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20 Things You Didn't Know about Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby is a chain of arts and crafts stores. Since it started up in the 1970s, it has seen incredible expansion, which is why it now consists of more than 800 stores situated throughout the United States. In other words, it is a huge player when it comes to arts and crafts, so much so that it is a good idea for interested individuals to be informed about it to some extent. Here are 20 things that you may or may not have known about Hobby Lobby:

1. It Is a Private Corporation

Hobby Lobby is what is called a private corporation. This means that the corporation's shares are not bought and sold on a public stock exchange. Instead, those shares are held by a small number of shareholders. There are both upsides and downsides to this kind of arrangement, with an excellent example being how the core shareholders sacrificed ease of raising capital in exchange for increased control over how the corporation is run.

2. Founded by David Green

The founder of Hobby Lobby is a man named David Green. In total, David Green and his wife Barbara have three children named Mart, Steve, and Darsee. Both Steve and Darsee are involved in the running of Hobby Lobby. In contrast, Mart is a businessperson who has chosen to run his own business. David Green has stated that his business is built on Biblical principles, which is important because that has had a fair amount of influence on Hobby Lobby.

3. Half of Pretax Earnings Go to Evangelical Ministries

For example, David Green has made a choice to commit half of Hobby Lobby's earnings before the calculation of taxes to not one but rather a number of evangelical ministries, which is a huge number. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that he has been rather political in public. For example, David Green has spoken out against the Affordable Care Act, which might be more familiar to a lot of people under the nickname of Obamacare. In his case, his opposition was based on the fact that it required health insurance companies to include so-called morning after pills in their health coverage.

4. Is Connected to the Museum of the Bible

Speaking of which, David Green's beliefs are by no means limited to him. For example, his son Steve Green is both the founder and the funder of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., which is notable because he is also the President of Hobby Lobby at this point in time. The connection between Hobby Lobby and the Museum of the Bible has been serious cause for scandal in recent times.

5. Purchased Iraqi Artifacts with Uncertain Origins

In short, what happened was that Hobby Lobby spent $1.6 million purchasing Iraqi artifacts from dealers situated in the United Arab Emirates in December of 2010. This was a huge problem because the Iraqi artifacts had unclear origins, meaning that there was a very real chance that they had been looted from the country at some point in its recent troubles. Even worse, the Iraqi artifacts were not labelled in the correct manner when shipped into the United States, with an excellent example being how thousands and thousands of cuneiform tablets were labelled as hand-made tiles from Turkey.

6. Warned by a Cultural Property Law Expert

The suspicion that Hobby Lobby understood that what it was doing would not be accepted by the authorities is supported by the fact that it was warned. In short, Hobby Lobby consulted a cultural property law expert on the purchase months and months before the purchase. Said individual warned it that it should be very careful because the Iraqi artifacts with unclear origins could have been stolen from archaeological sites and otherwise acquired through illegitimate means. Despite this, Hobby Lobby went ahead with the purchase. Even worse, it took clear steps to conceal its wrongdoing.

7. Was Forced to Settle

U.S. Government employees at the customs office picked up on the problem when they opened the package of cuneiform tablets that had been labelled as hand-made tiles. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. government was less than impressed by Hobby Lobby's smuggling, which is why the private corporation was eventually forced to settle. It had to surrender the Iraqi artifacts that it had purchased, which were returned to the Iraqi government. Furthermore, it had to pay $3 million in fines, which is in addition to a requirement that it keep a watchful eye out for some of the Iraqi artifacts that never made it into their hands.

8. The Smuggling Was Meant to Support the Museum of the Bible

As for why Hobby Lobby would engage in smuggling, the answer is that it was supporting the Museum of the Bible. Unfortunately, the Green family's support for the institution that it founded has received a fair amount of criticism from historians and others because it seeks to interpret both Middle Eastern culture and Middle Eastern history through a Christian lens, which is not good for producing an unbiased understanding of the past. With that said, this makes the Green family no more than one in a very long line of people who have had similar goals over the centuries.

9. Doesn't Care about Forgeries

Speaking of which, it is worth noting that the Green family has been accused of not caring about whether its collection contains forgeries or not. For those who are curious, what happened was that a Dead Sea Scrolls specialist named Michael Langlois at the University of Strasbourg suspected that an item in the Museum of the Bible's collection wasn't real but rather a forgery.

As a result, he contacted the museum to report his suspicions before requesting its permission to examine it but was rebuffed with a statement that the Green family wasn't interested in the issue. Unfortunately, this is a lot more believable than it should be because religiously-motivated Biblical scholars haven't exactly covered themselves in glory with their shenanigans, with an excellent example being Scott Carroll who promoted the use of common household products to remove the burial masks of Egyptian mummies made out of recycled papyrus.

