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Longtime Customers Mourn Loss of Historic S.F. Department Store Gump's on Its Final Day

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- For 157 years, Gump's department store has been an institution and, for generations of San Franciscans, it was part of a beloved holiday tradition.

On Sunday, the institution and the tradition came to an end.

Gump's opened its doors an hour early as a group of loyal customers gathered outside the store on Post Street.

One longtime customer, Sylvia Brosamer, said she had to come when she heard Gump's was going out of business.

"Everything in there was beautiful," Brosamer told KPIX. "We always came at Christmas."

The store, she said, is like a thread woven into the fabric of her fondest memories of Christmas, her childhood and even her wedding.

"I've been married for 54 years and my bridesmaids gave me this beautiful, tall pitcher and these tall lemonade glasses from Gumps," Brosamer recalled.

Gump's in San Francisco
Historical photo of Gump's department store in San Francisco

Gump's was San Francisco's oldest department store, founded in 1861 by brothers Gustave and Alfred Gump.

Customer Fran Hao said it's sad it won't be there to share with future generations of her family.

"You can tell them about these things but they're not here anymore," Hao said. "We used to pick one day and daddy and mom would bring us here and we'd go to all the stores."

Gumps was known for high-end luxury items -- crystal vases, fancy dinnerware but, recently, it had fallen on hard times, filing for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Its final days brought out a mix of loyal customers and bargain hunters along with the merely curious.

"I've been to Gump's yesterday," Catherine Chin said. "I found some things that I liked and I'm back to see if I can get more before it closes. It's sad that it's going away."

Many of the customers on Sunday told KPIX that -- regardless of what's gained with the convenience of online shopping -- something intangible is lost when a beloved brick-and-mortar store goes out of business.

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