Cross Hobby Lobby off your list of stores to visit. A manager at a Hobby Lobby in Trussville, Ala., called the police on a Black man who was trying to make a return because he looked like someone who had stolen items previously.
Brian Spurlock told The Root he was returning something for his girlfriend. He had the receipt and the item’s original packaging. The box was opened, but the item was inside. Spurlock also said his girlfriend made it a point to ask at the time of purchase if the item was returnable, and was told it was.
But when Spurlock tried to bring the item back, the employee had to check with a store manager.
“She was looking at the receipt that I had and scratching the item off on the receipt. And she said, ‘Hey, let me get my manager to see if we [can] return this,” Spurlock told ABC 33/40, a Birmingham ABC affiliate.
The manager said the return was a problem because the box was open, despite the item being there and Spurlock having the receipt. She told Spurlock she had “to check with corporate” — about a simple return, Spurlock told The Root.
The manager was calling the police, not corporate. An officer entered the store and ID’d Spurlock. He ran Spurlock’s information and then told him that he would be arrested for trespassing if he did not exit the store.
“I asked the manager how I was trespassing,” Spurlock told The Root. “She said I resembled someone who they had caught returning stolen items.”
Spurlock was racially profiled.
The store did have a customer stealing on several occasions, the police explained in a statement.
“Hobby Lobby did have a picture of the person that was writing bad checks and making fraudulent returns and it looked somewhat like the person in the store but it did not appear to be him.”
The problem, however, was that this customer was not Spurlock — just someone who apparently looked like him.
Spurlock’s girlfriend, Ashley Maddox, eventually arrived at the store and started filming parts of the continuing exchange. One of the employees is heard saying, “I mean, if he wants to get loud, I can have him trespass, that can certainly be the case.”
“No, he’s not getting loud, he’s upset,” Maddox says.
“I’m just saying,” the employee answers.
Spurlock is not heard speaking at all during this conversation.
When Spurlock finally went outside, the police were still there waiting for him, telling him not to drive home because he only had an ID, not a license.
According to The Root, Hobby Lobby’s corporate office told Spurlock and Maddox that they do not normally require ID when making a return.
Hobby Lobby’s executive team consists of its white male CEO, its white male president and its white male chief strategy officer. Shocking