Tech Store b8ta Closes Second Shop in Hayes Valley After Manager is Robbed at Gunpoint

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CEO of b8ta, Vibhu Norby, announced in a Wednesday post on Twitter that they are indefinitely closing the Hayes Valley store a week after opting to shut down their Union Square store, citing a criminal incident where an unknown individual pointed a gun at a manager during a robbery.

“Our story is not exceptional. I think the city will say it’s a b8ta-specific problem because we have a visible storefront and high-value merchandise, but everybody’s witnessing this,” Norby said.

Surging Crime

The CEO said that since he has started sharing his stores’ experiences, several other Hayes Valley merchants have followed suit of sharing their own encounters with criminal activities. Norby said that unless the block is crime-free for at least a month.

Last week, the b8ta store on Union Square closed down after the block experienced three muggings this year. “It doesn’t matter how expensive it is. We can’t send our employees into a store where there’s even a 2% chance they get mugged,” Norby said.

In January, Norby began sharing his thoughts and worries for his employees’ safety amid the surging criminal activity in the area. The CEO started making threads that detailed each incident in the street, some including video footage of the crimes. On the same thread, Norby revealed that a store manager in the Hayes Valley store was robbed at gunpoint.

It’s with a heavy heart that we have made the decision to close our Hayes Valley SF store as well, indefinitely and immediately. Our store manager had a gun pulled on him this afternoon, and we were robbed. The team is shaken up but doing OK. (And yes, we have private security.)” Norby said, the San Francisco Gate reported.

Norby chose to hire private security to keep the safety of his employees despite costing 30% more than the store’s monthly rent. “I thought [hiring private security] would work. In retrospect, it obviously doesn’t because you’re not going to ask someone to escalate the situation,” he said.

Last month, Norby said the San Francisco store is seeing crime at an unprecedented rate compared to other shops worldwide. “This actually doesn’t happen anywhere else in the country. We have 17 other stores, including three internationally. This just doesn’t happen anywhere else. It’s only here,” he said.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.