Hobby Lobby to Jewish Crafters: “We don’t cater to you people.” [updated]

No Hannukah Crafts at Hobby Lobby

UPDATE (October 2, 2013): Hobby Lobby has responded to the incident with an apology. The following is the full apology, copied from their Facebook page. Below that is the full text of my original article.

Hobby Lobby apologizes for any possible employee comments that may have offended anyone, especially our Jewish customers and friends. Comments like these do not reflect the feelings of the Green family or Hobby Lobby. We are investigating this matter and do not tolerate discrimination at our company or our stores.

Hobby Lobby is currently working with our buyers over our merchandise selection. Our customers have brought this to our attention, and we are currently evaluating our holiday items and what we will carry in the future.

Full original article:

_ _ _ _ _

Looking to get crafty for Hanukkah this year? Don’t look to Hobby Lobby.

After noticing that the Hobby Lobby in her area didn’t stock any Hanukkah-related craft supplies, one crafter asked a sales associate, and was told:

We don’t cater to you people.

Yep. “You people.” Seriously? I haven’t encountered anti-semitism in a very long time, and reading this quote really took me aback. Surely, this has to be the attitude of a single store or store clerk. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Blogger Ken Berwitz, a friend of the crafter who inquired about Hanukkah-related supplies, contacted the main office. According to a piece he published at Hopelessly Partisan, they said that they did not stock supplies for Hanukkah:

Because Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values.

There’s been a lot of drama over these comments, but Hobby Lobby appears to be keeping mum about it. As of this writing, they have been deleting any questions or discussion about Hanukkah supplies on their Facebook page, and the only statement they’ve released is that they are “evaluating” their “Holiday items,” which is hardly an apology or a promise to be more inclusive.

This isn’t the first time that Hobby Lobby has gotten itself into the thick of controversy. In 2012, the company sued the federal government for the right to deny its female employees access to emergency contraception as part of its company health care plan. That legal battle is still ongoing.

Hobby Lobby: Opting Out

Obviously, Mr. Green is free to run his company any way he likes, but if he chooses to discriminate against a group of people in this way, we as ethical crafters can also choose to take our money elsewhere.

Why should we as crafters care what the owner of Hobby Lobby is doing? Just like with any other industry, crafters are consumers. We consume craft supplies, and every time we hand over cash or swipe our credit cards, we are casting a vote. Obviously, where you shop is up to you, but I am definitely going to be staying away.

The great news? Many green crafters don’t have to buy nearly as many craft supplies. The recycle bin is our craft store! Need some other alternatives to store-bought craft supplies? Check out this list of unusual sources for green craft supplies.

Image Credit: Menorah photo via Shutterstock

60 thoughts on “Hobby Lobby to Jewish Crafters: “We don’t cater to you people.” [updated]”

  1. Jessica MIchael

    How does being a “christian” keep you from supplying a menorah? I’m a Christian with jewish friends and I actually celebrate some of those holidays with them. Do they not remember Jesus was Jewish?

      1. Actually Becky, you will not find the concept of tolerance in the Bible, either in the OT or the NT. What you will find is the concept of Love and the story of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ from Genesis to Revelation. Obviously this policy is misguided as even Jesus Himself observed Jewish traditions, even though, as The Lamb of God, He was the sacrifice for all the sins of mankind and thus ended the need for any further rituals to forgive sin. Anyway this man does not represent all Christians. True followers of Christ must love the Jewish people. They gave us our Redeemer and our Holy Bible after all. How could we do otherwise?

  2. They could have come up with any BS excuse, “we don’t have a good supplier”, “there’s not enough demand”, “we don’t stock those items at this time”, etc. Instead they went with, “the owner is a bigot”.

