As the owners of Bernie Robbins Jewelers are ready to retire, they are giving away their chains for free to longtime employees.
The owners of an East Coast luxury jewelry store chain are passing up an opportunity to sell their family business and are instead giving it away to longtime employees for free.
After more than six decades, Bernie Robbins Jewelers owners Harvey and Maddy Rovinsky are giving up the business, which at one point focused on selling appliances before switching to jewelry.
With stores in Philadelphia and New Jersey, the business, which first opened in 1962, has “carried the world’s most prestigious timepieces, an unparalleled selection of diamonds and universally acclaimed designers” for the past 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 need some sort of succession path. … You know, our runway is getting shorter and shorter, and if we have a problem with one or both of us, then it’s going to work out.”
“We’re looking for a way to continue that, to keep really great people employed. Most of them have been with us for 30 years, 25, 20 years. So, these are long-term people, they are like family,” he added, adding that they will take over the business next year.
Rovinski said he and his wife, who sold one of their signature stores last year, previously sought buyers for the business.
After looking, the pair felt neither was “fit to carry on the legacy” of original founder Bernie Robbins.
Rovinski’s father-in-law, Robbins’ legacy, is something the couple has been trying to carry on for years, and eventually decided it was best to hand the job over to current employees to carry on that legacy.
“We said, you know, it’s been right in front of us this whole time. Rather than trying to find a qualified buyer, why not give it to the people who are running it successfully now,” Rovinski recalled of the solution to the transition to the family business.
“They understand our culture, they understand what we want. They were doing it, making it work, and we’re happy that the money aspect wasn’t the motivation. So we will continue with people who know how to run the business.
Rovinsky said that the future owners of the chain of jewelry stores “love the business” and “there is no doubt that they will continue to do it and do it successfully.”
Rovinski, 76, has been with Bernie Robbins for 57 years, and said he’s learned a lot while running the family-owned business.
“You know, people go to university to get an MBA … I have a decline in MBAs,” Rovinski said, describing some of the business’s past struggles.
“We’ve been through many recessions, no problem, [but] 2008-2010 almost put us out of business. It was really close for a while, but we barely got by then. Since then we have flourished and I have learned a lot from that period.
“When things are easy, you think you’re the smartest guy in the room. Then all of a sudden you start getting hit two or four times and you’re like, “Wow, what’s going on”.
“Fortunately, I think my wife Madalyn and I have learned from our mistakes. We learned how to budget, you know. I tell my people that “Budget is not a car rental company”.
Rovinsky, whom the future owners have asked to continue working with the business, will serve as CEO once the transition is finalized.
“I’m honored and humbled that they’ve asked me to stay, which I’ll be happy to do until I annoy them enough to fire me,” he said.
As for what she will be doing after the new owners take over, Rovinski noted that she will be spending time with her family, saying, “I wanted to be a nanny for my grandkids, but I applied for the job. [and] I came second, so it won’t happen.”
“Making memories is what this experience is all about for us. We have attended thousands of engagements, weddings and countless family milestones. It was truly our honor and joy to share in the happiness of so many special people,” Maddi said in his statement about the transfer of ownership.
“We owe it to our loyal customers for trusting us for so long.”
Harvey did not disclose the number of employees who will take ownership of the company, but the transition is planned to be formalized in the first quarter of 2024.