Nordstrom closes its flagship store in crime-ridden San Francisco: ‘A sad day’

Nordstrom’s crime-ridden San Francisco flagship store closed its doors for the last time Sunday in a strip mall where fentanyl “zombies” now roam among drug dealers and thieves.

Dozens of shoppers were seen over the weekend traversing mostly deserted aisles in search of souvenirs from the swanky former department store, which once boasted a five-star spa, champagne and caviar bar and live pianist. , while the police patrolled outside.

“It’s a sad day,” a shopper named Julie told ABC 7 of the store, which was greeted with much fanfare when it first opened at the corner of Market and Fifth streets in the San Francisco Center mall 35 years ago.

“It is a wonderful store. It has been an anchor in San Francisco,” the buyer added of Nordstrom’s, which had occupied 312,000 square feet over five floors of the mall.

Another customer, Denise Alexander, said: “It’s a bit depressing, being a San Francisco native, to see downtown disappearing.”

Drugged homeless men were seen slumped on the sidewalk outside the store Sunday before it closed.

A man was struggling to his feet while holding a small pipe and trying to pick up an unidentified drug from the cobbled path in front of Nordstom’s gates.

“Yeah, that’s normal around here,” a shopper told the Post as she left the mall.

Nearby, on Market Street, a homeless man slept inside a bulldozer left behind by city workers, while around the government-owned San Francisco Federal Building, patrons smoked and injected drugs.

“We have attracted so many people with mental illness and drug addiction because of [Mayor London Breed’s] policies because of things I would like to call ‘toxic charity,’” Ricci Lee Wynne, a community activist who lives less than a mile from Downtown San Francisco, told The Post.

“We provide [the addicts] with paraphernalia, we provide them with free phones, we provide general assistance with almost no sobriety requirements. It doesn’t make sense,” Wynne said. “Taxpayer money should not go to fuel these people’s drug habit.”

A family walks past a Nordstrom with a "Store Closing Sale" in the window.Nordstrom’s crime-ridden San Francisco flagship store closed its doors for the last time on Sunday. David G. McIntyre for NY Post
A woman is seen walking through the empty store.Dozens of shoppers milled through the mostly empty aisles of the 312,000-square-foot Nordstrom’s. Getty Images
A man is seen examining a rack of clothing next to a roped off section of the store.Shoppers at the store on its last day called the closure “sad” and “depressing.” Getty Images

Nordstrom announced in May that it was closing the store and a nearby Nordstrom Rack due to declining sales, and Jamie Nordstrom, the company’s director of stores, noted that “the dynamics of the downtown San Francisco market have changed dramatically in recent years.” years, impacting customer traffic to our stores and our ability to operate successfully.”

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An employee at the store told ABC 7 that the closure “is definitely partly due to crime in the area; COVID-19 had a big impact.”

Law enforcement dispatch data obtained by the San Francisco Standard shows police regularly patrolled the Westfield mall over the past year as crime spiraled out of control.

Agents logged nearly 560 “pasage calls,” in which police officers patrol the area to demonstrate police presence, at the mall during the one-year period ending May 1, 2023.

The mannequins are kept in a corner of the Nordstrom flagship store.The shop, now shuttered, once featured a five-star spa, a champagne and caviar bar, and a live pianist.Getty Images

Frustrated locals said they are tired of seeing big-name stores disappear from the neighborhood as drug use and sales and homelessness thrive.

Wynne said he was attacked by drug dealers when he recently tried to film their operation at the corner of Market and Eighth streets.

During his daily walk on Sunday, he pointed out the tents blocking buildings that once housed restaurants, hotels and banks.

A security guard stands outside the San Francisco Center shopping mall, which was operated by Westfield before it retired.A security guard stands outside the San Francisco Center shopping mall, which was operated by Westfield before the company pulled out. Getty Images

Walking toward the San Francisco federal building, Wynne walked past more than 40 homeless men and women who were openly dealing and using drugs Sunday afternoon on federal government property.

Many of them had open lesions and scabs on their bodies, a possible side effect of mixing fentanyl with xylazine, more commonly known as “tranq,” which is a tranquilizer typically used on animals and known to transform those who consume it. in “zombies”.

An elderly woman selling food and cigarettes was sitting a few feet from homeless men and women who were smoking and injecting drugs on federal property.

