Heavy Security Wasn't Enough to Keep One Whole Foods Open

A 'flagship store' in San Francisco has been battling theft and disturbances
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2023 11:27 AM CDT
Heavy Security Wasn't Enough to Keep One Whole Foods Open
A photo of another Whole Foods location.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

A massive Whole Foods "flagship store" that opened in March 2022 in San Francisco has temporarily shut down, with the grocer saying the move was necessary to "ensure the safety" of its workers. Whole Foods did not elaborate on the closure of the 65,000-square-foot store, but SFGate got details from District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey; he represents the mid-Market neighborhood where the store sits and said there were two main drivers: retail theft and in-store disturbances from individuals with mental illness or drug issues.

  • The road to here. The San Francisco Standard reports thefts at the location caused Whole Foods to trim the store's hours in October. Employees reportedly also found drug paraphernalia in the bathrooms, prompting a new access system in which anyone wishing to use the bathroom would have to show their receipt to a security guard and get a QR code for entry.
  • Security costs. A manager told the Standard in November the store had a heavy security presence, with a minimum of three guards at all times. "I've got so much security—we’re spending more on security than any other store, I would imagine," the manager said.
  • Dorsey's take. "Those are issues Whole Foods employees shouldn’t have to deal with. Do I wish Whole Foods had talked to us and found a way to stay? I do, but I refuse to blame them for responding to an issue we should have been addressing all along."
  • Things get political. SFGate reports Dorsey plans to introduce a charter amendment that would mandate a minimum number of police officers in San Francisco. Getting it past the Board of Supervisors may be tough, but if he does, the question would go to voters in the next city election, expected in March 2024.
  • The larger picture. Quartz cites SFPD data that shows the top category of reported crime last year was larceny theft.
(More Whole Foods stories.)

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