One-hundred and thirteen years after historic boutique Gump’s burned down and was rebuilt, San Francisco’s oldest store is ready for another resurrection.
After closing up shop in December, the luxury specialty store was salvaged by New York investment banker John Chachas and his family, who plan to reopen in the city’s Union Square area on Monday.
Gump’s was renowned for its distinctive and beautiful gifts, jewelry, decorative home furnishings and women’s apparel and accessories, as well as a history that dates back to California’s Gold Rush era, with the store’s founding in 1861. So when the company filed for bankruptcy last year, liquidated its merchandise and closed its doors in December, the news shocked the Bay Area.
Enter the Chachas family. According to Anne Chachas, Gump’s executive vice president and head of marketing, the family is “thrilled to bring Gump’s back to San Francisco.”
The location — a 2,000-square-foot site at 250 Post Street, between Grant Avenue and Stockton Street — isn’t exactly new. The business operated out of that location for 85 years, starting in 1909, and a descendant of the founding Gump family owns a majority stake in the property.
Although it’s smaller than the store’s previous location, a sprawling venue about a block away that stretched across three floors, the new owners promise that long-time patrons will find the same flair and curation the store is known for.
“We know what this store means to so many, and we promise the same exceptional treasures, service and sophistication that have long been the hallmarks of the Gump’s shopping experience,” Anne Chachas said.
There is, however, some uncertainty over how long the latest incarnation will last. Initial plans to stay open are reportedly only set for four months. Normally, that might make it a pop-up, but the company rejects any such characterization.
“We are back in San Francisco where we’ve been for 157 years. We would like to be here another 150 years, but we will see how things go. The decision was to have a comparatively short term lease at 250 Post Street. San Francisco is a mess,” Gump’s owner John Chachas said, blaming bad urban policy for issues such as homelessness and crime.
Chachas said the retailer has the option to renew its lease, but added, “If our customer has left because [the] city isn’t pleasant to be in, we might exit San Francisco entirely.” On the other hand, if things go well, “We might stay and add another location in San Francisco or open a larger location in San Francisco.”
The wait-and-see approach is logical. With the holidays coming up, and the store’s location in the premium Union Square neighborhood commanding a higher-than-average rent in one of the most expensive real estate and commercial rental markets in the country, Chachas wants to test drive the space first.
Of course, instead of discussing when or if the business might shutter again, Gump’s would rather focus on the relaunch.
The company promises that longtime patrons will find “familiar heritage brands, the design store, Gump’s signature selection of unique, bespoke fine jewelry and jade pieces, the legendary Christmas Shoppe and other endearing traditions and Gump’s impeccable personalized service,” according to the press release.
And despite being a historical retailer, Gump’s won’t stay stuck in the past: The company plans to relaunch e-commerce around the middle of October, and hopes to diversify its consumer base.
“We have an older, wealthy customer,” Chachas said. “We’d always love to have a younger, affluent consumer. We have to find a way to appeal to young people.”