Gump’s Survived the San Francisco Earthquake – But Not E-Commerce

Gump’s Holdings LLC,, the San Francisco retail landmark that survived the 1906 earthquake, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after succumbing to the rise of online shopping and shifting consumer habits.

After years of losses, the 157-year-old Bay Area department store had been trying to find a buyer, or additional financing since May, to no avail. The closely held company and its affiliates had assets of $61 million and liabilities of $64 million, according to filings late Friday in Nevada. Bloomberg reported late last month that the retailer was on the brink.

Gump’s is the latest U.S. department store operator to be hit hard by an aging customer base, expensive rents and growing competition from e-commerce. Two regional chains, Gordmans and Bon-Ton, recently filed for bankruptcy and closed their doors.

The company plans to ask the court to approve financing to support it during bankruptcy, according to the filing. Gump’s will keep trying to find a buyer, but it has also hired liquidators to sell off its merchandise to repay creditors.

Gump’s, which dates to 1861, evolved into a purveyor of luxury goods to cater to the winners of the California gold rush. That included scouring the globe for unique items, such as silks and jade from China and Japan.

Besides its store in San Francisco’s Union Square shopping district, the company has a direct-to-consumer division, including a website and catalog, that provides 75 percent of its revenue.

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