UPDATE: Hobby Lobby closes all stores, including the Tallahassee location

Published: Mar. 30, 2020 at 11:18 PM EDT
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By: Jacob Murphey | WCTV Eyewitness News

UPDATED: April 4, 2020

(Gray News) – Hobby Lobby announced Friday that it will close all its remaining stores due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“As the country continues efforts to manage and mitigate the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus, Hobby Lobby will, after careful consideration, close the remainder of its stores, and furlough nearly all store employees and a large portion of corporate and distribution employees, effective Friday, April 3rd, at 8:00 p.m.,” the company said in a statement.

“The stores will remain closed until further notice.”

Employees are being encouraged to file unemployment claims with their state unemployment commissions.

Previously, Hobby Lobby resisted closing in at least two states, arguing it was an “essential business.”

Sister company, Mardel Christian & Education, is also closing all store locations.

Original Story 3/30/2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- With stay-at-home orders in place across the country, many businesses are having to decide whether to stay open or turn off the lights.

One national retailer, Hobby Lobby, is trying to navigate that fine line, but not without criticism.

In some parts of the country, the craft and decor retailer has temporarily closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. But as of Monday, the Tallahassee location was still open for business.

includes a statement explaining steps being taken to prevent the spread of the virus. Dated March 17, it mentions locations are "proactively implementing measures to help minimize risks of shopping".

But some employees at the Tallahassee location have their concerns. A full-time employee who wished to remain anonymous due to fears of retaliation said it's "ridiculous".

"All we're doing right now is contributing [to the pandemic]," the employee said.

The issue raises the question about what is an "essential" business. A sign posted to the front door explains Hobby Lobby is operating as an essential business because the fabric sold there can serve as protective gear. The employee disagreed.

"We've never been an essential store," they said. "We've never sold anything that is essential."

Dr. April Knill is a Florida State business professor. She said without a top-down mandate from officials, these gray areas will happen.

"I think that it would be helpful if there were more structured guidelines from government at whatever level," she said. "Companies are concerned about remaining in business."

WCTV reached out to Hobby Lobby's corporate office for a comment on this story. They have yet to respond.