  3. I am crafter/dressmaker and purchase tons of sewing supplies.
    The Marlboro store is minutes from my home. I knew before they opened I would not be stepping foot I’m the store!
    Some time ago I was looking for a particular fabric print and my google search took me to Hobby Lobby.
    Hours later I googled Hobby Lobby toilet purchase and some of the articles that ce up when I searched the store were about the companies views. Further research brought me to a few articles about the owners sons company which makes movies with anti Israel messages.
    I didnt need to research any further in order to decide this store is not for me.
    I am a Jew and a resident of Marlboro and frankly I couldn’t care less about Hobby Lobby stocking Hanukkah items. These are available else wear from Wegans to Target etc… What I do care about is that a company opened in my backyard that doesn’t feel it should aknowledge the religion of a large majority of their residents! That they have employees who sprew anti Semitic remarks scares me…
    I do hope that this viral message that has been spread Isn’t soon forgotten and that we stand united and until Hobby Lobby can prove they are not anti Semitic we take our $$$ somewhere else!

  4. Here’s the letter I wrote to customer service: (I hope it goes viral. :))

    Dear Customer Service,

    It’s rare to read about blatant anti-Semitism in the US these days, but your right-wing owner and founder has no problem expressing his dislike for Jews like me. When asked why a particular store did not carry Hanukkah items, a crafter was told that, “we don’t cater to you people.” Somehow singling out Jews and creating a policy that is not welcoming towards them as seen as a ‘Christian value.’

    I have news for you. This kind of policy is not a religious value, it’s a form of hate. It’s called anti-Semitism.

    I hope you pass this message onto the owner of Hobby Lobby. And I hope no truly religious people of any stripe: Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists choose to shop in his stores again. Because he is one hateful man.

    Sarah Lovinger, MD
    Evanston, IL

  5. clearly the sales associate is an idiot of how she responded……although I think its a bit much to say people are being discriminated against because they don’t carry a certain item….just someone being manipulative with how they are choosing to twist someone’s words to benefit themselves and their cause.

  6. I am crafter/dressmaker and purchase tons of sewing supplies.
    The Marlboro store is minutes from my home. I knew before they opened I would not be stepping foot I’m the store!
    Some time ago I was looking for a particular fabric print and my google search took me to Hobby Lobby.
    Hours later I googled Hobby Lobby to purchase and some of the articles that ce up when I searched the store were about the companies views. Further research brought me to a few articles about the owners sons company which makes movies with anti Israel messages.
    I didnt need to research any further in order to decide this store is not for me.
    I am a Jew and a resident of Marlboro and frankly I couldn’t care less about Hobby Lobby stocking Hanukkah items. These are available else wear from Wegans to Target etc… What I do care about is that a company opened in my backyard that doesn’t feel it should aknowledge the religion of a large majority of their residents! That they have employees who sprew anti Semitic remarks scares me…
    I do hope that this viral message that has been spread Isn’t soon forgotten and that we stand united and until Hobby Lobby can prove they are not anti Semitic we take our $$$ somewhere else!

  7. Wow, that’s just…I don’t have the words. Kinda makes me want to put out a call to arms- maybe crafters of all religious and philosophic bent should go in, ask for items for ALL of the holidays. I mean, really, just pelt ’em with requests for every possible holiday! (I can only imagine what the reaction would be, should someone request flowers for Diwali, or things for any other Eastern holiday…) I’d considered checking them out- we just got one here- but that ain’t gonna happen, now.

      1. I’ve never done anything like that before, but I’m a blogger, too- what’s the best way to get something like this going? Feel free to email me- I’d be happy to try to do something about it. I’ve been PO’d about HL since the birth control wars thing….

    1. We are supposed to be getting a craft shop in our county…Could be interesting as our small county in central Florida has 6 synagogues… plus a Hindu temple…and a bunch of hard-headed Unitarian Universalists!
      BTW, if you want containers to store supplies in, find friends who use the Beneful, Nutrish, and a couple of other wet dog foods that are coming in a plastic container (recyclable), with snap-in lids. They are colorful and clean up well. I dogsit, and one of the pups’ food comes in these. They are suddenly in demand around here..had to go dig them out of my recycle bin..

  8. It’s time for pick on a company because they offended me. Oh and they’re run by a Christian owner so that’s why they don’t cater to everyone. You’re so right. I have never had a bad experience at any store. Why do you have to bring religion into it? If a store doesn’t have what you’re looking for…don’t shop there! Simple.

