The owners of an East Coast luxury jewelry store chain are passing up the opportunity to sell their family business and instead giving it to longtime employees for free.
After more than six decades, Harvey and Maddy Rovinsky, the owners of Bernie Robbins Jewelers, are giving up the business, which focused at one point on selling appliances before making the transition to jewelry.
With stores located in Philadelphia and New Jersey, the business, which first opened in 1962, has been "carrying the world’s most prestigious timepieces, an unparalleled diamond selection and universally celebrated designers" for the last several decades.
"My wife and I are not kids anymore," Harvey told Fox News Digital about the transition. "We don't have any family in the business, and we kind of need a path for succession. … You know, our runway is getting shorter and if we have a problem with one of us or both of us, then the business goes away."
"We've been looking for a way to keep it going, to keep really great people continually employed. Many of them have been with us 30 years, 25, 20 years. So these are long-term people, they're like family," he added of those who will take over the business next year.
Rovinsky said he and his wife, who sold one of their signature stores last year, had previously searched for buyers for the business. After looking, however, the pair felt that none were "qualified to continue the legacy" of the original founder, Bernie Robbins.
The legacy of Robbins, Rovinsky's father-in-law, is something the couple have worked to continue throughout the years and eventually came to the conclusion that giving the business to current employees would be best to continue that legacy.
"We said, ‘You know, this has been right in front of our faces all this time. Instead of trying to find a qualified buyer, why not give it to people that are successfully running it now,’" Rovinsky recalled of the solution to passing on the family enterprise. "They understand our culture, they understand what we want. They've been doing it, they've been running it and we've been fortunate that money aspect was not a motivation. So we're going to continue the business with the people that know how to run it."
Rovinsky said the future owners of the jewelry store chain "love the business" and that there's "not a doubt that they will continue this and do it successfully."
Rovinsky, 76, has been working at Bernie Robbins for 57 years and said he has learned a lot during his time managing the business that has made the family enterprise a success, primarily through financial struggles that arose due to the economy.
"You know, people go to a university to get an MBA… I have a recession MBA," Rovinsky said, outlining some of the business' struggles in the past. "We've been through many recessions successfully, no issues, [but] 2008 to 2010 almost put us out of business. It was really very close for a while, but we managed to survive that, barely, at the time. Since then, we've flourished, and I have an enormous amount of lessons from that period."
"When things are easy, you think you're the smartest guy in the room. Then, all of a sudden, you get clobbered by a two-by-four and you say, ‘Whoa, what’s going on,'" he added. "Fortunately, I think Madalyn, my wife and I, have learned from our mistakes. We've learned how to budget, you know. I tell my people, ‘Budget is not a rental car company.’"
Rovinsky, who was asked by the future owners to continue working with the business, will serve as CEO once the transition is made official.
"I'm flattered and honored that they've asked me to stay on, which I will be happy to do until I annoy them enough and they fire me," he quipped.
As for what he will be doing after the new owners take control, Rovinsky noted that he will be spending time with family and said, "I really wanted to be the nanny for my grandchildren, but I applied for that job [and] I came in second, so that's not going to happen."
"Making memories is what this experience has been for us. We have been a part of thousands of engagements, weddings and countless family momentous occasions. It has truly been our honor and our joy to share in the happiness of so many special people," Maddy said in a statement about the transition of ownership. "We are indebted to our loyal clients for placing their trust in us for so long."
Harvey did not detail how many employees will receive ownership of the company, but the transition is slated to be made official during the first quarter of 2024.
Prior to the new ownership taking effect, Bernie Robbins Jewelers is running a brief retirement sale, offering its entire inventory of exclusive jewelry and timepieces at dramatically discounted prices. The Bernie Robbins retirement sale began Thursday at the Somers Point, New Jersey, location at 507 New Road, and the Villanova, Pennsylvania, location at 775 E. Lancaster Avenue.