Whole Foods shuts down its flagship store in San Francisco after just one year over city's failure to control crime

Just days after a top tech executive was killed in a random street stabbing, and a former fire commissioner was beaten by a bum with a metal object, the wokester leftists running San Francisco can take another bow.

The huge new ritzy Whole Foods Market flagship store in San Francisco, which opened only a year ago, has announced it's closing shop, citing the city's out-of-control crime. 

According to the San Francisco Standard:

One of the largest supermarkets in Downtown San Francisco — the Whole Foods Market at Eighth and Market streets — intends to shut down at the close of business Monday just a little more than a year after the store opened, company officials told The Standard.

"We are closing our Trinity location only for the time being," a Whole Foods spokesperson said in a statement. "If we feel we can ensure the safety of our team members in the store, we will evaluate a reopening of our Trinity location."

A City Hall source told The Standard the company cited deteriorating street conditions around drug use and crime near the grocery store as a reason for its closure.

This wasn't just any Whole Foods Market high-end grocery store.  This was the 64,737-square-foot flagship store in a fleet of nine grocery stores, built as a state-of-the-art establishment to cater to a high-end clientele.  There were art sculptures and fancy flooring in the courtyard and electrical vehicle charging stations in the secure parking lot.  The store itself, which based on its pictures appeared to be a secure box with a glass framework around it, to prevent looting, featured locally grown organic produce, handcrafted chocolates, fresh baked goods, fancy organic personal care products, craft beers, Napa Valley wines, ready-to-eat meals, hard-to-find gourmet specialties, and more, none of which comes cheap.  But they did have the customer base to support such an operation — with the tech baronies up the street on Market toward the Bay — Twitter, SalesForce, Uber, Block — the happy customers.  The typical Whole Foods customer, according to Statista, is someone in the prized 30- to 49-year-old demographic, which are most customers' prime working years.

Just one problem, though: The place was plagued by violent crime from the nearby bums of downtown, the South of Market area, the Mission, and the Tenderloin, all of which are just as walking distance to the place as the various tech headquarters.

Target closed one of its large stores not far from where the Whole Foods was located on the same crime concerns in 2021.  Target couldn't take the daily losses of thousands of dollars in merchandise — and the robbings and beatings of both the employees and the customers who would otherwise come to shop.  Whole Foods specifically cited the safety of its employees.

This was sorry stuff, because according to the Trinity developer, the idea was to make the market an "open" and inviting and inclusive place for the community.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle's account at the time of the ritzy, much-hyped opening:

But only with this spring's opening of a Whole Foods Market along Market Street does the scale of Trinity Place sink in. It is huge — no surprise. It's also more inviting than you might expect.

The invitation is literal, with the new building along Market Street punctured by an eight-story portal that's 45 feet wide and leads into a large courtyard. Another, lower portal is carved through the building beyond.

Semi-public spaces often are designed and managed with cues to keep outsiders out, to keep passersby passing by. Here, it's the opposite. If the vast portal doesn't whet your curiosity, maybe the herringbone pattern of the white-and-black marble pavers will. No? Then try and resist the lure of life-size classical figures carved from white marble and encased in thick clear glass. You'll want a closer look — if only to confirm that you're not hallucinating the juxtaposition of rigid modernism and curvaceous Greek bodies, male and female alike.

With bums, lifestyle homeless people, drug addicts, and criminals all around, you can just imagine how that worked out.  The Whole Foods statement explicitly cited "hostile people."

That drives customers away, of course.  Combine it with the lockdowns, which turned large numbers of tech workers into telecommuters; the great flight from the city of the city's residents; the tech layoffs; the shutdowns of small businesses in the area on bad losses; and the city's defunding of the police, leaving it some 500 officers short, and one can pretty well see that the whole thing was a big disaster for Whole Foods, which had just opened the place and wanted to cut its losses just to stop the figurative bleeding.  Like Target, they first cut their hours because of the unapprehended and unpunished criminal element.  Then they shut their doors, although they may be attempting to pressure the city into providing security and enforcing its laws, given that the San Francisco Standard reported that employees were seen still stocking store shelves, which a store would be unlikely to do if it is planning to get the hell out of Dodge.

All the same, the writing is on the wall.  According to this financial report, which is a little outdated (I'm still looking for the exact amount they shelled out to open this store), we know the company spends big dollars — neighborhood of $300 million companywide each year, to develop new store locations.  (You find it on the cash flow statement under investment activities with a specific line about developing new locations).

Getting the permit for the store would have taken about six years, as this example demonstrates, and particularly for Whole Foods, which is non-union.  The complex itself took 19 years to get off the ground.

So the fact that they shut down so quickly to cut their losses, against that much investment and fanfare, tells us a lot about just how serious the situation is and just how bad the losses were. 

That's on San Francisco's blue-city government.  The tech community is bound to make noise about the loss of its favorite grocery store, and the stories about San Francisco becoming a food desert are likely to grow, too.  They just can't bring themselves to curb crime and defund the NGOs that are effectively producing this huge class of bums and criminals.  Now they have to live with it.  Hope they don't get hungry.

Image: JCruzTheTruth via Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 4.0.

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