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Fill the cart or boycott Hobby Lobby?

The Dallas Morning News

July 04. 2014 7:19PM
Hobby Lobby on South Willow Street in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

This week’s Supreme Court ruling involving arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby has evoked strong emotions from consumers and has sparked a number of online debates.

Some call for a boycott of the retailer.

Others praise it for standing up for its owners’ beliefs.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that the government cannot require certain employers to provide insurance coverage for birth control if that conflicts with the employer’s religious beliefs.

Hobby Lobby, owned by an evangelical Christian family, brought the legal challenge.

A post on The Dallas Morning News Facebook page attracted more than 600 comments.

“(Competitor) Michaels will have my business from now on! I don’t shop at stores that run their business based on their own personal religious beliefs,” read one comment.

“I support them and will continue to shop there. HAPPY to be their customer,” another read.

Hobby Lobby’s owners objected to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that they must pay for contraception that they believe amounts to abortion, such as Plan B, a form of emergency contraception, and two types of IUDs. Their policy, however, will cover other forms of contraception, including birth control pills.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll of 10,693 people conducted before the ruling found that 53 percent of respondents opposed allowing employers to choose what forms of contraceptives their health care plans provide based on their religious beliefs.

The national poll found that 35 percent agreed with the idea.

With more than 500 stores in the United States, Hobby Lobby has a large stake in the arts and crafts business.

According to Forbes, Hobby Lobby had sales of about $3.3 billion last year, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. Forbes also ranked the retailer 135th among America’s largest privately held companies.

Competitor Jo-Ann’s sales rose about 5.9 percent to $2.33 billion in the same period and revenue at Irving-based Michaels rose 3.7 percent to $4.6 billion in 2013.

Will this controversial ruling affect Hobby Lobby’s sales?

Probably not, says one marketing expert.

Shama Hyder, CEO of The Marketing Zen, an online marketing firm in Dallas, likened Hobby Lobby’s stance on birth control to that of the highly publicized Chick-fil-A controversy in 2012.

“Any time a company takes a strong view on something, it garners a lot of attention. Six months from now, it’s not going to matter,” Hyder said.

She also noted that Hobby Lobby most likely won’t gain or lose sales from the controversy.

“If you’re a supporter of Hobby Lobby, you’re not going to buy more yarn. You’re going to buy the same amount that you always did,” she said.

But this week, shoppers are vocal and opinions are strong.

“I’m with Hobby Lobby and glad they are steadfast on their beliefs. They shouldn’t be forced to do something they don’t want to do,” Lashell Ross said outside of the Hobby Lobby on Preston Road in Dallas. “On the other hand, I believe in birth control.”

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