Internal memos detail Hobby Lobby’s lackadaisical Coronavirus response…
5:14 AM EDT on March 23, 2020
Last Thursday, as the Coronavirus cloud of doom spread across America like The Nothing from The Neverending Story, Hobby Lobby founder David Green – a man worth approximately $6,400,000,000 – issued a Daily Devotional-style open letter to his "wonderful" 43,000 employees.
The letter eventually found its way Twitter...
In all fairness to Hobby Lobby, the letter doesn't address the retailer's foolish decision to let foolish shoppers continue to shop in their arts and crafts stores as an invisible virus hides in plain sight, infecting, wounding and killing thousands and thousands of people.
It also doesn't address the company's bizarre decision to require 4,000 people in the metro to work at the corporate office and distribution center in South Oklahoma City when the work could easily be done at home.
No, it's really nothing more than a vague, out-of-touch, churchy motivational speech that alludes to hard times ahead, while not taking hard time ahead seriously.
After the letter made the rounds on social media, we acquired via The Ogle Mole Network three other internal memos issued during the month of March that illustrate the company's lagging response to the Coronavirus crisis.
The first memo was sent by Company founder David Green on March 3rd, a.k.a. Super Tuesday. Although it outlines restrictions on some forms of air travel, it – like a lot of people, business and government officials were doing on March 3rd – tends to downplay the immediacy of the threat. It basically acknowledges Coronavirus's existence with some now-dated CDC talking points, but that's it:
The company followed that memo with another one a week later, on March 10th. It outlines some owner-friendly HR policies, but that's about it:
For most people in Oklahoma, the Coronavirus became incredibly real the very next day, when the Oklahoma City Thunder / Utah Jazz game was postponed and the NBA season suspended. Since then, the bar and restaurant scene has shuttered and schools have all closed, all while our hospitals prepare for the worst the best they can.
Despite that dire situation, everything appears to be business as normal at Hobby Lobby. Stores remain open where they're allowed to be open, and 4,000 employees at their massive corporate headquarters and distribution center on S. Council are still expected to show up for work.
On Thursday, March 19th, nine days after the previous memo, David Green sent another memo to these campus employees. It wasn't to announce the details of a plan for them to work remotely, or what the company will do when it has to shut down before the pandemic gets out of control.
Instead, it was just a friendly reminder about social distancing.
I know I'm not the God-chosen billionaire-owner of an arts and crafts empire that exploits cheap overseas labor for massive profits, but isn't that a bit late. If people don't know about social distancing at this point, you should probably just fire them.
A few hours later, Green released the letter that's generated all the negative attention:
Yep, there you go Hobby Lobby employees: Guide, Guard and Groom. That will get you through this pandemic unscathed.
Seriously, what a tool. We're facing a generational public health crisis and complete meltdown of the global economy, and this billionaires response is "Chill out. Tighten your belt. My 'Prayer Warrior' wife reached out to the deity who created the Coronavirus." I wonder how that would even work?
"Look Gabriel! The living virus that I, the all powerful Yahweh, has created is working! My humans are finally suffering atonement for voting for... wait... what's that... the woman I turned into an arts and crafts billionaire is on the prayer line!"
"I believe she's asking for guidance, my Lord!"
"Tell her it's not my fault — the Devil sold them forged biblical artifacts. I had nothing to do with it. They should have known better."
"I believe she's asking for guidance on the pandemic you created, my Lord."
"Oh, tell her Guide, Guard, and Groom. I can't wait to see that painted on a cross-shaped wall ornament soon."
Well, at least that's how I assume the conversation would go.
Anyway, in these scary times, when every day not spent attempting to slow the spread of the Coronavirus is a wasted opportunity, it appears that Hobby Lobby's founder David Green is more concerned about making money than looking out for the health and safety of employees.
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