State Vacuum and famed gorilla moving to new location

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The most famous mechanical gorillas in Florida are moving.

The gorillas have stood for decades at State Vacuum on Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa, but new signs out front say "Moving Sale" so we walked down the block to ask why this icon of Kennedy was giving up their spot.

The late Bernie Epstein founded the business in 1946. His son David grew up in the store, started working there in 1977, and has owned and managed the store for years.

"It's not the sexiest business to be in," quips Epstein, who has a collection of vacuums dating back to the early 1900s.

Inside the store, you'll also find photographs of three generations of his family. Some of his customers have been coming in for 50 years. 

A real estate investor recently made Epstein an offer for the property, and he took it. When word got out, people began asking what would happen to the business and the gorillas that have become famous.

Epstein laughs remembering when the new WTVT studio was built next door in the late 1980s with its huge SkyTower Radar tower.

"Channel 13's manager at the time got mad because someone called asking where the station was. He told him 'by the big tower.' The guy said, 'You mean by the gorillas?' He said, 'I just spent millions of dollars for the tower and the guy said gorillas?'" Epstein laughed.

Epstein says years ago his father brought home a box from a vacuum show in Las Vegas.

"He said take a look. We opened it up and there were gorillas. I thought they'd look good in front of the store. We never let him go alone again!" says Epstein.

The store repairs vacuums; a rarity these days. Some thought the store's time may be over. But, as it turns out, they're moving five blocks east on Kennedy Boulevard.

David's son, 28-year-old Joe, is taking on more management responsibilities.

"We get along great, the same way my dad and I did. I had a great mentor and I hope he feels the same way about me," says David.

And yes, the gorillas are going with them to set up shop just down the street.