CEO Declares San Francisco Has ‘Descended into a City of Chaos’ as He Pulls Company from City

by J Pelkey
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Another company is calling it quits in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home city.

Since the beginning of the decade, San Francisco has lost dozens of different stores due to high crime, ranging from high-end stores to local grocery stores and drug stores. Walgreens alone has closed around a dozen stores in the city in only a few years, with many other drastically reducing night hours to avoid robberies.

Clothing stores have been hit particularly hard by crime due to the ease in which merchandise can be taken and how stores are laid out. Even with many stores hiring private security guards or installing more security features, many clothing stores have left in the last few years, including the Gap, which closed their flagship store in the city in 2020, as well other sportswear and outdoor brands such as Decathlon. This has led to some famed shopping areas such as Market Street to have more and more empty store fronts.

Outdoor active-wear brand Cotopaxi is closing its San Francisco store after only a year following rampant theft that left the store’s staff “terrified.”

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The company’s founder, Davis Smith, announced the closing in a LinkedIn post Tuesday.

“It’s sad, but San Francisco appears to have descended into a city of chaos,” he wrote. “Many streets and parks are overrun with drugs, criminals, and homelessness, and local leadership and law enforcement enable it through inaction.”

“One of the most beautiful and amazing cities in the world is now a place where many no longer feel safe visiting or living.”

According to San Francisco Police Department data, overall crime in San Francisco is up 7.4 percent so far this year compared to the same period last year. But that number tells only part of the story.

In some districts of the city, crime was up over 20 percent. The data also includes only those crimes reported to the police; one would expect that as crime increases and law enforcement shows a general unwillingness or inability to act, reporting would die off even though crime is alive and well.

Smith’s post not only lamented the crime, but the refusal of local officials to address it.

“We opened a retail store a year ago on Hayes Street, the charming shopping district just blocks away from the famous Full House home,” he wrote. “Our first week there, our windows were smashed and thousands of dollars of product was stolen. We replaced the window, and it immediately happened again (four times). We replaced with window with plywood as we waited for a month+ to get a metal security gate installed (demand for those gates is creating huge delays).”

As a result, he said, the company was left with no choice but to shutter the location, one of 10 that had been operated by Cotopaxi. The company website lists the location as “temporarily closed,” but Smith didn’t sound optimistic about the chances that it would re-open any time soon.

“As of today, we are closing the store due to rampant organized theft and lack of safety for our team. Our store is hit by organized theft rings several times per week. They brazenly enter the store and grab thousands of dollars of product and walk out. We started keeping the door locked and opening it only for customers, but even then, they’ll have a woman go to the door, and then hiding individuals rush into the store as soon as the door opens.

“Our team is terrified. They feel unsafe. Security guards don’t help because these theft rings know that security guards won’t/can’t stop them.”

“It’s impossible for a retail store to operate in these circumstances, especially when cities refuse to take any action (despite us paying taxes well above any other state we operate in),” he wrote. “The city recently announced a reduction of police presence in this neighborhood, despite mass-scale crime.”

“I grew up in Latin America and spent much of my adult life there, and I never felt this unsafe there. Something has to change in San Francisco.”

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