San Francisco’s Union Square faced two more major losses on Monday following the pull out of T-Mobile’s flagship store at 1 Stockton Street and the closure of Williams-Sonoma at 340 Post by the end of the year.
The Globe has also been told Pottery Barn on Chestnut street has also closed.
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 within its stores. Higher-end stores have also cited break-ins and crime as major reasons for leaving. And just within the last two months, all Amazon Go stores, Anthropologie, several high-end Union square stores, and the flagship Whole Foods store have all announced that their doors will be closing, along with multiple non-chain stores throughout the city. Less than a week ago, both Nordstrom and Saks Off 5th announced the closure of 3 main locations in the city.
While crime has been cited as the main reason for many going, high rent costs, a lack of customers coming in due to the concurrent office exodus from the city, the homeless crisis keeping many away from parts of the city, and the overall decline of retail have all played a factor in the high number of businesses leaving. However, shifting business strategies and the sale of buildings disrupting tenants have been the core blame for the most recent departures.
T-Mobile’s flagship location, which had long been Apple’s main store in the city, had actually started to shutter last month. However, little attention had been paid to it due to T-Mobile not making an announcement about it and customers simply being redirected by signs outside.
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In a series of statements on Monday, T-Mobile confirmed that the location was gone due to a change in store formats from flagship-style signature stores to more localized stores that move away from the brick and mortar model.
“We recently reshaped our nationwide retail strategy to better take care of customers,” said the company in a statement. “This includes plans we’ve made in this area and a few others to move away from the Signature Store format in some cities to instead serve customers through a nearby Experience store. Employees have been offered roles within the company.”
Meanwhile, sources at the William-Sonoma at 340 Post said that the store will be closing at the end of the year. Few other details were given, although it is known that Chanel bought the location last year for $63 million. More details on that closure will likely come later in the year, including what, if any, store will replace it there.
“You know, we’re just getting numb to these by this point,” Richard Wallace, who helped manage a high-end store in the Square until earlier this year, told the Globe Monday. “Every week there seems to be another closure or two. I’m not sure how certain Williams-Sonoma is since nothing official has come out, but T-Mobile isn’t a surprise. That’s a big location. I mean, that was THE store for Apple for many years.”
“But yeah, closures went from being surprising to frustrating to being the crushing reality of everything in the city. Now it’s like when they announce those big K-Mart or department store closing lists. You just don’t feel it anymore. You’re just so used to it. When I went to a headhunter a few months ago, she just said so matter-of-factly “Oh, another one from the closings?” That’s what it’s like here. It’s like hearing a coal miner lost their job in West Virginia or a factory worker lost their job in Michigan.”
“The city really needs a new strategy soon, or else it’s going to be even more of a ghost town there.”
More closures are expected to be announced in the city soon as more leases end at retail locations.
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