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Hobby Lobby doesn’t use barcodes: Here’s their explanation

(NEXSTAR) – There is hardly any item you can purchase that doesn’t have a barcode. In fact, getting to the checkout only to learn your item doesn’t have a barcode can prove to be a challenge. 

Unless you’re shopping at a certain national retailer — then a barcode may actually be a problem. 

Frequent visitors to Hobby Lobby may have noticed that their cashiers don’t scan tags but rather manually enter the item’s price and, if applicable, sale prices. 

Why?

Some have speculated that Hobby Lobby, well-known for being owned by Evangelical Christians, fears barcodes are the “mark of the beast,” which is mentioned in the final book of the Bible. There, in the Book of Revelation, a beast is described. That apocalyptic beast would put its mark on all people, and that things could not be bought or sold “unless they had the mark.”

The idea that the barcode is a “mark of the beast” stretches back to the 1970s, according to Wired. George Laurer, creator of the modern UPC, reportedly called the idea that it has any connection to the Bible “ludicrous.”

It’s hard to say that that lore has any impact on Hobby Lobby’s decision to not use barcodes. Former employees have debunked the claim, including TikTok user @arenclelle, who said the company’s owner simply believes in the power of humans over computers. 

Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green wrote in his book, “More Than a Hobby,” that opting against barcodes and scanners at registers puts people first. He writes that he doesn’t want employees to think the company values computers over them, according to a summary of his book.

Green also explained in his 2010 book that he believes employees will have a better understanding of what is in the store if they take inventory manually rather than trusting a computer to tell them what is and isn’t in stock. 

Though some have faulted Hobby Lobby’s checkout process as slow or inconsistent (cashiers have to manually enter sale prices, which often change weekly), it likely won’t change anytime soon.

“We have considered scanning at our registers, but do not feel it is right for us at this time,” Hobby Lobby writes on its website

Hobby Lobby did not respond to Nexstar’s request for comment.

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