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A 166-Year-Old Luxury Retailer Says This Might Be Its 'Last' Holiday Season Due to the 'Profound Erosion' of San Francisco The owner of San Francisco luxury department store Gumps took out a full-page ad in "The San Francisco Chronicle" to express concern over the city's current state and call on city officials to clean up the streets.

By Madeline Garfinkle

Key Takeaways

  • Gumps' owner says the iconic store's survival is in jeopardy due to worsening conditions in the city.
  • Over 90 retailers have closed in San Francisco's Union Square since 2019.
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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

John Chachas, a San Francisco resident and owner of the city's 166-year-old luxury retailer, Gumps, is fed up with the city's current environment. The high-end department store specializes in housewares, jewelry, and gifts, and has been in San Francisco's Union Square area since 1861.

Chachas took out a full-page ad in The San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday to voice his complaints, stating that it may be the "last" holiday season for the older-than-the-Edison-bulb retailer due to the "profound erosion of this city's current conditions."

"San Francisco now suffers from a 'tyranny of the minority' — behavior and actions of the few that jeopardize the livelihood of many," Chachas wrote in the ad.

He went on to highlight the challenges being faced in the city due to remote work, decreased foot traffic, and the "destructive" city policies that have allowed the homeless to "openly distribute and use illegal drugs, to harass the public and to defile the city's streets."

Related: Westfield to Give Up San Francisco Mall Due to 'Challenging Operating Conditions'

Chachas directly called on the governor, mayor, and city supervisors to take "immediate action" to clean up the streets, remove encampments, and enforce new policies.

"San Franciscans deserve better than the current condition of the city," he added.

The response from Chronicle readers was mixed. "Read the tea leaves, Mayor London Breed and other elected officials. Do your job or we will find politicians who really care enough to make a difference," James Hargarten of San Francisco wrote in a letter to the Chronicle.

Gumps has been at 250 Post Street for 166 years. Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle | Getty Images.

Others disagreed with Chachas' methods.

"While I agree that San Francisco has work to do, his self-righteous tone reeks of the privilege that led the city down this path to destruction," Michelle Vizinau, a resident of Stockton, CA, wrote in another letter to the Chronicle following the ad.

Related: San Francisco Launches $6 Million Ad-Campaign to Lure Tourists Amid Retail Exodus and Drug Crisis

Still, Chachas told The San Francisco Standard that he has heard overwhelming support since the ad ran.

"No one's told me, 'Oh my, how uncaring you are toward the homeless,'" Chachas told the outlet. "I received multiple responses saying 'truth to power,' 'You're saying exactly what everybody believes.' It's just that no one listens."

Since 2019, 92 retailers have closed up shop in San Francisco's Union Square area, according to The San Francisco Standard.

Related: Nordstrom Is Closing Both Downtown San Francisco Locations: 'Dynamics' Have 'Changed Dramatically'

Madeline Garfinkle

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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