Signs announcing the closure of a retail store are seen through a store window as many retailers move out of the area.Signs announcing the closure of a retail store are seen through a store window as many retailers move out of the area.Getty Images

Wynne said that some seniors who receive products from local food banks often resell them to drug addicts for less than what the stores charge.

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Less than a mile from the Federal Building, the men gathered outside a vacant building at 1128 Market St. where they were selling items stolen from local stores, including shampoo, gum and clothing.

Meanwhile, Walgreens and other similar stores in the area have blocked most items in their stores, including candy bars, laundry soap and baby formula, due to a rise in store theft.

Shelves are empty inside the once popular Nordstrom store days before its official closing.Shelves are empty inside the once popular Nordstrom store days before its official closing. Getty Images

A security guard at a local store told The Post that at least five robberies occur at the place where he works every day. Most of the thieves end up selling the goods near the vacant building at 1128 Market St., he said.

“I can’t use force, so there’s nothing I can do,” said the guard, who wanted to remain anonymous. “On my eight-hour shift, we catch at least 15 people breaking in and stealing, and it’s worse on the weekends.

“We can’t help it, but all we can do is try to reduce the damage they’re causing. The policemen come when we call them, they take a description for 10 minutes and then they leave, ”he said. “Nothing helps. This is the reality of living and working here.”

During a year-long period ending in May, emergency dispatchers received reports of hundreds of potential crimes in Downtown San Francisco, including 118 petty thefts, 64 fights, 41 grand thefts and 24 robberies.

    A station blocks a section of the Nordstrom flagship store where accessories are stored.A station blocks a section of the Nordstrom flagship store where accessories were stored. Getty Images

The mall was owned by Westfield, but the company also withdrew from the downtown area, citing significant declines in sales and a lack of foot traffic. The mall has remained open with other stores like H&M and Bloomingdales, but losing another flagship store like Nordstrom is another blow for the downtown shopping corridor.

Sales tax revenue for the South of Market neighborhood, or SoMa, where the mall is located, also saw a 25 percent decline from the first quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2023.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has said she is working to change laws and reform taxes to attract more businesses.

Pictured is the former San Francisco Center shopping mall.San Francisco Mayor London Breed has talked about turning the mall into a soccer stadium. David G. McIntyre for NY Post

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After Nordstrom’s closure was announced in May, Breed held a press conference announcing increased funding for the area’s revitalization.

Earlier this month, he also announced that the city is looking into the idea of ​​converting the Westfield-run mall into a soccer stadium.

“We know we need to combat crime, public safety, affordability and transportation issues,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But I am optimistic about the future, because what we are seeing in San Francisco is unlike anything before.

“We have the possibility to be what we want to be.”

But rampant crime isn’t just limited to San Francisco, as the Los Angeles police have also reported months of violent robberies.

Recently, dozens of shoplifters wearing hoodies and masks descended on another Nordstrom store in Topanga.

A police vehicle is seen parked outside the Westfield Mall.Police on Sunday patrol outside the San Francisco mall where Nordstrom’s flagship store last closed its doors. Getty Images

Shocking surveillance video showed the robbers attacking security guards with bear spray before running out of the store with luxury items.

“Certainly, what happened at our Topanga store worries us all,” Nordstrom said. “The safety of employees and customers is always the top priority. But the loss is worrisome.”

The company reported “all-time highs” in store theft losses during an earnings conference call last week, echoing complaints recently filed by other major retailers including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ulta Beauty and Target.

The Nordstrom in the Westfield shopping center.The Nordstrom occupied five floors of the mall and was once its main attraction. Getty Images

“I would say we find it unacceptable and [it] it must be addressed,” an executive told investors after the retailer reported an 8.3% drop in sales in the second quarter that ended July 29.

“That being said, while unacceptable, it is within our plans,” added the Nordstrom superior. “We have not seen a continued increase in shrinkage that has exceeded what was planned.”

Nordstrom’s chief financial officer, Catherine Smith, added: “We continue to see a cautious consumer,” noting that sales slowed at both its namesake stores and discount brand Nordstrom Rack during the third quarter.

The company warned that delinquencies could gradually increase.

“[Delinquencies] they are now above pre-pandemic levels, which could result in further credit losses in the second half and through 2024,” Smith said.

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