Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. sought to quash Internet rumors that it planned to close some or all its stores with Wednesday’s announcement that the Oklahoma City retailer will open 70 new stores this year.
The planned expansion, which includes the firm’s first arts-and-crafts stores in Oregon and Vermont, would increase the company locations to 626 across the nation.
Hobby Lobby is owned by its founders, David and Barbara Green, who operate the business according to the family's Christian convictions. The firm is in the midst of a legal battle against mandates in the Affordable Care Act requiring firms to provide insurance coverage for certain contraceptive drugs and devices that the Greens believe conflict with their religious beliefs.
The company acknowledged that the lawsuit “may be driving the incorrect rumors” of store closings. In at least a couple of instances that have been spread via social media, websites have printed the statement the company issued when it filed the lawsuit underneath a headline reporting that the firm would close stores. The company’s initial statement did not mention store closings.
Hobby Lobby’s case is scheduled to be heard next month before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to deliver a decision by June.
“The Green family is confident that their religious freedom will be protected, and that they will continue to operate Hobby Lobby according to their faith,” Peter Dobelbower, general counsel for Hobby Lobby, said in a statement. “The Greens recognized that they were being forced to either violate their religious beliefs or violate the law. That’s a choice no American should have to make.”
The company on Wednesday said it values its customers, 16,000 full-time employees and 12,000 part-time employees.