10. Won an Exemption from Contraceptive Mandate

On a separate note, some people might remember Hobby Lobby for a case it was involved in that went to the Supreme Court. Said case came to a close with it winning an exemption from the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act for its health coverage, which was met with a fair amount of outcry at the time.

11. Successful Case Based on Religious Freedom Restoration Act

The Supreme Court decided 5 to 4 in favor of Hobby Lobby. However, its decision wasn't based on Hobby Lobby's argument, which rested on a part of the First Amendment called the Establishment Clause. Instead, it was based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was passed in 1993.

12. Started Out as a Home Business

Regardless, Hobby Lobby started out as a home business. In short, David Green was working at a variety store chain called TG&Y, which is no longer in existence. He took out a $600 loan for the purpose of starting up a home business that made miniature picture frames, which was meant to capitalize on one of the home interior decorating trends that were popular in the 1970s. Eventually, the home business proved to be popular for Green and his wife to open a store, which was enough for Green to leave his job with TG&Y.

13. First Store Was in Oklahoma City

The first store was opened in Oklahoma City. It proved to be so successful that David Green had to relocate its operations from a 300-square-foot premise to a 1,000-square-foot premise. Eventually, this was followed up by a second store in Oklahoma City and then further stores in the rest of the state of Oklahoma.

14. Its Growth Has Sped Up Over Time

Hobby Lobby's growth has not been consistent over time. Instead, its growth has sped up over the course of its existence. For proof, consider how it took until 1984 for it to open up its first store outside of the state of Oklahoma. In contrast, it had its 100th store by August of 1995, which was followed by its 200th store by August of 1999.

15. Doesn't Open on Sundays

Unsurprisingly, Hobby Lobby is open on every day of the week with the single exception of Sunday, which is the day of rest for most Christians. With that said, it is interesting to note that this wasn't always the case. In short, the earliest Christians inherited the concept from the Jews, which is why they treated the seventh day as the day of rest.

However, some early Christians are known to have observed Sunday as the day of rest because that was the day when Jesus was believed to have risen from the dead. Eventually, this became so popular that it became the default, though there are some people who speculate that there might have been political factors involved in the switch to Sunday. Whatever the case, it seems probable that this particular issue will be debated for some time to come because there isn't a great deal of evidence for how the early Christians lived.

16. This Is a Matter of Principle

The leadership at Hobby Lobby has stated that not opening on Sundays is a matter of principle for them. They acknowledge that they stand to lose sales because there are still going to be people who want to make purchases on Sundays, but as far as they are concerned, they think that Sunday should be a day of rest on which people will have more time for family as well as more time for worship.

17. Doesn't Use Barcodes

Curiously, Hobby Lobby doesn't use barcodes, which have been standard practice for retailers for years and years. Instead, it continues to use manual pricing, which is by no means as convenient as its counterpart. The exact reason behind this choice is unknown. However, there are some people who suspect that it might be connected to how some Christians from a few decades back developed a fear of barcodes because they believed that it was something that the Antichrist would use to mark his followers.

18. Christian Principles Have Produced Some Beneficial Outcomes

With that said, it would be an exaggeration to say that Hobby Lobby's Christian principles have produced nothing beneficial. For example, it is interesting to note that Hobby Lobby pays its employees higher than standard wages for similar positions, which has a beneficial impact on their well-being and thus the well-being of their families. Moreover, this is the reason that Hobby Lobby has earlier closing hours, which enable their employees to make it home on time to connect with their families before they go to bed.

19. Doesn't Believe in Long-Term Debt

It is interesting to note that Hobby Lobby leadership doesn't believe in long-term debt. They do have a line of credit, which is used to cover the cost of merchandise for the holiday season. However, said line of credit tends to be paid off as soon as possible, which tends to mean December. One of the reasons that David Green has mentioned for this choice is that he doesn't believe that he should be worried at night about his debt burden hovering over his head, which is once again, very much connected to his religious beliefs.

20. Sees Debt As a Sign of Discontentment

With that said, David Green also sees taking on long-term debt as a sign of discontentment. In short, businesses often take on debt for the purpose of fueling their expansion, thus enabling them to increase their profits sooner rather than later. Green sees this as a sign of not being content with the profits that his corporation is already earning with the blessing of God, which is something that he rejects for obvious reasons. However, he has also stated that his corporation has also had problems in the past because of debt, meaning that this is also an example of him making this choice because of past mistakes.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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