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Cole Hardware to close SoMa store due to declining customers, security concerns

Cole’s Hardware in SoMa is having a closing down sale. | Julie Makinen/The Standard

Cole Hardware’s SoMa store will shut its doors on May 31 due to a declining customer base and security concerns, its CFO Rick Karp told The Standard. The company also alerted customers to its closure via a recent email announcement.

The 103-year-old San Francisco hardware store chain had bet big on SoMa before the pandemic as developments popped up around the once up-and-coming neighborhood. 

But since the pandemic, the customer base has been steadily shrinking as incidents with crime and nuisance behavior become more prevalent, according to Karp, who goes by the moniker of Keeper of the Karma, rather than CFO. 

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The 345 Ninth St. location, just blocks from Twitter HQ, had its window smashed at around 10 a.m. Tuesday by a passerby, according to Karp. San Francisco police could not find a report of the incident, but Karp said the store would only call the police if it intended to file a report for insurance purposes.

“Somebody decided to break our front window, just smashed it with their backpack and kept walking,” Karp said. “Our staff have issues with individuals on a daily basis. Security is definitely an issue.” 

But the main issue for the company is the declining customer base that just keeps getting worse, said Karp. 

“Instead of getting close to breaking even, we’re getting further and further away,” Karp said.

Cole’s isn’t the first business to drop out of SoMa, which is often referred to as the neighborhood that’s second-most affected by the city’s drug crisis. In February, Samy’s Camera on the corner of Ninth and Bryant streets also closed its doors.  Ace Plumbing and Rooter Inc. banners now hang from the building Samy’s once occupied.

“I think SoMa’s issues will be chronic for many years to come,” said Karp.

The SoMa store is having a closing-down sale, all items are 25% off.