About

Our History

In the early 1870's, Stefanus Melby emigrated to America from Bergen, Norway on the sailing ship America. He settled in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was a tailor. His firstborn was Arnold M. Melby on 3-18-1894. In 1906, Stefanus and one child died in the great flu epidemic. Arnold, being the oldest survivor, had to help his mother support the family. They moved to Crookston, Minnesota and he became an apprentice watchmaker while going to school. About 1916 he left home for Klammath Falls, Oregon where he worked for a jeweler repairing watches and selling pocket watches to Norwegian lumberjacks on a motorcycle. In 1919 he sent for Jennie Fylling to come and marry him. Later a child was born dead. Then Donald came along in 1922. Arnold moved to Santa Maria to work for Mr. Denton in 1922. Later in 1922 he moved to Lompoc at the invitation of Walter Zieche to open a store there to compete with him. He promised his extra repair business to get him going.

From 1922 to 1936 it was known as Arnold M. Melby Jeweler. The depression in the 1930s took it's toll. In 1936 he moved to Santa Maria after buying a defunct jewelry store for $10 at 116 North Broadway. It had showcases but no inventory, so he started with nothing. He gradually built up a clientele as a watchmaker and then as a jeweler. In 1943, he bought H.C. Corey's store and 109 West Main from a Kaufmann who had bought it from Corey (a year earlier) for $5000. In 1945, Donald came into the business after spending 2 1/12 years in the AirCorps and becoming a C-47 pilot. He married Joyce Jensen in 1946. Later in 1946, he sold the 116 North Broadway store to Bob Mollica, who was his watchmaker there. Two stores a block apart did not make good sense. In 1950 we expanded next door which had been Percey Senay's paint store and that added 1,000 square feet to our existing 1,000. This became our Sterling Silver Room. We represented all of the major manufacturers as well as carrying fine china and crystal. Ad Jensen, a retired J.C. Penney manager, came to take over office duties in 1959. In 1960 we expanded again next door buyiong out Hugh Radke's fabric store. It then became The Gift Shop.