It is with a sad heart (one can leave their heart in so many wonderful places in San Francisco) that I received the news that Gumps is closing, as in, they are going out of business.
The store has been a Union Square destination shopping spot since the 1890s. I was thrilled to go in at Christmas time last year to buy myself a European glass Christmas ornament. Their iconic catalogs (one for apparel and accessories, one for decor and jewelry) were a coveted item in retail lunch rooms around downtown. The beautiful, expensive, delightful items were, in many cases, true works of art. The finest craftsmanship was obvious in every item. And in the steep prices!
Well, they have pulled the catalogs and stopped taking returns. The sale signs went up in their Post Street picture windows last night. I must confess, once I saw the signs, I went in to see what I might find at a discount. I decided to find a keepsake. And I did. I purchased a deliciously sublime floral fragrance in a beautiful glass spray bottle, appropriately called Casablanca. It turns out, once I put my glasses on, that I’d scooped up a room freshener. Oh well, I will still wear it and be wistfully remembering my old time San Francisco.
That indescribable essence of what it was to be a native San Franciscan.
The sad news of such a long standing local business going bankrupt is not a new one. But this one hurts more than most. When Shreeve jewellers moved out of their namesake building and opened a new store on Post a few years ago, it was shocking, but not as heartbreaking as the news of Gumps closing their doors forever.
Forever is such a long time! But, farewell to Gumps. Farewell to a little more bit of civility and sophistication as it leaves our fair city. Farewell to ladies who lunch then shop at Gumps. While we’re at it, farewell to most of what made San Francisco– San Francisco. It keeps packing up and leaving us behind to deal with the loss of that indescribable essence of what it was to be a native San Franciscan.