  9. Pysanky Pittsburgh

    Just so the blog owner knows – there is a follow up to this. Hobby Lobby tried to contact the lady that spread this allegation and she refuses to corroborate it. Remember, so far, this is all he said she said stuff…. Who exactly owns/writes Hopelessly Partisan, and who made this claim against the store?

    “Basically they say the victim who reported it as not responding to their attempts to corroborate the incident.”

  10. Use your ncrafting skills for peacable protest. Jewish and Jewish friendly shopper, go HL store near you and cluster bottles, boxes and other invetory in groups of 9, add candles and leave your menorahs on display there.

    Pair triangular frames, templates and the like in opposing directions and display mogen david with pride.

    I wonder if Mr. Green has fully considered what his family name migh have been in the old country.


  11. That’s what I found on their website: At Hobby Lobby, we value our customers and employees and are committed to: Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.

    Refusing some customers must be then “consistent with biblical principles”. I think I’ll shop somewhere where dear Lord is not so important…

  12. I find it very telling that this article equates not offering a product with religious discrimination while seemingly endorsing the actual religious discrimination of the HHS Mandate against Hobby Lobby’s birth control views all while claiming to be green (we all know birth control is anything but green). I also find it shocking that someone actually believes that a retail hobby store is supposed to stock everything related to all religions despite the obviously unsustainable reality of that. It’s completely unreasonable.

    1. I take issue with a lot of this comment, but the main point that gets me is your assertion that birth control is not eco-friendly. Our ever-growing population is a huge environmental issue, and letting people choose to have smaller families when they want them strikes me as a win-win for those people and for the planet.

      1. Regardless of population vs environment, birth control still isn’t green. We’re talking Big Pharma here. Chemical processes and waste, rubber production and waste, the question of those chemicals then getting into our water supply, etc. That was my point. There is a trend amongst green people with no religious affiliation turning to Natural Family Planning because of this.

    2. I think you misunderstood the discussion. At no point did the author say it was discriminatory to not carry items related to Judaism. The accusation of discrimination and anti-semitic behavior is due to belittling the Jewish population by referring to them as “you people” and the fact that the company will not allow posts about the lack of Jewish merchandise to be propagated on their site. That is a clear exhibition of intolerance (something I think you must be hyper aware of given that you accused the blogger’s of being intolerant and censoring views when she had not approved this comment within an hour and forty minutes, despite you having posted it at 5:20am.). A store doesn’t have to stock EVERYTHING for all holidays, but doesn’t it seem a bit suspect when a store doesn’t stock ANYTHING for a holiday that is prevalently celebrated? I would think it’d just be good business to stock Hanukkah craft supplies if your area has a large Jewish population or to begin stocking them when the presence of the population is brought to the store’s attention.

      Clearly you seem to have your opinions on what is and is not discrimination (apparently religious beliefs of men trump the rights of women). Perhaps you should return to your church and pray that the good Lord guides you to become a more compassionate and welcoming individual so that you can embody the true value of Christianity instead of being such a shining example of Christian-in-name-only. =)

      1. Bree, the comments of that one employee don’t represent the entire company so I found that point rather insignificant. Hobby Lobby had already issued a statement on their facebook page when I read this blog and people were commenting on it. You are right that it would be a good business decision to supply these items if there was a market for it, but that’s a business owner’s decision. As for the representative posting that the owner is “a Christian and those are his views” this simply means that he isn’t Jewish and he probably doesn’t want to be seen as contributing to a non-Christian religion financially; maybe he feels that would turn people away from Jesus or something – but it doesn’t really matter and it isn’t really discriminating – it’s just not offering a product.
        I make no mention of my religion or of men’s vs women’s rights. My point is that one example is a store not offering a religious item (and one employee saying something ignorant) while the other is the government forcibly mandating someone to violate their religious beliefs. There is a clear difference there.

  13. They do however cater to Wiccans, as Halloween is merely the common name for a very important Wiccan holiday. Wonder how the owner squares that with his “Christianity”??

      1. I already no longer shop there because of their support of anti-gay organisations. That said, the last time I visited, there were absolutely no Halloween items except for candy packages with biblical passages on them.

