Hobby Lobby has reopened one of its western Illinois stores, and the move has immediately sparked complaints from concerned citizens to the town's mayor. With the arts and crafts chain reopening in Peru, Illinois per radio station, LCBC-103.9, the town's mayor Scott Harl states while the store previously informed him of their intention to reopen, the move has prompted many in the county to contact his office. He further states he has since been in contact with the county's health department over the matter.
Located in LaSalle county, local newspaper The Times reports its state attorney, Karen Donnelly argued for the opening among other businesses, stating "if Walmart and Hobby Lobby can open, why can't small businesses?" Donnelly later commented on the safety questions surrounding the move, retorting how it's "up to businesses to weigh their risks versus their opportunity," further adding how the county has to "do something to save the stores and restaurants in our towns that mean so much."
Hobby Lobby has made headlines over the past couple of months regarding its response to non-essential store closures. The company self-defined as an "essential" business early on, but this status was refuted by many citizens and lawmakers. The company previously issued a statement that read: "We know our customers relied on us to provide essential products, including materials to make personal protective equipment, such as face masks, educational supplies for the countless parents who are now educating their children from home, and the thousands of small arts and crafts businesses who rely on us for supplies to make their products."
Hobbly Lobby's statement came at the same time that the company began slashing employee salaries, as well as letting some go. Vice President of the creative arts division, Darsee Lett, issued a letter to terminated employees shortly after. "It is with a tremendously broken heart that I’ve been forced to take these unimaginable actions, and I genuinely hope you know that my prayers are with you and your family. It has been such an honor having you on my Team. I truly and deeply appreciate your service to this Department and the Company, and with you the very best as this calamity hopefully ends in the very near future."
At this time, it is unknown when Hobby Lobby will have all of its stores reopened and operating, but this will likely depend on local ordinances rather than national ones. The chain has also reopened in New Mexico, with its Roswell location opening its doors to customers, leading to a similar argument like Donnelly's from its county sheriff.
"They're equivalent to Walmart, Home Depot, Big Lots, all the other places, Big Lots, Target, that are already open," Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington told KOB4. "And instead of having all these people have to go to Walmart, or all these people have to go to these other locations, you kind of have to spread 'em out."