A retail store as iconic to San Francisco as Macy’s Herald Square is to Manhattan may close its doors after 160 years because of the city’s deteriorating conditions, warned its CEO in a Sunday interview.
San Francisco retailer Gump’s CEO John Chachas told Martha MacCallum, host of the Fox program “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” that high crime and rampant public drug use may compel him to relocate outside California.
“It’s a sad state of affairs,” Chachas told MacCallum. “I spoke to a customer today who’s come to us for 50 consecutive Christmases and who won’t come back because the city is in a difficult and awfully dirty condition.”
Gump’s CEO noted people want to visit San Francisco and visit his store but are deterred by conditions on the streets of the city.
“If you can’t get around and when you’re trying to walk the streets you step over needles and human waste and often bodies on the streets, it makes it an unworkable business environment,” Chachas continued.
“Empty offices on the one hand and that element on the other makes for an unworkable business center,” he added.
“I think it can be fixed. I hope it can be fixed. I do. I do have ideas of how to fix it, but unless politicians change their point of view about this, it’s a very, very tough thing.”
MacCallum seemed bewildered that Mayor London Breed and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) were not taking stronger action to keep businesses in the city and the state by addressing declining conditions.
“I’ve heard by email from a couple of the members of the Board of Supervisors who I think are really chagrined at this kind of news,” responded the CEO. “I have in the past spoken to representatives of Mayor Breed’s office.”
Chachas added he has not spoken to anyone from Newsom’s office but thinks his announcement may galvanize some kind of state response.
“I hope, because this is not unique to us,” Chachas said. “This is every small or medium-sized business in the city of San Francisco cannot survive. These kinds of things are incompatible with successful business.”
He said it would be tragic if businesses reach the point where departing the state seems their best option to save their business.
MacCallum clarified with Chachas that he isn’t considering closing Gump’s but is contemplating relocating, which Chachas confirmed.
“I don’t think we know yet,” the Gump’s CEO said about possible relocation locations.
“First, I hope we don’t have to,” Chachas continued. “I would really like to see some things corrected, but if we had to, we sell in all 50 states, we have dedicated people in all the places that you would want to be: Florida, Texas.”
“There’s lots of great places to be, you know, but our heart is in San Francisco,” he added. “We want to be in a healthy city.”