  14. I have spent countless money in your store.I have respected your rights to close on Sunday due to your Christian beliefs.I Jewish and my husband is not as is many other of my family members we are mixed religions.I make headbands and supply them to high end boutiques in my area.I often count on Hobby Lobby for supplies ,as well as Home decor items for my own home.I would guess over the years I have spent a good 7000.00 in your store as well as my mother,sister,aunt,and ,nieces.You will never see any of us in any of your stores again.Sincerly Sheryl Sample

  15. I’m confused as to why my last post hasn’t been approved yet even though you’ve responded to other posts since mine was submitted. Are you censoring differing views? That doesn’t sound very tolerant so that must not be the reason.

    1. Your comments got put into our “pending review” queue. All it means is that our spam filter thinks you might be fishy; spam filters have no political viewpoint (that I know of…).

  16. Why are people surprised by this? They aren’t open on Sunday. It’s pretty well known that the owners are Christian, and if they’re Christian enough to keep their stores closed on a day of the weekend (probably losing a lot of business as most people have those days off and go shopping then), then I’m pretty sure they’re Christian enough to not stock items related to other religions.

    I don’t know why people get in an uproar about these types of things. What the employee said was regrettable. I doubt they thought that comment through, and I would be offended had someone said “you people” to me, but the employee is not the owner of the company. The beautiful thing about living in the United States is our freedom of speech, Hobby Lobby (and Chic-Fil-A and every other company that’s come under scrutiny for standing up for what they believe in) has the right to sell or believe whatever they want.

    Can they openly bar the doors to homosexual/jewish/whatever else they don’t agree with customers? No. But they can stock and believe whatever they want. And the second they can’t, is the second I start worrying about this country.

    You’re right, you can cast your vote and not go to these establishments, and that is a great way to be true to your own beliefs. But I, for one, am glad that a Christian company doesn’t have to stock Jewish items if they don’t want to and that a Jewish company doesn’t have to stock Christian items if they don’t want to. That’s the beauty of our freedom.

    1. I totally agree with you: a Christian company can do whatever it wants. It’s not that they don’t stock Dreidel cookie cutters. It’s the attitude that the employee displayed and that the company displayed when someone questioned them about it. They’ve since apologized, and I appreciate that a lot. For me, that makes a big difference. Does that make sense?

  17. I will never go into another Hobby Lobby. Ever. Guess what? I am “Christian” and I am embarrassed by Mr. Green’s behavior. Sorry, I don’t cater to those kind of businessmen.

  18. This is terrible… I don’t know if i will ever shop there again. When did we as Christians forget our Jewish heritage? Jesus was Jewish, and so were all of the 12 Apostles. I will happily play the “This is Racist” card, They could have said “sir/madame we do not have a large Jewish population here, and it costs us money to stock items that rarely sale” then there would have been no problem but by saying “We Don’t Cater to YOU PEOPLE” you have made it all about hate. When did we lose common decency towards or fellow man? Jesus told us to “Love your neighbor as we love ourselves” the second most important commandment according to him. Have we as Christians forgotten this? All people Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc ALL PEOPLE deserve the same amount of respect, even if we don’t believe the same way they do! Sorry for the rant but I think that we have gotten so rapped up in the ritual that we forget that above everything Jesus told us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER! That’s it my Two Cents!

  19. This is so typical of the left, attack anyone who does not follow. First of all, I had a card and gift store for 10 years. I can assure you that finding Hannukah items is not just rare but difficult. To prove this point I will offer 6 big wholesale craft suppliers names and websites. When you link into their site and search for hannukah you will come up with 0. The exception is http://www.ssww.com, they had 1 item.
    www. orientaltrading.com
    Additionally, have you tried JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts, (www.joann.com), they also have no Hannukah crafts. Why are they not being attacked? The reason is simple, Mr. Green is standing up for his christian beliefs and the beliefs of his company by fighting this government healthcare. The secular public does not like it. It is not that he is anti-semitic.
    I also want to state that any retail business purchases items that will result in good sales and turnover. If a holiday has limited sales and the retailer is stuck with tons of product later, they will likely not purchase the items or reduce stock. That’s business. I couldn’t find any confirmation or communion cards in any of my local Jewel stores. Does that mean they hate Catholics?

