The Widdershins

Archive for October 6th, 2013

Great Sunday to you, Widdershins.  I know that this is not my usual weekend kind of post, but I did find this to be worthy of a mention; to wit, the Holly Hobby Hanukkah Hassle of 2013.  As the story goes, a woman wandered into HL, which was replete with Christmas stuff, and went in search of Hanukkah decor, which was nowhere to be found.  She then inquired about availability of Bar Mitzvah cards, and was advised that “We don’t cater to your kind here.”   She went home and told her spouse,

Hubby, it turns out, is the author of the “Hopelessly Partisan” blog.  He was moved to phone the manager of the store (located in Marlboro, NJ), and when he enquired about their Hannukah-free establishment, was advised “because Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values.”  Hubs then calls corporate HQ, and is advised that they do not carry any sort of material for Jewish holiday events.  Ar this point, he called The Religious News, and the party really started.

Billionaire owners David and Steve Green are indeed “devout Christians”.  Their stores are closed on Sunday to honor the sabbath, and the family owns a vast collection of Biblical artifacts.  While initially silent on the matter, today Mr. Steve Green published the following statement:

“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.”

Lord only knows how this will turn out, but there are a couple of issues here.  First, Mr. Green is welcome to sell what he wants when he wants to sell it.  I can guess that my local Judaica store will not be my one-stop shopping center for a baptismal gift on a Saturday afternoon.  That said, at least Judaica states plainly whom and what they are.  Ditto for The Men’s Wearhouse, Dress Barn. Payless Shoes, etc.  You’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s inside just by the name of the establishment. Perhaps Mr. Green might be better served by renaming his stores “The Christian Craft Center”.  Secondly,  the ensuing boycott of HL has sent their sales skyrocketing, as every Fundie housewife has rushed down to the store to purchase crates of glue guns in affirmation of Mr. Green’s beliefs. Finally, who knows if this was actually corporate policy or a culture limited to that particular store?

Late update:  Seems that HL has phoned the NJ family described in today’s post, and conveyed that the lack of Hanukkah decor is a simple function of efficiency  Each and every one of their 500+ stores has precisely the same inventory.  At one time, the chain reportedly carried Hanukkah stuff, but found that it did not sell well in some areas.  Simple, yet so very complicated.  Hobby Lobby is branching out into SoFla, and we have a large Jewish population.  HL is clearly a presence in the NE, an area with large numbers of Jewish folks as well.  Perhaps at another time, in another place, a solitary Christian focus might have sufficed, but new territories hold new markets, and new markets bring new needs with them. HL corporate now states that they will carry a supply of Hanukkah decor in “certain markets”.  For myself, I shall wait and see before shopping there.

This is an open thread,

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