SAN FRANCISCO— A Whole Foods “Flagship” store located at 1185 Market Street – one of Downtown San Francisco’s largest supermarkets – has closed its doors indefinitely on Monday, April 10, due to worsening street conditions surrounding drug use and crime. This location ceases its operations only a year after its grand opening at Trinity Place in the city’s Mid Market neighborhood in March 2022. 

“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.”

The 64,737 square foot grocery store cut down its operating hours back in October to help curb the amount of “high theft and hostile visitors” it was experiencing. The store was allegedly spending a lot on security, with three security guards on at any time, The San Francisco Standard reported. The large security presence was still not enough to limit the amount of merchandise thefts. 

The following month in November, the grocery store had to change its bathroom policy after finding needles, syringes and pipes in the restrooms. Shoppers had to show proof of purchase in order to get a QR code from security to then gain access. 

San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Matt Dorsey tweeted that he was “incredibly disappointed but sadly unsurprised” with the decision to close. “Our neighborhood waited a long time for this supermarket, but we’re also well aware of problems they’ve experienced with drug-related retail theft, adjacent drug markets, and the many safety issues related to them,” he added.

Canyon News spoke with Gwen Keller, a woman who worked at a Trader Joe’s on Fourth and Market Streets – just blocks away from Whole Foods – from 2016 to 2018.

“Before we had a code to get into the bathroom, I found a young girl who OD’d and died in the bathroom,” Keller told Canyon News. “All I remember is that the ER people who came in to try and revive her were very nonchalant about the situation, they said this happens all the time in the area,” Keller said.

 “It was common to find people sleeping in the bathroom as well, we even discovered a man who was living in the building for a couple days; my manager found his bed set up in the building,” Keller continued. “People suffering from schizophrenia or having manic episodes would come in and harass the employees and thefts were happening all the time.” 

Since the pandemic and the start of remote work, there’s been a major loss of foot traffic in the Downtown area and a rise in extreme poverty and individuals suffering from drug addiction and mental illness in the streets. 

The lack of a fully staffed police force is credited to be attributing to the surmounting safety problems in the city. On March 28, Dorsey announced “The San Francisco Police Department Full Staffing Act” which, if enacted, would mandate a five year plan to build a fully staffed municipal police force in the City and County of San Francisco.