Whole Foods Market
- A San Francisco Whole Foods was the site of crime and hazardous behavior, the New York Times reported.
- Visitors made hundreds of emergency calls for knife assaults, thefts, and a deadly drug overdose.
- Whole Foods closed the location last month, citing “the safety of our team members.”
Whole Foods’ recently closed flagship store in San Francisco was the site of thefts, assaults, and a deadly overdose in the 13 months it was open.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that the store was the scene of hundreds of calls to emergency services and 14 arrests, according to police reports. Last September, a man died due to an overdose of fentanyl and methamphetamine, according to the reports seen by the Times.
Visitors to the store also threatened security guards with knives and, in one case, sprayed employees with foam from a fire extinguisher, according to the Times. In another case, a customer tried to “defecate on the floor,” per the Times.
Thefts were also common, with patrons stealing alcohol, food from the hot bar, and even hundreds of hand baskets meant to be used while shopping in the store, the story says.
A Whole Foods spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the Times’ article.
Whole Foods closed the store last month, just over a year after it opened. While the grocer did not specifically cite crime, it did say that it closed the store “to ensure the safety of our team members.”
The store was located on Market Street, one of the busiest roads in downtown San Francisco. It was meant to be part of a revitalization of the area: Since the start of the pandemic, office workers who once frequented the area have worked from home, making it harder for businesses to stay open, according to the Times.
The area around the Whole Foods location has faced issues with “open-air drug use,” according to the Times.
Bill Scott, San Francisco’s police chief, told the Times that his department sent plain-clothes police officers to the Whole Foods store in an effort to limit crime before it closed.
Other retail chains in San Francisco and other large cities have closed locations, citing crime or safety. But some of these claims have been disputed.
Walgreens closed some San Francisco locations in 2021 due to shoplifting, but the company’s CFO said earlier this year that the chain “cried too much” over those issues.
Last summer, Starbucks closed locations across Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and other cities citing a “high volume of challenging incidents that make it unsafe to continue to operate.” Employees at some Starbucks locations that closed told Insider that drug use and other safety hazards were at their stores, while others said those problems were overblown.
Are you a Whole Foods employee or shopper with a story to share? Reach out to Alex Bitter at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Signal encrypted messaging at 808-854-4501.