A new poll from the Office of Small Business says that a third of SF small businesses were not just victims of crime, but victims of crime between two and ten times last year.
It gets a ton of “doom loop”-themed press coverage when a large retailer closes their San Francisco store, but much of that press coverage is driven by a national press obsession with bashing San Francisco. The reality is that a CNN analysis last week found that big retailers like Walmart, Starbucks, CVS, and others are closing stores all over the country, in decisions likely influenced by their shareholders and publicly traded stock prices.
To get a sense of what the San Francisco business landscape looks like, it may be more instructive to look to local SF small businesses. And that’s what the SF Office of Small Business and SF State University did in a poll of more than 800 local small businesses, according to KRON4, to get the perspectives of San Francisco small business owners.
And boy do they have perspectives. One location of Le Marais bakery has gone viral over the repeated denials of their storefront vandalism relief grant funds for multiple break-ins and robberies.
The full poll results noted it was common that small businesses faced barriers to available grants, tax credits, and other forms of financial assistance. One respondent told the pollsters, “It was many sleepless nights trying to look at this paperwork to figure out what you needed, what you did, and how to calculate this stuff. It was super confusing and very stressful.”
The poll found the biggest challenge for SF small business was an “increase in the costs of goods” which is not a uniquely San Francisco problem. But the second and third biggest challenges they detailed were “dirty and smelly streets” and “lack of customers,” which may be more uniquely San Francisco problems. Other common problems were “Supply chain disruptions” and “Staffing challenges,” which businesses nationwide are facing, but are certainly a challenge in a high-tax environment like the Bay Area.
But the standout finding of this study may be that “One third of businesses were victims of crime between 2-10 times in the past year.” Shoplifting was a big issue, but not the biggest, with more retailers complaining of graffiti and vandalism, and public safety concerns. When crimes did occur, small businesses that were victims say they reported these crimes to police “70% of the time.”
The poll concluded that San Francisco small businesses "indicated that they currently need grants and loans, better street conditions, and more customers,” and to that end recommends more police and community ambassadors, sidewalk cleaning initiatives, and accounting and bookkeeping support.
Image: Joe Kukura, SFist