Hobby Lobby may not be open on Sundays because church, but the tacky crafts chain was insistently keeping Dallas locations open despite a coronavirus shelter-in-place until they got called out by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
At a press conference on April 2, Judge Jenkins called Hobby Lobby's action "a slap in the face to the businesses that are following this order that a few outliers are putting this community in danger."
Nearly all businesses have been closed since March 23, part of a shelter-in-place ruling across Dallas County, with the only exception being those that provide essential services including food, pet supplies, and health care items.
"Someone who is not a hero is the corporation Hobby Lobby," Jenkins said. "The company has kept some of their locations open and I just personally found out about this yesterday."
Jenkins directed his staff to prepare a cease and desist letter to Hobby Lobby, stating that the company's violation of the county's order to close could be punished as a misdemeanor or enforced by civil action. He told Hobby Lobby employees to "go ahead and lock up and leave as soon as possible."
Most Hobby Lobby stores around North Texas were subsequently closed by Dallas County Sheriff deputies. According to DFW CBS, a manager at the store at 14858 Preston Rd. came onto the intercom and told shoppers to put their items down and leave the store immediately.
Jenkins said that after he contacted Hobby Lobby, he discovered it was a bigger problem than just Dallas.
"The government and 99.9 percent of the business community put public health over profits," Jenkins said. "Hobby Lobby is taking the position that somehow the rules don't apply to them."
Hobby Lobby had initially complied with orders to close, but on March 28, decided to defiantly re-open locations in Texas, Colorado, Ohio, and Michigan, with the excuse that they sell materials that can be used to make masks. Jenkins said the business could operate online.