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‘Flagship’ San Francisco Whole Foods Closes Only One Year In; Cites High Crime, Rampant Drugs

‘This is why San Francisco can’t have nice things’

By Evan Symon, April 11, 2023 1:49 pm

One of the largest supermarkets remaining in San Francisco, the flagship Whole Foods on the corner of 8th and Market, shut down with little warning at the end of business on Monday after only a year in business, citing high crime and drug use in the area.

For several years, large chains and small businesses alike have been leaving San Francisco, either closing permanently or relocating operations outside the city. In the case of small businesses, some have left the area entirely, moving out of state or to other areas in the state. For the last few years, for example, Walgreens has closed more and more stores in the city due to the massive amount of crime happening within it’s stores. Higher-end stores have also cited break-ins and crime as major reasons for leaving. And just last month, Amazon announced that all their Amazon Go stores in the city would be closing as well.

While high costs from rent and other factors was listed as a primary reason, a lack of customers visiting the stores due to many avoiding crime in the Downtown area was also a factor in the decision, tying in crime once again.

However, while the vast majority of those stores leaving the city dated back to before the COVID-19 pandemic first struck in March 2020, the Whole Foods closure was especially surprising, as it only opened last year. In March 2022, the press release for the Whole Foods opening was joyous, with the company even calling it their “flagship” store for the area. But, just after it opened, things quickly proved dire. The emptying of downtown businesses due to rent costs and the rise of more work-from-home arrangements slashed planned foot traffic. Compounding this was the store becoming a magnet for criminals, the homeless, drug addicts, and others who would routinely steal from the store. While the store had security of their own, the situation proved to be overwhelming, and with the SFPD undermanned, getting people arrested in a timely fashion proved daunting.

Many measures were put into place to try and quell the high amount of crime. Store hours were cut to not include evening hours. The bathrooms were made for store customers only with drug addicts doing drugs in the bathrooms. More security came in as more violent situations occurred. But all of it proved futile, with the store losing more each month in stolen products, including all 250 shopping carts stolen.

Flagship Whole Foods closes after only opening in March 2022

“Yeah, all of these news reports are not exaggerating anything,” regular Whole Foods customer Amon Hardy told the Globe on Monday. “I go in, or should I say, went in there two to three times a week. At least once a week someone seemed to try and steal something. They’d just grab something then run like hell out of there. Sometimes when I was going in or leaving, security had someone, and they were always yelling about the high prices or cost of living there. And the worst thing is that people there always seemed to side with the person stealing, as they would defend them and yell at security to let them go.”

Another regular customer, Janice Mueller, added, “Stealing was common, but I always remember the drug users there.  I recently stopped going because I saw someone on something just slowly go down in front of me after taking something and I had to physically walk around them. I mean, when this place opened, it was really like any other Whole Foods out there. And it went downhill so much and I just got used to it. Then I visited my sister in LA and went into one there. I mean, there wasn’t even security there. In LA. No bathroom codes. Nothing. Night and day. Going back felt like a huge blow.”

A third longtime customer, who wished to remain anonymous said, “Everyone just assumed Whole Foods would eat these costs because of them being this big, fancy grocery store. But look how they took advantage of that. I saw people go against security and the police there trying to stop this. This is why San Francisco can’t have nice things.”

On Monday, Whole Foods finally announced that the store would be closed indefinitely, with workers there reevaluating if they can reopen in the future.

“We are closing our Trinity location only for the time being,” Whole Foods 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.”

Many local officials and lawmakers were also surprised by the announcement, vowing to increase police and improve public safety to entice the store, as well as many others, to come back to the city.

“I’m incredibly disappointed but sadly unsurprised by the temporary closure of Mid-Market’s Whole Foods,” tweeted SF City Supervisor Matt Dorsey. “Our neighborhood waited a long time for this supermarket, but we’re also well aware of problems they’ve experienced with drug-related retail theft, adjacent drug markets, and the many safety issues related to them. Today, I’m waiving privilege to publicly announce a drafting request I’m working on with Supervisor Stefani for a Charter Amendment entitled the “San Francisco Police Department Full Staffing Act,” which will get San Francisco to a fully staffed police department within 5 years.

“San Franciscans have been denied the benefits of a fully staffed police department for nearly 30 years. Today, our current police understaffing crisis has never been worse. Whole Foods’ closure — together with many other safety-related challenges we’ve seen recently — is Exhibit A as to why San Francisco can no longer afford NOT to solve our police understaffing crisis. San Franciscans — or at least the ones I represent in District 6 — are demanding solutions, and they have a right to expect that from those of us in City Hall. I hope my colleagues will support this effort. We owe our residents nothing less.”

However, for many in the city, that is only part of the solution.

“More police is great, but we also need the power to arrest and have security and the SFPD not be cowed by people saying to let these criminals go on the street,” added security consultant and former policeman Frank Ma to the Globe on Monday. “Let’s continue to bring back laws here that punish people for stealing and not just ‘write it off’. That’s what the city needs too. Same with not being complacent with drug use. More police is a good first step, but stores won’t come back unless the police are allowed to take action and arrest people like they used to once again. People in the city wanted less cops and to strip away some of their arresting power and for less consequences. This is what we have now. A grocery store fleeing after only a year here is just the latest result of all that.”

News on if an when the Whole Foods will reopen is expected soon.

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4 thoughts on “‘Flagship’ San Francisco Whole Foods Closes Only One Year In; Cites High Crime, Rampant Drugs

  1. “And the worst thing is that people there always seemed to side with the person stealing, as they would defend them and yell at security to let them go.”

    This says it all. The people in SF are idiots and beyond repair. You can’t fix stupid.

    This entire homeless problem could easily be fixed. It’s so simple. Start arresting people and putting them in jail for drug possession, and make marijuana illegal again. That’s the way it used to be, and we didn’t have all these drug addicted thieves.

  2. Any conservative could have told them how this would turn out. I guess it takes getting burned for Bezos to learn but then again he will probably try other liberal hell holes again and again.

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