In October 2017, social media users re-shared a four-year-old Internet meme announcing that the craft store chain Hobby Lobby, whose president is an outspoken conservative Christian known for holding controversial views, will not sell craft items for Jewish holidays:
The meme dates from September 2013, when online reports surfaced accusing the retailer of failing to stock dreidels, menorahs, and other Hanukkah items, including one source that said a clerk in the chain’s Marlboro, New Jersey location had turned away a Jewish customer, saying, “We don’t cater to you people.”
However, Hobby Lobby responded quickly to those reports by issuing a personal apology from their president, Steve Green, on 3 October 2013:
We sincerely apologize for any employee comments that may have offended anyone, especially our Jewish customers and friends. Comments like these do not reflect the feelings of our family or Hobby Lobby.
Our family has a deep respect for the Jewish faith and those who hold its traditions dear. We’re proud contributors to Yad Vashem, as well as to other museums and synagogues in Israel and the United States.
We are investigating this matter and absolutely do not tolerate discrimination at our company or our stores. We do not have any policies that discriminate; in fact, we have policies that specifically prohibit discrimination.
We have previously carried merchandise in our stores related to Jewish holidays. We select the items we sell in our stores based on customer demand. We are working with our buyers to re-evaluate our holiday items and what we will carry in the future.
The next day, Hobby Lobby announced on their Facebook page that “due to overwhelming demand,” some Northeast locations would begin stocking Jewish holiday items on a trial basis:
In turn, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement accepting Green’s apology:
We are satisfied with the apology of Hobby Lobby and appreciate the company’s efforts to investigate the incident and to ensure that it does not happen again. Since the allegations about the employee’s comments first came to light, Hobby Lobby’s representatives have been in direct contact with ADL and have assured us in unequivocal terms that their company has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and that decisions on the merchandise they carry are based on consumer demand, not out of a lack of respect for other faiths.
While acknowledging Hobby Lobby’s announced intention to expand its product line to include Jewish holiday items, the ADL’s statement also said merchandisers have the right to decide which items to include in their inventory, a decision they said is “theirs and theirs alone.”