|State Vacuum of Tampa, Inc. began fifty-seven years ago as part of a chain of stores owned by international businessmen Sam Heller and Gilbert Owens.
But the story of State Vacuum as it stands today begins with a young man, twenty-three years of age, named Bernie Epstein. The year was 1949, and Bernie had answered an ad in a local paper that promised a salary of fifteen dollars a week... plus commission!
Quickly distinguishing himself as a lead salesman for the appliance retailer, young Bernie won contest after contest, and soon found that the only sales records to break were his own. He was sent across the country to train others in his effective brand of salesmanship.
But good salesmanship could not undo the effects of mismanagement, for the chain of State Vacuum went out of business in 1959. Bernie was at a crossroads of sorts... He could easily obtain another job with his outstanding track record of sales; or he could strike while the iron was hot, and take a chance on his own moxie and business know-how.
The choice was clear. Bernie bought out the assets of the Tampa Store, and the new State Vacuum of Tampa, Inc. was formed. It was time for Bernie to now apply those principles and the work ethic that had made him such a stellar salesperson into the business of running the store. Soon, he moved the location to 1729 Grand Central... Longtime Tampa residents will remember this as its name before it became Kennedy Blvd.
The year was now 1957 - Chevy was making cars destined to be classics. Soda shops and hula hoops were all the rage, and rock and roll was beginning to prove its assertion that it was here to stay.
In this same year, a seminal event in the history of State Vacuum of Tampa occurred in the form of a visit from Stan Iverson.
Stan was familiar with the vacuum industry, and was skilled in the servicing and repair of the appliances. Teaching Bernie the ins and outs of repair opened up a whole new venue for the store- for as good as he was at selling the vacuums, Bernie Epstein found he had a knack for repairing them as well. The store experienced great success with the addition of servicing, and Stan Iverson was the cause. Now Stan was a colorful character, and his wild exploits oftentimes found him in trouble... Many were the times that Stan would hand Bernie the keys to his convertible, his puppy named "Chopper" and go on a drinking spree that would land him in jail.
Stan thought it was best that he moved on... Wishing Bernie well, he headed out. Strange and colorful, troubled but whimsical Stan Iverson had been instrumental in State Vacuum's growth.
Fast forward to 1965... The USA was four years away from landing men on the moon; although if you suggested this to the average Joe on the street, he'd laugh in your face.
Bernie Epstein was expanding the business, adding new lines of products: Hoover's, Eureka's, Kirby's...
Since Tampa had been so good to Bernie, he began to give back to his adopted city. State Vacuum's resources were used in part for community involvement.
With the business growing, and with the thought of his family, his community and the legacy he was forming for his young son David, Bernie bought an old Gulf Gas building and moved the store to 3143 W. Kennedy. This was a risk - But one that paid off. In its new location, and with the "old-school" ethic of customer service that Bernie Epstein has made synonymous with State Vacuum, he was able to expand to over 20,000 square feet of retail and warehouse room.
David Epstein, Bernie's son, proudly entered into the business full time in 1977. He had been grounded in the workings and community spirit of the store for some time - having worked there in some respect since the age of twelve. Bernie passed away in 2003 but the tradition continues with his son David.
From father to son, State Vacuum has become a family business, and a family store. Employing six full time mechanics, and cherishing the loyalty of its customers and workers, State Vacuum is more than an appliance store. It is a trusted part of the community - it has proven through the years that dedication to customers and only offering the finest products are sound strategies for any time period. Fifty-seven years of business insure you, the customer, of complete satisfaction.
State Vacuum is a recipient of the prestigious
"Small Business of the Year"
given by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
Past winners include the Outback Steakhouse.