Another San Francisco business has announced they will be pulling up stakes and moving out of the city because of intolerable crime and homelessness.
On Wednesday, the CEO of Cotopaxi, a high-end outdoor gear retailer, left a lengthy post on LinkenIn explaining the move. Davis Smith expressed sadness at what has become of San Francisco, saying that after only a year in business on Hayes Street, the crime and homeless situation has become too much for employees to handle. Smith says the store had their windows smashed out in just their first week in operation. They then had to replace the windows with plywood while they waited over a month for expensive metal security gates – gates that were on backorder because of high demand in the area.
The Cotopaxi founder also said they’ve been hit by organized crime rings repeatedly. Even locking the doors and only opening to customers didn’t work to keep criminals out of the store. Security guards were rendered pointless and with police presence dwindling, Smith says the only option for the safety of his employees is to close the San Francisco location. He added his own terrifying experience with crime and the police response.
It’s sad, but San Francisco appears to have descended into a city of chaos. Many streets and parks are overrun with drugs, criminals, and homelessness, and local leadership and law enforcement enable it through inaction. One of the most beautiful and amazing cities in the world is now a place where many no longer feel safe visiting or living. We opened a retail store a year ago on Hayes Street, the charming shopping district just blocks away from the famous Full House home. Our first week there, our windows were smashed and thousands of dollars of product was stolen. We replaced the window, and it immediately happened again (four times). We replaced with window with plywood as we waited for a month+ to get a metal security gate installed (demand for those gates is creating huge delays). As of today, we are closing the store due to rampant organized theft and lack of safety for our team. Our store is hit by organized theft rings several times per week. They brazenly enter the store and grab thousands of dollars of product and walk out. We started keeping the door locked and opening it only for customers, but even then, they’ll have a woman go to the door, and then hiding individuals rush into the store as soon as the door opens. Our team is terrified. They feel unsafe. Security guards don’t help because these theft rings know that security guards won’t/can’t stop them. It’s impossible for a retail store to operate in these circumstances, especially when cities refuse to take any action (despite us paying taxes well above any other state we operate in). The city recently announced a reduction of police presence in this neighborhood, despite mass-scale crime. It makes me sad that I’m now avoiding San Francisco, a city I used to love. Last time my wife and I went in 2020, a drugged up person ran up to my wife’s face and started screaming some of the most obscene things I’ve ever heard. She was terrified. During a previous trip, my rental car was broken into and everything was stolen out of our trunk. When calling the police to report the theft, they let us know this happens hundreds of times per day in the city and said it was our own fault for parking in the street. I grew up in Latin America and spent much of my adult life there, and I never felt this unsafe there. Something has to change in San Francisco.
Cotopaxi prides itself in being a company committed to sustainable and environmentally friendly policies. Their mission statement is dedicated to environmental responsibility. They even donate to many “green” causes.
We believe the products that get us exploring can make a positive impact in other people’s lives. That’s why we create sustainably designed outdoor gear that fuels both adventure and global change, by dedicating a percentage of our revenues to nonprofits working to improve the human condition.
They are the exactly the type of company that a city like San Francisco would and should welcome. It is a sad irony that a company with a mission that is so closely aligned with Democrat political talking points is now forced to close their doors because of Democrat politics and negligence.
Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, some of the responses to Smith’s explanation were dismissive, rude, and indicative of the real problem – too many people refuse to face the truth of Democrat policies because of their own personal politics.
One commenter actually suggested Smith hire social workers for his store.
I don’t know why I am commenting on a post with this much attention because I find it pointless, but I do have to ask something. Has Cotopaxi or the businesses around tried to create some community for the homeless and unfortunate in that area? Something to the affect of let’s watch out for each other? Cotopaxi and the other businesses serving breakfasts, or dinners and being welcoming? Funding some public bathrooms right near by and offering old/unsellable product for free. Offering day jobs doing some cleaning of the street? Could you create a coalition of those who will protect your street or watch out for it because they know they are welcomed and loved there? It may draw a lot of attention, more than you can handle, but if you could start a dialogue with people, should you try? Even if they may be addicts or mentally ill? Could those people help send a message that your street is safe and criminals beware, everyone here watches out for each other? I would want to at least try that. Maybe you hire social workers to work at your store?
Social workers…to deal with theft rings?
Another thinks Cotopaxi just needs to stop with all that silly capitalism and get more into the business of…social services?
Its sad how almost every comment in here is saying we should use more violence and show less empathy in these circumstances, which is what started this problem in the first place. Grand idea, what if instead of treating property and capital as more important than humans, we start investing in affordable housing, social services for low-income and dispossessed peoples (actual services – with no strings attached), and begin to actually look at the root causes of the issues of San Fran (untethered capital interests and government corruption) as opposed to damning the individuals that are just victims of the problem. I don’t think Cotopaxi is at fault for anything that has happened, but the idea that this has not been created and perpetuated by our current system is preposterous.
Oh, how wonderful this person doesn’t fault Cotopaxi. How on earth would any of this be their fault? They don’t need to be absolved of anything, but thanks for playing.
“We do things differently.” What if instead of amplifying tired rhetoric by calling for more police — a conversation that propagates the existence of historically racist, oppressive, and violent institutions — you used this platform to advocate for the vital programs — education, health care, housing, etc. — that need more funding to strengthen our communities and support more equitable well-being? That would be different.
Does this person understand Cotopaxi makes camping gear? Perhaps Davis Smith is expected to just let his employees suffer violence while whatever this commenter is doing to solve the world’s problems begins to take effect.
People complain about crime and lawlessness and the need for a greater police force… No, more police won’t help. What you need to focus on is creating opportunities for the people feel that crime is their only opportunity for survival.
“Creating on opportunities for the people [who] feel that crime is their only opportunity for survival?” Like – and hear me out – providing good jobs at a retail store in San Francisco?
Not all the comments were from the clueless, gated-community types. Others supported Smith’s decision and empathized with the impossible situation the company finds itself in.
The Patagonia store in San Francisco has had the very same issues over the last few years. That store has been in the same location for over 30 years with only typical occasional “big-city” issues. Starting about 3 years ago the break-ins, grab and runs, and intimidation has dramatically escalated to a daily occurrence. The staff is terrified and all loss prevention measures have been taken. I would caution any retailer from doing business in San Francisco at this point. Hoping for the best for your team.
One person had a personal tale to share.
My last trip to S.F. I parked in the Civic Center underground paid garage. My truck was broken into, window smashed, items stolen. About $1,200 in damage. Unless things change, I will never drive into the city again. How can city leadership and law enforcement justify this descent into lawlessness?
Another noted Cotopaxi’s contributions to the community.
Very sad to hear this is only getting worse. This is such a great street and a lot of pride went into the thoughtful store design, neighborhood giveback and spreading the Do Good message.
Unfortunately for Smith and his company, the progressive mindset (at least on social media) is that you are only welcome as long as you ignore reality and stick to the talking points. Cotopaxi has, by all accounts, been an incredibly charitable and environmentally friendly company. Instead of getting support from the political class and their progressive counterparts, they are excoriated by the left for choosing the safety of their employees over loyalty to a dying city with pathetically weak leadership.
Cotopaxi is a Utah based company and continues to sell their products online and in other areas across the nation.