Moving into view
A long-running Grass Valley fine-gift shop will soon occupy a more visible retail space, moving to the front and center.
Ruby’s Fine Gifts is taking over the location of the former Tuscany Gardens restaurant, 12094 Nevada City Highway.
While it’s only a short move from the back of the Fowler Center shopping plaza to the front, it offers advantages for the gift shop, including one of the key elements of retail success: visibility.
“Exposure is always an asset in any business that you have,” said Ruby Baumgart, who owns the shop with her husband, William. When the business moves in three to six weeks, it will be in its third location in 24 years.
The store has operated for a dozen years in a row of other retail stores next to Albertson’s Food & Drug. The store employs 12.
From a distance, it’s hard to tell a large gift shop is there – one might think Ruby’s is a restaurant.
Moving the business to the front of the shopping center will definitely increase its visibility along well-traveled Nevada City Highway and even Highway 49, said Baumgart.
“If you don’t know the store is here, it’s not the easiest place to find,” she said.
A more prominent location could help the store expand its tourist business.
The move will offer more parking, as well. Right now, Ruby’s shares parking with various retail shops and Albertson’s. The new location has 60 spaces around it.
And the building’s wood beams and skylights will offer the right ambience for a gift shop, Baumgart said.
“It will make it a very light, airy and comfortable place to shop,” she said.
Baumgart will make use of all 6,500 square feet of the new building. She is planning to expand the garden and home accessory sections of the store, which also carries china, crystal, linens and collectibles among its thousands of items.
Also in the works are new items that could appeal to teens, thanks to some input from some of Baumgart’s young employees.
Word of mouth and loyal customers have been responsible for the store’s business rather than visibility. Baumgart said the store has always done well, but declined to provide revenue figures.
One loyal customer is Judy Hess of Nevada City, who said she started shopping at Ruby’s 16 years ago. Back then, the shop was on Colfax Avenue.
Hess said Baumgart has a natural sense for what customers want to purchase.
“It seems like she’s shopping for us personally,” Hess said.
Hess said her 28-year-old daughter is now furnishing her home with items from Ruby’s. She’s been shopping there with Hess since she was 11. Keeping it generational, Hess’ 4-year-old granddaughter never leaves Ruby’s without a sparkly pin or a stuffed animal.
Another longtime customer, Cindy Giardina of Cedar Ridge, said, “There’s nothing else like it.”
Baumgart started the gift shop 24 years ago on a whim, when a space opened up next to the deli on Colfax Avenue that she and her husband were running. They owned the building.
“I never started out to have a gift shop, it just evolved,” she said.
Before she started, Baumgart said, she frequently talked with another gift shop owner who shopped at the deli, telling him about wonderful things she saw at gift stores. He often told her that someday she would own her own gift shop.
“I guess the interest was always there, whether I knew it or not,” Baumgart said.
When a next-door tenant moved out, Baumgart was going to put a few gift items in the space as a temporary solution. It turned into a full-time career.
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With a 5.9% unemployment rate, Nevada County ranked 12th out of the state’s 58 counties in employment rate last month, according to the latest data released by the state Employment Development Department.