    1. “Hannukah” items don’t show up because you didn’t use one of the more common spellings, which are Hanukkah and Chanukah.

      SSWW = 5 Hanukkah item, 1 Chanukah item, 7 Judaic items [with a “Judaic Crafts” section]
      Oriental Trading = 84 Hanukkah/Chanukah items
      Koyal = 1 Hanukkah item
      Sunshine = 1 Hanukkah item
      Darice = 1 Hanukkah item
      JoAnn = 20 Hanukkah items, 8 Hanukkah projects

      Of those companies, I’ve only heard of JoAnn, Oriental Trading, and Darice, so I hardly think those others would be widely shopped by a large variety of consumers. Plus, it wasn’t typical to buy decorations/crafts for Jewish holidays in the past, that’s a more recent development as less people make their own. Furthermore, Judaic websites now sell those type of things, so there’s usually no need to search dedicated crafts sites/stores.

      My personal boycott of Hobby Lobby has absolutely nothing to do with healthcare, because I actually agree with them on the account that emergency contraception shouldn’t have to be covered. As I stated above, my problem is with their support of exclusionary groups, no matter whom they’re excluding.

    2. None of this is true. Oriental Trading has all manner of Hannukah things, pages and pages of of it, from dreidels to chocolates to party supplies. Joann Fabrics has several Hannukah-themed fabrics and also carries menorah candles. SSWW has craft kits for making your own Hannukah gelt bag and painting your own dreidels.

      Factory Direct doesn’t have much, but they do carry dreidel cookie cutters and some Star of David crafting items. Koyal Wholesale carries Star of David cupcake wrappers and favors. Sunshine Crafts has foam kits for making menorahs and dreidels, and Darice carries the same foam kits.

      Just want to make sure no one reads the above comment and takes it as fact. Search for yourself.

  20. Let’s keep in mind that ONE person said this to a customer. I know for a fact that not every single person working for a company can feel the same on any one policy or statement. Jesus was a Jew, clearly the Green family knows and accepts such fact. It is a shame that an ENTIRE company is getting a bad reputation for ONE person’s comments, who didn’t even have the authority to speak for the company. Not to mention that it is THEIR store, not yours! If you want specific items, go to a store that carries them. Many people go to Hobby Lobby because they know they can find craft and holiday items, but also because they can find Christian items.

    All I have to say is to each their own.

    1. Totally – it was one employee that made the initial comment, and I mention that in the article. But when Berwitz followed up, there was no apology for that behavior. Instead, they doubled down, saying that they are a Christian store.

      I agree: to each their own. Hobby Lobby can be anti-Semitic, and folks who aren’t into that attitude can shop somewhere else.

  21. Really, the problem isn’t that they won’t stock non-Christian holiday supplies. If they don’t feel they have the market, that’s fine. What isn’t OK, is that they identify the reason for refusing to stock such items is that doing so would be contrary to their values, and that the clerk doesn’t seem to be reprimanded for saying “you people.”

    1. Thank you for linking to that, Randy! I agree: they can carry whatever they want, and that alone doesn’t make them anti-Semitic. What really bothers me is that it doesn’t sound like the company has apologized for this employee’s behavior.

      I am just catching up on emails and comments this morning (Julie is a rockstar for going in and sifting through all of these comments before I had even poured me coffee!). So far not seeing a statement from Hobby Lobby apologizing for this employee’s comments anywhere. If I do, though, I will definitely share it! I would love to learn that this Christian store has real Christian values, including compassion!

  22. This company is highly hypocritical and has been for a long time. Years ago I was managing a large volunteer knitting program and asked them to donate yarn. They said no and then threw a huge carload of discontinued skeins into the trash.

    One of their employees (who is no longer there) got word to us that the yarn was in the dumpster and we rescued it and our volunteers knit and crocheted it into warm caps for homeless people, psychiatric patients and children from low-income homes.

