Chain Store's Refusal to Stock Hanukkah Decorations Is Blatant Bigotry

Say What!? 58

scissors and christmas wrapping paperHaven't read something today that made your stomach turn? Well, have I got a story for you! Nationwide craft store chain Hobby Lobby, which seems like one of the most benign, grandma-beloved brands in the country, is under fire this week for reportedly refusing to stock Hanukkah and other Jewish-themed items in its stores across the country. The company has a large assortment of Christmas items, crosses, and Christian-themed cards, but apparently do not offer similar items for Jewish shoppers.

This blatant discrepancy (or should I say discrimination?) came to light when political blogger Ken Berwitz noticed that the Marlboro, NJ Hobby Lobby was offering Christmas decorations but lacked any Hanukkah-related merchandise. Hmm. Being that Hanukkah arrives much earlier than Christmas this year -- on Thanksgiving, in fact! -- you'd think they'd have the Jewish holiday items in stock even earlier, right? Heh ...

Well, when Berwitz called that NJ Hobby Lobby and asked when they might be selling Hanukkah items, an employee told the blogger that they would NOT be getting them in ... ever. Because “Mr. [David] Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values.” Uh ... huh.

In an earlier incident at the same store, a shopper who asked why the store doesn’t carry Bar Mitzvah cards was allegedly told by a clerk, “We don’t cater to you people.” Wow ... Now that sounds to me like a blatant display of anti-Semitism.

Having grown up as one of the only Jewish kids in a predominantly Irish-Catholic community, I got used to going into grocery/craft/drug stores and finding a very small to no selection of Jewish holiday items. But I was usually under the impression that things like Shabbat or menorah candles or potato latke mix weren't being carried because there was no demand around there. And I feel like there's an important distinction between items not being in stock because there's no demand vs. there's a demand but a store refuses to stock the item(s) since they're discriminating against a certain group of people.

As for what Hobby Lobby -- whose CEO, David Green, is an evangelical pastor who has woven his devout Christianity into the mission statement and company policies of his arts and crafts stores -- had to say for themselves in the wake of these unnerving incidents:

Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. is currently working with our buyers over our merchandise selection. Due to multiple customer requests, we are currently evaluating our Holiday items and what we will carry in the future.

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.

Marlboro is a great city and has wonderful people and we are blessed to be apart [sic] the community.

Sounds like proper damage control. Who knows, though, if this is an isolated issue -- at one store, not all of 'em? If the chain wants to re-brand themselves as a Christian store, I guess that's one thing. But if they're going to attempt to appeal to a general audience, their merchandise needs to reflect that. And either way, bigoted behavior and discrimination against Jewish -- or Muslim, Hindu, Buddhists, Atheist, etc.! -- customers is abhorrent and intolerable.

What do you think about this controversy?


Image via Marco Arment/Flickr

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bills... billsfan1104

Get over it. In these times of being able to record, why didn't the blogger record the conversation??

If there isn't a need for it, why should they stock up for it??

That's like me going into a Jewish store and demanding that they serve ham.

nonmember avatar Heather

they close on Sunday for religious reasons, I don't think this uproar is going to change anything they do. They obviously don't care about the money or they would be open 7 days a week.

amazz... amazzonia

I hate hobby lobby  they think they are so Christians but thEy are the least Christian thing in this world! They are racist, hateful and on top o  that they buy all their carp in China where Christian are prosecuted, women are made have abortions at 8months (not to mention. killing newborns) but all that is ok, to make money but God forbid they sell a menorah!!! Hypocrite, unchristian and jus  ugly!!! Screw them! From now on even if it  further from my house  I'll go t  Michael's if I need that crap!

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

They've never hidden the fact that they are a Christian business. If they have enough customers who don't mind that they'll stay in business. I won't shop there because I don't like what they do with their money and I think it's ridiculous to pretend a walmart-inspired business has anything to do with Christianity.

Jespren Jespren

This is the same site that last year declared there was no bigotry in stores refusing to carry 'Christmas' items and selling 'holiday' items instead or who threatened to fire employees who said 'Merry Christmas'. I don't understand why a Christian run business wouldn't stock Jewish holiday stuff, but if that's 'bigotry' than so are stores refusing to call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree because seeing a 'Christmas' item is offensive to an athiest. if there is want for the item I think it's weird for them not to carry it, but it's a private store, they get to pick what they carry.

nekoy... nekoyukidoll

Not surprising to me one bit.  I live in OK where they're based out of, and it's well known that the CEO and his family are big time religious; heck they own another chain Called Mardels that just sells Christian and church things.  It's sad because the have a good selection of craft items but I hate to shop there due to the recent things such as this and the deal they have of not wanting to add birth control and emergency contraceptives on their health plans for employees.  Really sad.

nonmember avatar Lbdmom

I can't remember seeing any Hanukkah decorations at Joann's or Michaels either. But I could be totally wrong.

the4m... the4mutts

Who cares? Since when are stores not allowed to stock whatever the hell they want? Its THEIR brand. If you dont like it, dont friggin shop there!

I wont shop there, because I refuse to support any company that is blatantly religious, as I am opposed to organized religion. But I dont go into those stores and complain that their merchandise or lack there of, is offensive.

Just avoid it. Speak with your money.

nonmember avatar April

Ok, let me understand the outrage. It's all well and good for them NOT to participate in Birth control mandates because they are Christian based, owned by Christians and want to follow Christian ideals. and that's ok. But when they don't carry another religions products, then it's NOT ok to be christian based, with christian owners and christian ideals. Yup. Don't get it. Look, no store carries EVERY religions preferred items. I have to go to a specialty store to find mine. sure as hell Walmart, or Hobby Lobby are NOT going to stock it. and that's fine. I will go where they DO carry it. Seems like a big deal over nothing.

nonmember avatar randi

I'm not Jewish, and I don't know any Jewish people, but I won't shop there anymore. This world has changed, and if you refuse to change with it, you are going out of business. Good riddance.

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