Hobby Lobby owner David Green notoriously sued the government (which is still being challenged
) because he doesn't want to cover birth control for his employees—who, like his shoppers, happen to be mostly women.
Now comes word there is yet another reason to avoid getting your crafty supplies and holiday decorations from Hobby Lobby. They recently opened a new store in New Jersey and blogger Ken Berwitz discovered last week that Hobby Lobby doesn't sell any Hanukkah merchandise. Not a single menorah. Not a single dreidel.
In the past few days two different friends told my wife they had gone into the new hobby lobby store in Marlboro, New Jersey and noticed that, although there already was a lot of Christmas merchandise available, there was none for the Jewish holiday of Chanukah (some people drop the "C" and spell it Hannukah. Same holiday).
One of our friends entered the store, asked where the Chanukah goods were, was told there wouldn't be any, and asked why. According to her, the answer was:
"We don't cater to you people"
Understandably irate, she called the home office, and was told, indifferently, that hobby lobby doesn't have Chanukah on its list of holidays.
Since I did not hear this ugly exchange with my own ears, I was not personally certain it was the case. And that's not good enough for this blog. So I just called the Marlboro hobby lobby and asked whether it would be stocking any Chanukah merchandise. I was told it would not. When I asked why, the answer - verbatim - was:
"Because Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he's a Christian, and those are his values"
FYI, I would guess that, in a five mile radius around the Marlboro store, a solid one-third of all residents are Jewish. But, then again, what is the difference? The reason hobby lobby won't sell Chanukah goods is unrelated to how many Jews are in the area,
Over the weekend, backlash started to build and as of this morning, the company says:
In a brief email to Patch, Hobby Lobby representative Vincent Parker said, "We currently do not carry any Hanukah items in our store. Our customers have brought this to our attention and we are currently evaluating our Holiday items and what we will carry in the future."
Parker did not comment on the alleged remarks by a Hobby Lobby employee, and did not confirm the conversation ever happened.
For what it's worth, I went to their Facebook page
and asked whether they would confirm whether they do or do not sell any Hanukkah merchandise, and while my comment/question is still visible on the page, the ensuing conversation has been deleted. They seem to be responding to questions about a variety of friendly topics such as new store openings, discounts, etc., but questions from consumers about their policy on Hanukkah merchandise remain unanswered. UPDATE:
All comments and questions regarding Hannukah merchandise are now being deleted from their Facebook page.
EDIT: as Colorado Luis points out, they won at the tenth circuit and the Obama administration is now challenging.