    These people who think they are so holy for closing on Sundays and putting full page ads about Jesus in the newspapers at Easter and Christmas. And they want to dictate what kinds of birth control their female employees can access. It’s embarrassing to those who share their faith tradition but not their narrow exclusive views

    Needless to say, I do not shop there.

  23. Your entire article is a ‘BOGUS crock of crap to make HObby Lobby look bad
    and YO U KNOW IT

    They are NOT anti Semitic AT ALL and you should be ashamed of yourself
    for your libelous PHONY article which simply spewed hate

    I will make sure that my 500K readers on my sites (many of whom craft) are
    made aware of your gossipy hateful ways.

    I need to leave your site and go wash now, as your lies, filth and hate have contaminated me. I have copied this and am posting it everywhere along with the facts so that people can see your site is nothing but a gossipy rag

    Deleting this will not change anything, as the libel has been done and the copies have been made.

    1. I have no plans to delete this article, James, and I am very concerned with honesty. In fact, I even updated this article on October 2nd (two days before you left this comment) to include Hobby Lobby’s public apology. Libel is a serious accusation, and I have no interest in making Hobby Lobby look bad. I read this story on Daily Kos and felt that it was something that the readers at Crafting a Green World would be interested in knowing about. It’s disappointing that you’re resorting to name-calling and threats, and I’m sorry that my article has offended you so much that you felt the need to do so.

  24. I guess what really annoys me is the way that everyone just goes nuts when they hear something like this. Is the employee the owner of Hobby Lobby? No. Why is it assumed since ONE employee supposedly said ‘you people’, and all that, that Hobby Lobby hates Jews? That really makes no sense. But I suppose if people are already annoyed about the closed on Sunday thing, the birth control thing and on and on, then instantly becoming offended without really investigating makes sense.

    1. I hear ya, Wendy. What bothered me wasn’t the comments from that one employee. That was offensive, but like you say: one store associate doesn’t represent the whole company. The thing that got me was the statement the company gave when questioned about that employee’s comments. Now that they’ve apologized, I’m not sure how I feel about the whole thing.

  25. I think I’ve heard of Hobby Lobby. Maybe. Everyone knows michaels. 1,000 stores. 49 states. Only TWO hanukkah items on their website. No ramadan.


  26. When there is an obvious apology (and since this was supposedly said by an employee)then why bring it up in the first place? Mr. green is not the one who said this remark…it’s very difficult for any of us to be responsible for what comes out of someone else’s mouth…I believe he handled it in a responsible manner when it was brought to his attention.

    1. Hi Judy – the apology didn’t come for several days after the story broke, which is why it’s marked as an update. As I also mention in the article:

      “Surely, this has to be the attitude of a single store or store clerk. Unfortunately, that is not the case.”

      I then went on to share the first response that the company gave when questioned about that single employee’s remarks. You can see that above as a large-font block quote. I hope that clarifies things!

  27. Hobby Lobby’s comments that it does not tolerate discrimination in its stores is wrong. It is anti anything the owner decides is non-Christian. I’m surprised I found an “Om” charm. I have stopped shopping there primarily because HL doesn’t satisfy my craft needs. JoAnn has a far superior selection of fabric, and A.C. Moore is much closer to home and has better prices. I’m also upcycling more and making on-line purchases.
    We’re free to shop wherever we want, and a boycott will only make Green declare he’s being persecuted for his faith (which is what he’s doing to others). Let him have his “Christian” values (which don’t always seem to reflect Christ’s teachings).
    Have you posted this info on Care2.com? Many of the activists who visit the site are crafters, who would be interested.
    Care2.com also has some good green and upcycled craft ideas.

  28. I long ago boycotted them. They built a huge store here and I have MS and need a mobility cart to shop. None there. I asked the manager why before I left, unable to shop because the items I buy are in the back of the huge store. When I told him handicapped people couldn’t shop and asked why no cart, he said “oh well, we just don’t”. Joann’s has one AND my money!

  29. Pingback: I don’t care about Hobby Lobby’s supposed discrimination against Jewish holidays. | The View From Here

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