Store Behind ‘Toy Story’ To Close Due to High Crime

Jeffrey's Toys
Jeffrey's Toys | Image by Google Maps

A famous toy store in San Francisco announced that it would be permanently closing amid surging crime rates in its downtown neighborhood.

Jeffrey’s Toys — an iconic shop that inspired Pixar’s Toy Story franchise — is shutting its doors on February 10 after operating as a family-run business for 86 years. It has implemented store-wide sales on everything from merchandise to shelving to empty the location at 45 Kearny St. ahead of the closure.

The owners cited several factors behind the decision to close, such as inflation, low sales, and “the demise of retail across the world,” said the family’s attorney, Ken Sterling, according to The Washington Post. Yet the significant driver was the “perils and violence of the downtown environment.”

These same claims were voiced in December 2023 by Jeffrey’s Toys’ co-owner, Matthew Luhn, in an interview with SFGATE. He explained how foot traffic was suffering due to customers’ safety concerns, making it impossible to cover the store’s rent, which had risen to $20,000 a month. He even recounted how a seasoned worker quit after being threatened with a knife.

Downtown San Francisco has been hard hit by criminality, drug use, and vagrancy. As previously reported in The Dallas Express, more residents and businesses have been increasingly avoiding the decimated neighborhood, which economists say is spiraling into a “doom loop.”

By the end of 2023, the city reported an office space vacancy rate of 35.9% — representing more than 31.5 million square feet — putting pressure on the municipal budget. Regarding retailers, the downtown area alone saw a loss of 47% between 2019 and May 2023.

For instance, Whole Foods closed its 65,000-square-foot location after operating for just 13 months on Market Street over concerns for the safety of its employees, as previously covered in The Dallas Express. A spokesperson said the company wouldn’t consider reopening until crime is meaningfully addressed in the area.

Similarly, in a statement to the WP, Sterling called for city authorities to “prosecute crimes that have been plaguing retailers for several years, address the houseless challenge, and have more police patrols in the downtown area.”

Thanks in large part to a 2014 ballot referendum that downgraded theft of goods valued less than $950 to a misdemeanor and a series of similar policies in the subsequent years, San Francisco has been drowning in property theft. Recent police data shows that larceny is the most prevalent crime reported. The city also removed $120 million in budgeting from police and sheriff’s departments in 2020.

Similarly, Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot elected not to prosecute thefts less than $750 in value until this policy was later reversed amid heavy criticism.

In many ways, downtown San Francisco acts as a cautionary tale for the City of Dallas, with Downtown Dallas struggling with the same issues of crime, drug use, and vagrancy, as extensively covered in The Dallas Express.

Additionally, the Dallas Police Department has been critically understaffed for years, leading to skyrocketing rates of certain categories of crime, such as motor vehicle theft. Despite a City report recommending a force of 4,000 to ensure public safety, DPD has only around 3,000 officers within its ranks.

Its operations have also been underfunded, with City officials budgeting DPD just $654 million this fiscal year. This is significantly less than the spending levels seen on law enforcement in other high-crime municipalities, including New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Compared to neighboring Fort Worth’s city center, which is patrolled by a dedicated police unit and private security officers, Downtown Dallas regularly clocks higher criminal activity rates.

Sector 130 — which comprises Historic Downtown and Victory Park — had already logged a 35.7% year-over-year bump in motor vehicle theft and a 40% increase in assaults as of January 29, according to the City’s crime analytics dashboard.

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