Entrance to Gump's in San Francisco
|Fate||Chapter 11 bankruptcy |
|Founder||Solomon and Gustav Gump|
|Defunct||December 23, 2018|
Number of locations
S & G Gump was founded in 1861 as a mirror and frame shop by Solomon Gump and his brother, Gustav. It later sold mouldings, gilded cornices and European artwork to those recently made wealthy from the California Gold Rush.
The business flourished; the store sold products ranging from jewelry made from jade, precious gemstones, and cultured freshwater pearls to products from luxury designers such as Hermès and Buccellati. Customers included Franklin D. Roosevelt, who bought model ships and smoking jackets there, and Sarah Bernhardt, who bought a 17th-century bronze Chinese snake in preparation for playing Cleopatra. It was eventually passed on to Solomon's son Alfred Livingston Gump. The fire following the 1906 earthquake destroyed the store and all of the merchandise, but thanks to Dodie Valencia, A.L. received $17,000 for one of his paintings, which allowed funding for the rebuilding and restocking of the store. A.L. was fueled by his passion for Oriental art and began selling his exotic collectibles from the Far East. He sent his buyers to Japan and China, bringing back exotic rugs, porcelains, silks, bronzes and jades to California's new millionaires.
Richard Gump, one of A.L.’s three children, eventually became president of Gump's after his father's death in 1947. He continued the family legacy, running the company's overall operations until his retirement in 1975. Gump's was sold to publisher Crowell Collier, which after further mergers became Macmillan Publishers. By June 1989, Gump's had again been sold, this time to an investment group including Japan's Tobu Department Store and the Charterhouse Group.
In 1993 Gump's was in financial trouble when the catalog company later known as Hanover Direct bought it. They reduced the product lines, holding a liquidation sale on May 24, 1993, and revived the business,[ then in 2005 sold it to an investment group for $8.5 million.
Gump's filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on August 3, 2018. On August 10, final liquidation sales began on the retailer's official website and at its remaining storefront in San Francisco; the store closed on December 23.
A statue of Buddha was displayed inside the San Francisco store. The original statue was bronze, acquired in 1928; in 1949 Gump's donated it to the San Francisco Parks Department in memory of Alfred Livingston Gump, and it is in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. It was replaced at some point by an unusually large Qing Dynasty gilded wood Buddha. This was carved in the Northern Manchurian Province of Jehol, the summer capital of the Qing Emperors in the early 19th century, and was the largest of its kind outside a museum. It was bought by one of the 2005 purchasers, New York investment banker John Chachas, who loaned it to the store until the liquidation.
- Roseman, Janet Lynn; Birmingham and Saeks (1991). Gump’s Since 1861, A San Francisco Legend. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. p. 136.
- Gump, Richard (1962). Good Taste Costs No More. New York: Doubleday and Company.
- "Gump's Goes Modern". Time. May 30, 1949.
- Gump's website, Retrieved on December 24, 2108
- "Longtime Customers Mourn Loss of Historic S.F. Department Store Gump’s on Its Final Day", Retrieved on December 24, 2018.
- Bill Van Niekerken, "Ode to Gump’s: Memories flow from archive as SF’s oldest store says goodbye", San Francisco Chronicle, December 19, 2018.
- About Gump Station
- Isadore Barmash, "Business People; Gump's Specialty Stores Said to Fill Top Position",The New York Times, August 1, 1989.
- Jenny Strasburg, "Investment firms buying Gump's: Deal expected to be completed in March", San Francisco Chronicle, February 16, 2005.
- Sophia Kunthara, "With Gump's closed, beloved Buddha statue pulls vanishing act", San Francisco Chronicle, December 25, 2018.
- Roland Li, "Gump’s, a 157-year-old SF retailer, files for bankruptcy protection", San Francisco Chronicle, August 4, 2018.
- "Going-out-of-business sales begin at Gump's". Gordon Brothers. August 10, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
- Bill Van Niekerken, "A history lesson from the Buddha at SF's Japanese Tea Garden", San Francisco Chronicle, July 7, 2015, updated December 10, 2018.
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