Moda Fina jewelry store owner gives business to employees

PHOENIX - Employees at the Moda Fina jewelry store specialize in unique gifts.

"It's a very happy place," Orly Schulgasser said. "People come here because they are happy and they are looking to make someone happier."

For more than 20 years, the store has been a leader in the Valley's retail jewelry market. When Moda Fina's owner decided to get out of the business, he came up with a very special gift for his staff.

"It's just something I wanted to give back to the people that gave me so much," Yuri Shemesh said.

Shemesh is handing off his business to three long-time employees. Instead of selling it off to investors or another jewelry giant, he will put his workers behind the helm.

"It's a gift that he is giving us, and all the employees are going to stay and have the same benefits as before," Schulgasser said.

Shemesh will keep the building, and the "new" owners will have to pay him rent, but the future now lies in their hands.

"I am just going to give it to you and you guys are going to build it and bring it up," Shemesh said.

Beginning in March, Shemesh will work just two days a week, and plans to sever all ties by the end of the year. He said his team of dedicated employees earned this.

"The people that are working with me are working really hard, and I don't want to call it a gift. I really want to call it what they deserve," he said.

The employees are grateful.

"Unreal, really, it is just beyond our wildest dreams. You were once a worker, and now you're an owner. It's just like winning the lottery," Penny Schmitt said.

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