Boycotting Hobby Lobby

After a decline in the Arts & Crafts store industry over the last five years, 2020 brought about an unexpected upturn with a revitalizing surge of commerce. There was a greatly increased demand for all sorts of arts-and-crafts activities as so many people entered into self-isolation and virtual learning. Families were searching for projects to entertain children at home when schools closed, while adults sought activities to help them de-stress. Overall, arts-and-crafts retailers saw good performance throughout the year, in terms of sales and in the stock market, leaning on virtual sales and car-side pick-up to fill in the gaps when there were statewide mandatory closings.

Surprisingly after all of this, Hobby Lobby has decided to eliminate their 40% off coupon, and I will not stand for it.

The arts and crafts chain announced that, starting Feb. 28th of 2021, it will no longer offer the popular coupon at its 900-plus stores or online. They commented on Facebook, “By making this decision, we are intensifying our efforts to discount thousands of items every day. This will offer a better value instead of providing a discount on only one item with the coupon. It is always our intent to provide you with beyond compare service, great prices and the best selection. We appreciate your understanding during this period of transition and thank you for your continued business."

Crafters and consumers much like me were not buying this explanation. It was a flimsy excuse and there has never been a precedent where Hobby Lobby ever really tried to compete by lowering their prices in recent memory. Any trace of their announcement on their Facebook page has been deleted, and a savvy reader might spot that they have announced the 40% off coupons every week since in an effort to distract from the announcement. They have also begun to really shove their weekly coupon flyer down our throats, again to distract us and try to guide us to buy what they want us to buy. As a matter of fact, Hobby Lobby has been caught over-inflating prices, just to place them under fake clearance discounts, which were still above average price. In 2017, they were sued for fraudulent business practices when they were caught using false reference prices to fool consumers into thinking they’re getting a good deal. For example, a picture frame had been listed at 50% off of $17.99, marked down to $8.99; but they had never been priced at $17.99 in the store! The frames were sold at even lower prices by two of their competitors.

There have been calls by others to boycott Hobby Lobby over various other issues, such as a pro-Trump display back in September, or for the Supreme Court case in 2014 that allowed Hobby lobby to deny their employees access to birth control, saying it conflicted with religious beliefs. My research in the company to-date has not given me sufficient evidence to hold firm a position, especially at the 2014 case was ruled in Hobby Lobby’s favor as the Affordable Care Act could not make a mandate and break federal law protecting religious freedom in the case of family-owned companies. I think it is wrong of them, but not undue from a legal standpoint. Yet now, confirmed and compounded with the disappearance of their coupon practices, I have zero reason to support them any longer. It may sound selfish on the surface, and to a much lesser extent it is slightly selfish, but there is a greater issue that comes to light as a result of their change in policy.

Let me place the final “kicker” on this, which is what truly put me over the edge on boycotting them going forward. Unlike their competitors (and to a great degree, their superiors), Hobby Lobby does not offer neither a TEACHER’S discount, nor a MILITARY discount. Please let that sink in for a moment. The two most needy vocations for arts and crafts supplies are denied a meager discount, although virtually every other craft store offers it. How did I not know this?

Teachers often rely on their own paychecks to purchase the supplies they need for their classroom when the educational budget cannot provide for simple resources. They spend their own hard-earned money, which is pitifully below what they are due for the hard work they provide, just to give our children the opportunity have do art. As to our veterans and active duty military, these people need an avenue into crafting as bad as anyone else. Service men and woman often need to find physical tasks and creative projects in their home in order to express feelings, externalize difficult emotions, and possibly gain insight into PTSD symptoms. Michaels, A.C. Moore, Joann’s, and others offer a 10% discount all day, every day for both teachers and military. Hobby Lobby has zero excuse.

I was able to support the store from a neutral standpoint over the last decade, marred by constant issues and lawsuits, as I supported their right to operate as they saw fit under the protection and the letter of the law. I viewed certain instances of the backlash in any anti-Semitic or racist claims as having been conducted by individual employees and not by the company itself. In the end however, enough is enough. Even as a Christian and even as something of a fiscal conservative, Hobby Lobby and the Green family have proven their character to me, and I find it appalling.

It is clear that the company is not being run with the right intentions or the right heart, and that is why I am boycotting them from now on. I also urge you, gentle reader, to consider removing them from your crafting supply options, supporting other business, particularly local ones whenever possible.