Maas Brothers

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Maas Brothers
Former typeDepartment store
Fatemerged into Burdines
Successor(s)Burdines (now Macy's)
Founded1886 Tampa, Florida
Defunct1991 (1991)
HeadquartersTampa, Florida
 
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Maas Brothers
Former typeDepartment store
Fatemerged into Burdines
Successor(s)Burdines (now Macy's)
Founded1886 Tampa, Florida
Defunct1991 (1991)
HeadquartersTampa, Florida

Maas Brothers was a leading Tampa, Florida, department store founded by Abe and Isaac Maas in 1886.[1] It grew from a small 23-by-90-foot (7.0 by 27.4 m) store to a chain of 39 stores across the state of Florida. The Maas Brothers brand went defunct in 1991 when it was consolidated into the Burdines department store chain.

History[edit]

Abe and Isaac Maas started their retail career in Cochran, Georgia, working with their brothers, Jacob and Sol. By 1880, Abe was operating a store in Dublin, Georgia, and Isaac was operating a millinery store in Ocala by 1885. In 1886, Abe decided to move to a better location and chose Tampa, at the time a small village on Florida's west coast. Abe had been quoted[by whom?] as saying, "It's a waterfront town. Who knows? It may amount to something someday." Abe Maas opened the Dry Goods Palace on December 10, 1886. His brother, Isaac, formally joined his brother on September 15, 1887, and the store became Maas Brothers. After outgrowing its first two locations, Maas Brothers opened its third, and largest, store in 1921. By 1929, Maas Brothers dominated Florida's West Coast. It was known as "Greater Tampa's Greatest Store."

The first Maas Brothers store is the only downtown store still standing

Allied Stores[edit]

In 1929, Abe and Isaac Maas sold Maas Brothers to Hahn Department Stores. Maas Brothers gained the buying power of the 28 department stores while Hahn gained the addition of another successful chain with a loyal customer base. In 1935, Hahn Department Stores changed its name to Allied Stores Corporation. Despite being owned by a national company, Maas Brothers was still operated by the Maas family. In 1935, Isaac Maas, who was serving as chairman of the board died at the age of 71. Abe Maas, who was president, became chairman. Jerome A. Waterman, Abe and Isaac's nephew, became president. Jerome joined Maas Brothers in 1907. Abe Maas died in 1941 at the age of 86.

Expansion[edit]

In 1948, Maas Brothers opened its first full line branch store in downtown St. Petersburg. Other branch stores opened in downtown Lakeland in 1954, downtown Sarasota in 1956 and downtown Clearwater in 1961. Maas Brothers opened its first mall store, in 1965, in the Edison Mall. By 1981, Maas Brothers opened its 17th store in Gulf View Square Mall in Port Richey. This was the last Maas Brothers store built. In 1985, Maas Brothers absorbed the Savannah, Georgia based stores of fellow Allied nameplate Levy's of Savannah (founded in 1871 as B. H. Levy & Bro.).

The downtown Tampa Store 1991
West Shore Plaza Store 1991

Campeau takeover[edit]

In 1986, Maas Brothers celebrated its 100th anniversary. It was in the same year that Canadian real estate developer Robert Campeau completed his takeover of Allied Stores Corporation. As part of liquidation and cost cutting, Maas Brothers was consolidated with the weaker Jordan Marsh Florida franchise on Florida's East Coast in 1987 (Allied's Jordan Marsh had expanded from New England in 1956, later forming a separate Allied division). The plan was that the stronger Maas Brothers would help the weaker Jordan Marsh. This brought the total number of combined stores to 39 throughout Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. In 1989 the official store name was changed to Maas Brothers/Jordan Marsh.

In 1988, Campeau launched a successful takeover battle with Macy's for Federated Department Stores. Ironically, Federated would acquire Macy's in 1994. With the acquisition of Federated, Maas Brothers' formal rival, Miami-based Burdines, became its sister store. As with the Allied acquisition, in order to cut costs, several back office operations for Maas Brothers, Jordan Marsh, and Burdines were consolidated.

Bankruptcy and merger[edit]

Demolition of the downtown Tampa Store 2006

By 1989, Federated and Allied were struggling to make its debt payments incurred from the takeovers. On January 16, 1990, Federated and Allied filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Several underperforming stores were closed, including the flagship downtown Tampa store in February 1991. As part of its plan of reorganization, the Florida operations would be consolidated and several stores would be closed. The Maas Brothers/Jordan Marsh headquarters was closed and consolidated with Burdines in July 1991. On October 20, 1991, the Maas Brothers stores officially became Burdines. The majority of the former Jordan Marsh stores were sold off since they competed directly with Burdines. Burdines, along with the other Federated divisions except Bloomingdales, were converted to Macy's in 2005.

Disposition of the stores[edit]

While the Maas Brothers stores developed as mall anchor stores remain, the downtown stores were closed and only one remains occupied today.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ratjar, Steve (2007). A Guide to Historic Lakeland, Florida. The History Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-59629-271-0. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  2. ^ Hixenbaugh, John (2005). City of St. Petersburg Report to EDC. 

Further reading[edit]