffic, a social-media bonanza and word-of-mouth enthusiasm. “What we found is it brings our customers in multiple times, even on a weekly basis,” James says. In the first six months, the inventory had a full turn. Within 12 months, cigar sales will cover the cost of inventory and renovation.

There are lots of good story-telling opportunities to go with the venture. For one thing, Stucki’s has been around since 1904 and in its current location since 1978. The humidor is named Phoenix, with a nod to the history of the building, which was once the Phoenix Drug Store. Arbaugh was able to acquire the original circa 1930 store sign. Customers have brought him a collection of local Gold Rush matchbooks from the early 20th century, which add to the sense of place.

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Cigars, James says, are traditionally given as gifts to celebrate the same kinds of moments marked by jewelry — the birth of a child, or a holiday, for example.

The Arbaughs built up their business in cigar accessories, such as lighters and cutters and travel cases. Staff can easily design personalized bachelor party gift sets featuring cigars, engraved decanters, glasses or lighters.

Stucki’s partners with wineries and vineyards for cigar and wine pairing parties and classes, providing more opportunities for storytelling and creating memorable experiences.

The humidor has been advertised through social media, along with word of mouth and direct email marketing to a list of customers who have attended events. Phoenix has its own web page, phoenixhumidor.com, for collecting emails and sending out invitations and news of product launches.

“We have already seen so many jewelry sales because men who had never been in our jewelry store before came in for cigars,” says Nicole. “The momentum and energy that the Phoenix has generated for Stucki has been beyond our expectations.”


James Arbaugh traded his office for a humidor.