For many young artists, the moment they notice that they are hanging out at the big craft chain stores more often than the regular art supply stores is when they realize that they may have to start calling themselves “conceptual artists,” “multimedia sculptors,” or the more recently popular “artists who like to play with toys and/or kitsch.” In the past few days, though, a bunch of folks have been calling for a boycott of Hobby Lobby, one of the biggest chains.
It all started when Ken Berwitz, author of a blog called “Hopelessly Partisan,” decided to investigate the stories that several friends had been telling his wife about the new Hobby Lobby in Marlboro, New Jersey, a neighborhood with a high number of Jewish residents. According to the friend, she asked an employee about Hannukah cards and was met with the response, “We don’t cater to you people.” The upset friend then called the home office and was simply told that Hannukah was not on the list of Hobby Lobby’s holidays.
Hobby Lobby is known for stocking everything imaginable for every imaginable holiday, so Berwitz decided to call the store himself. When he asked if the store would be carrying Hannukah items in the future, he was told they would not, because “Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values.” He also called the corporate headquarters and it confirmed the absence of Hannukah merchandise, although without giving any specific reason.
Berwitz posted the story on his blog last Friday and it has been getting passed around social media to groups calling for boycotts. The Huffington Post notes that conservative billionaire Steve Green, who owns more than 550 Hobby Lobby stores nationwide, is also known for his lawsuit against President Obama’s health care law, which he says tramples on his religious liberty by forcing him to insure employees for medical services he objects to on religious grounds.
Hobby Lobby has since issued the following statement: “Alleged comments made by employees are currently being investigated and will be addressed accordingly. These comments are in no way indicative of Hobby Lobby culture, the owners and the operators.”