New book remembers Maas Brothers stores

- For generations, shoppers in the Bay Area depended on one department store, Maas Brothers. 

The name disappeared in the early 1990s as the store folded into Burdine's and then Macy's in a department store consolidation frenzy, leaving many shoppers wishing the days of Maas Brothers would return.

Author Michael Lisicky, who has written about many local and regional department stores in other parts of the country says writing his new book, "Remembering Maas Brothers," was a fascinating journey into the history of Tampa and the west coast of Florida.

"The people here needed Maas Brothers and the Maas Bothers needed Tampa," Lisicky said.

The brothers, Abe and Isaac arrived in Tampa in the late 1880s. They were merchants who came to the United States from Germany. They moved to Georgia, then Ocala, and finally Tampa.

Lisicky says the brothers quickly gained a great knowledge of their consumers in the Tampa area.

"Maas Brothers knew the west coast of Florida. I want to say Tampa, but I have to throw in St. Pete and Clearwater. You're all together, but they treated each one of those stores differently," he explained. 

Each store, he added, had its own character - from Lakeland to Ft. Myers to Sarasota.

"Maas Brothers developed traditions," Lisicky said. "Whether it was fashion shows or eating the cinnamon twists or eating at the Neptune Room." 

Lisicky doubts a hometown department store like Maas Brothers could exist again, but those who grew up with it remember its legacy.  

"You still hear people say 'Maas Brothers, of course'," he said, reciting the  famous slogan of the department store that grew up with Tampa.

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