One of the largest supermarkets in Downtown San Francisco—the Whole Foods Market at Eighth and Market streets—intends to shut down at the close of business Monday just a little more than a year after the store opened, company officials told The Standard.
“We are closing our Trinity location only for the time being,” a Whole Foods spokesperson 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.”
A City Hall source told The Standard the company cited deteriorating street conditions around drug use and crime near the grocery store as a reason for its closure.
Since the start of the pandemic, Downtown has suffered a massive loss in foot traffic due to remote work. Many small businesses have shuttered, while examples of extreme poverty, drug use and mental illness on the street have become more apparent. Fears of a “doom loop” in which a cascade of negative financial impacts compound have spread across the city, and City Hall officials currently expect a nearly $800 million deficit in San Francisco’s budget.
One idea recently floated to confront the crisis is converting vacant Downtown office space into thousands of units of student housing.
The beleaguered grocery store on Market Street slashed its operating hours due to “high theft” and hostile visitors in October of last year, according to one of the store’s managers. And in November, the store enforced new bathroom rules after syringes and pipes were found in the restroom.
The market takes up 64,737 square feet, and the company called the mid-Market neighborhood location its “flagship store” in a press release announcing the supermarket’s opening in March 2022.
Allyn Mejia, an organizer at the nearby Housing Rights Committee, said that she regularly gets lunch at the Trinity Whole Foods location and shops at the market for groceries twice a week.
“They just barely opened up,” Mejia said. “I hope they open again.”
Mejia said she wasn’t surprised about security concerns being the reason for the store’s closure.
“I’ve seen security run into the store real quick before, like, something happened,” she said.
Hours before the store’s scheduled closure Monday, much of the market’s aisles were still full of food and other goods for sale. Workers continued to line shelves with Whole Foods standbys, including organic cereal and probiotic drinks.
Multiple staff members, including the store’s manager, declined to comment.
Supervisor Matt Dorsey, whose district includes the Whole Foods Market, said he was “incredibly disappointed” by the store’s shutdown in a Twitter thread posted Monday afternoon.
Dorsey announced he will introduce new legislation with Supervisor Catherine Stefani to amend the City Charter and get the Police Department fully staffed within five years.
Earlier this month, The Standard reported that the department was down 335 officers since 2017 and its staffing level of 1,537 officers fell well short of its goal of having 2,100 members on the force.