Gump’s to Come Back Home To San Francisco

Business, Business News

Gump’s, the iconic luxury retailer, is making its way back home to San Francisco under the new leadership of the Chachas family. The store is more than 150 years old.


Gump’s closed last year before being taken over by new ownership. It is now to reopen at 250 Post St. in Union Square, a block away from where it closed just last December. The move has delighted San Francisco retailers, Gump’s being a popular outlet with a long history in the region.


After the closure of the store, Mr. John Chachas took action to purchase the company. He had formerly served as Gump’s President and was fascinated with Gump’s even as a boy, often visiting the store in his youth. The store is now under the ownership of the Chachas family and is soon reopening for business.


However, the store might not remain at 250 Post St. forever, due to a shifting economic and social environment. The current plan is to keep the store open for 4 months to observe how it fares against steep rents, a retail labor shortage, and concerns about homelessness and crime in the wider San Francisco area. If everything goes well, the store will remain there indefinitely.


The store is to occupy a previous location of 250 Post Street, where it resided from 1909 to 1994. However, the store will not be quite the same size, at just 2,000 square feet, which is significantly smaller than its previous size. Speaking on the move, Vice President Anne Chachas indicated that:


“Gump’s is such a whimsical, elegant, old-school store with a rich San Francisco history, and we’re ecstatic to bring it back. We promise the same service and sophistication that Gump’s was known for.”


In terms of the future functioning of the Gump’s establishment, few alterations are to be made, and the former traditions are to be carried out. It will sell what Gump’s has always been known to sell – jewelry and jades, finely crafted ornaments, tableware, linens, apparel and furniture, all as unique and exotic as possible. Most of the Gump’s customers in the San Francisco area tend to be aged between 30 – 40 and somewhat affluent.


The time leading up to Christmas is particularly relevant for customers, a time noted for gift giving and luxury purchases. A 1966 Chronicle Newspaper article by Herb Caen stated that “The city waits for Gump’s Christmas windows each season the way it waits for S.F. Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker.’”


The story of how Gump’s passed into the ownership of the Chachas family is an interesting one, with multiple twists. Mr. John Chachas arranged a deal to buy Gump’s in 2005, connecting buyers with the sale. Because he could not get the arrangement fee that he wanted, he asked for a statue of the Buddha instead. The statue had been acquired for $800 in 1957, but Mr. Chachas had a feeling that it was far more valuable.


In 2007, an appraisal revealed that the statue was worth $240,000, more than he had asked for in return for arranging the agreement. But he would eventually sell the statue for a figure far beyond this. Mr. Chachas sold the statue for the equivalent of $4 Million at a Hong Kong auction. This is 18 times more than the price he asked for to make the initial arrangement.


The proceeds of the sale would be used in the purchase of Gump’s, and he bought the brand name and trademarks for $650,000. He would also set up an investment firm, Methuselah investors, in 2010, and work on a number of high profile transactions such as the sale of the Rolling Stone magazine.


In the meantime, Gump’s would file for bankruptcy, and Mr. Chachas would end up with the entire company and reopen the store, much to the delight of local shoppers. One thing that will be missing is the statue of the Buddha – Mr. Chachas had to design a high-quality replica to replace the initial one, as a condition in the initial contract. But there is no space in the new building, and some things do have to change.


Gump’s was originally founded in 1861 by two brothers, Solomon and Gustave Gump. While it started out as a mirror and frame shop, it soon transformed to a retailer of worldwide exotic gifts, particularly from the East. The store offers a special place in the hearts of shoppers due to its long history and unique product range, and nostalgia at the reopening is evident. According to retired artistic director and San Franciso resident Susan Stauter:


“I’ll be the first one in line. I spent a lot of time at the store because it was such a wonderful place to be. For me it was an alternative universe, the Buddha, the ambiance, the people and the environment — all of it was charming”


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