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Citing lawlessness and “chaos,” Cotopaxi CEO Davis Smith announced on his personal LinkedIn page yesterday that he has closed the company’due south sole San Francisco retail location.
“As of today, we are closing the store due to rampant organized theft and lack of safety for our team,” Smith wrote on October 18. “Our store is hit by organized theft rings several times per week.”
In a phone call with
Outside, Smith explained that the closure is due to concerns nigh employee safe, and that employees are being paid while the shop is shuttered. Smith said he hopes the closure is temporary, although he can’t be certain.
“Thanks to that [LinkedIn] post, San Francisco city leaders reached out to me and we’re going to run across tomorrow,” he said. “I wasn’t getting a lot of response before. It’south not that people don’t intendance, it’s just overwhelming. This is something that got attending, though, and I’k hopeful for some conversations and some solutions.”
Smith said that, starting the beginning week afterwards the store opened a yr ago in the metropolis’due south Hayes Valley neighborhood, its windows were repeatedly cleaved out and trade stolen. Plywood and, eventually, wrought iron grates were installed. And so, a few weeks ago, groups of people began rushing into the shop and stealing merchandise, and so the store began locking the door and opening simply for customers. The thieves adapted their tactics by sending one person to the door posing equally a client and then rushing in when the door was unlocked.
“Multiple times in the last week this happened,” Smith told
Outside. “I got a message from the manager 2 days ago that this happened again, and that our employees were afraid for their safety. We made the decision right so that we couldn’t put our employees in that situation, and decided to close and continue to pay them until we could figure out what to do.”
A San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (SFDHSH) study released in Baronial stated that 20,000 people are currently experiencing homelessness in the urban center. That figure represents ii.five per centum of the city’s total population. Despite city-housing programs, for every person housed, four will become unhoused because SFHSH has “non been able to keep stride with inflow of people who become newly homeless or return to homelessness throughout the twelvemonth,” the written report said. Substance abuse, unemployment, mental illness, and dislocation from California wildfires are some of the reasons the written report listed as contributing to the problem.
As for theft in the city, larceny is upwardly by 15 percent compared to this time last twelvemonth, co-ordinate to the San Francisco Police Section, though burglaries have dropped by 21 percent in the same period.
“It’s sad, but San Francisco appears to have descended into a city of chaos,” Smith wrote in his post. “Many streets and parks are overrun with drugs, criminals, and homelessness, and local leadership and law enforcement enable it through inaction. 1 of the most cute and amazing cities in the world is now a place where many no longer feel safe visiting or living.”
Smith said it’south important to non equate homelessness with criminality, but that both issues have made it difficult for Cotopaxi to continue operating its retail operations in San Francisco.
As Smith wrote in his post, “Information technology’southward impossible for a retail store to operate in these circumstances, especially when cities pass up to have any activity (despite united states paying taxes well above any other country nosotros operate in). The urban center recently announced a reduction of police force presence in this neighborhood, despite mass-scale crime.”
In his call with
Outside, Smith said he understands the city’s bug require much more than increased police force presence.
“Nosotros’re not later Rough-and-tumble solutions. We know information technology’due south not just more than police force on the street; we’re looking for long-term problem solving and asking how we can be function of that,” Smith said. “As a make that’s committed to helping elevator communities, this is something we’re thinking a lot about—how can nosotros assist? These issues are complex and it’s going to require governments, business, nonprofits, and citizens to work together to create real solutions.”
Smith grew up throughout Latin America and founded Cotopaxi in 2014 with the intention of helping impoverished communities there. Since then, the B Corp visitor has helped 1.3 one thousand thousand people living in poverty by distributing grants to humanitarian organizations, funding emergency housing help, awarding pocket-sized-business organization loans, and other efforts. Smith said while the problems in the U.Southward. are different than what he’southward seen in other countries, he’s hoping to apply some of what he’s learned to finding solutions here.
“When I posted, I didn’t expect the kind of attention that this would receive,” he said. “A lot of times nosotros love jubilant wins every bit business leaders, and I call up information technology’s important to share things that aren’t going well, besides. That was the hope of my post: a rally cry to ask what we can exercise to assist positive change. How can we work with other businesses and city leadership to do something?”
Cotopaxi currently has x retail locations across the U.S., with plans to open x more in 2023. Smith said he hopes San Francisco remains a home base for i.
“We promise we can open the store again,” Smith said. “We love San Francisco. But we can’t reopen until we know that our employees will be safety. We still have four years left on our lease, but nothing is worth even thinking most risking the safe and welfare of our team members. I spoke out well-nigh our difficulties to first a dialogue that hopefully leads to positive change. It’s our mission to exercise proficient, and we’re willing to work difficult with others to run across adept come out of this.”