Did Hobby Lobby Really Close 500+ Stores Due to Obamacare?

Hobby lobby storefront in the Polaris area of Columbus, Ohio
 Holly Hildreth / Getty Images

On September 12, 2012, USA Today published an op-ed piece by David Green, the CEO and founder of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts-and-crafts stores, expressing his and his family’s opposition to a certain mandate within the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

The op-ed went viral, with some websites claiming that Hobby Lobby would be forced to close up to 500 stores in 41 states as a result.

To this day, many people believe this to be true.

Hobby Lobby's Position

Green’s op-ed reads in part:

When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God’s word.
 
From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest.

We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage. But now, our government threatens to change all of that.

A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs.

The Virus Spreads

The purpose of Green’s op-ed was to rally public support for the company's religious-based legal challenge against a provision of Obamacare requiring employer-provided health insurance plans to cover emergency contraception.

As written, Mr. Green's letter makes no mention of closing any Hobby Lobby locations.

It acquired its misleading title when it was republished a year later on the political blog Tom O'Halloran.com. The blog is now defunct, but O’Halloran’s misrepresentation has been reposted many, many times since and is still circulating under that misleading headline. Why? Because it gets people riled up.

No Stores Closed Because of Obamacare

The fact is that at no time has any representative of Hobby Lobby suggested that stores may be closed in connection with the Obamacare lawsuit. Nor has Hobby Lobby closed any stores because of the Obamacare mandate. To the contrary, the company rebutted such rumors by announcing that it would open dozens of new locations in 2014 and 2015.

Continued Growth 

Between 2016 and 2017, Hobby Lobby opened over 100 new stores. It anticipates opening 60 new stores and hiring 2,500 new employees in 2018. As one of the largest private retail companies in the U.S., it reported over $4.3 billion in sales in 2016.