The Cotopaxi store on Hayes Street, San Francisco, Calif.; (photo/Google Maps)

Cotopaxi Hires Private Security to Reopen San Francisco Store

The Bay Area location closed on Oct. 18 due to ‘rampant organized theft’ and safety concerns. Now, it reopens under tighter surveillance.

A shuttered Cotopaxi retail location in San Francisco reopened today after hiring private security, Cotopaxi founder and CEO Davis Smith announced.

Three weeks ago, Smith announced the initial closing of the Hayes Street Cotopaxi location via a LinkedIn post notable for its strong language regarding crime in San Francisco.

“It’s sad, but San Francisco appears to have descended into a city of chaos. Many streets and parks are overrun with drugs, criminals, and homelessness, and local leadership and law enforcement enable it through inaction,” Smith wrote. “Our store is hit by organized theft rings several times per week.”

However, Davis and his team then launched into discussions with neighborhood groups and the San Francisco Police Department. Those “productive” sessions allowed Davis’ team to reopen the store — under increased security.

“Cotopaxi is pleased to announce that after productive and positive meetings with Hayes Valley Merchants Association, the Board of Supervisors, and SFPD, measures have been put in place to allow us to reopen our storefront once again,” said Smith in the post. “We have also hired full-time private security.”

Cotopaxi responded to GearJunkie’s request for further comment, but could not confirm details beyond what Smith had already said.

Via an email the San Francisco Standard obtained, a Cotopaxi spokesperson said city police had agreed to “increase supervision” in the area.

‘Our team is terrified.’

Smith’s account of what led to the embattled store’s October closure details a hectic situation. In the year it was open, the location replaced its windows after thieves broke them on five separate occasions, he wrote.

Eventually, the store resorted to plywood while it waited for a security gate. Still, thieves targeted the store multiple times per week during business hours, according to Smith.

Then, the store began locking its doors and admitting customers on a case-by-case basis, he wrote. But, he continued, the thieves responded by tricking employees into opening the doors and then rushing in to grab gear.

“Our team is terrified. They feel unsafe. Security guards don’t help because these theft rings know that security guards won’t/can’t stop them. It’s impossible for a retail store to operate in these circumstances, especially when cities refuse to take any action,” Smith said.

‘My intent was not to tear down San Francisco.’

Smith’s reopening announcement gained traction quickly Thursday, as the CEO sought to strike a hopeful tone and reconfirm the brand’s anti-poverty mission.

In the post, Smith announced a “renewal” of Cotopaxi’s partnership with the Tipping Point Community. The local nonprofit seeks to advance “poverty-fighting solutions” in the Bay Area by investing in housing, education, and employment.

The brand had partnered with the nonprofit prior to the Hayes Street store’s 2021 opening.

“My intent was not to tear down San Francisco, a city I have loved since childhood and where I have family, but it was to transparently share something that was going badly for us, something disappointing that we were going through,” Smith wrote. “We recognize that if we want change, we have to be part of the change we want to see, so we’re here to help.”

Data the San Francisco Chronicle recently analyzed from 2020 (the most recent available) showed that though the city was not experiencing high levels of crime per capita, property crime was unusually high.

According to the data, crime in the city was 21% below average when compared to 21 other cities with populations of 700,000 or more. However, property crime including burglary and theft was 41% above average.

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Andrew Marshall
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Andrew Marshall is a writer, painter, and photographer with work in publications across the web. Andrew lives, runs, bikes, paddles, and skis in the Tahoe basin on the California/Nevada state line. He's one of the few unapologetic cat people in the outdoor industry. You can find him on Instagram (@andrewmarshallimages) or Twitter (@pawn_andrew).