After years of rumors, Bozeman’s Hobby Lobby opened Wednesday in the former Hastings building.
Handwritten signs taped to the windows of the building said the craft store will be opening at 9 a.m. on June 17. A store manager confirmed the opening date, but refused to give more information.
The chain craft store has had a few false starts in entering the Bozeman market. In September 2018, it announced a May 2019 opening date, which came and went no Hobby Lobby. In early March, the company announced a mid-May opening date, but that was before COVID-19 forced nonessential work in the state to a temporary halt.
The Oklahoma-based company has attracted national and international scrutiny several times, most recently over stolen and smuggled ancient artifacts purchased by Hobby Lobby.
According to a 2018 NPR story, the artifacts in question were mostly stone tablets. The tablets came from the ruins of an ancient Sumerian city called Irisagrig, in present-day Iraq, and were smuggled into the United Arab Emirates and Israel before being purchased by Hobby Lobby for $1.6 million.
Hobby Lobby agreed to forfeit the 3,800 artifacts to be returned to the Iraqi government and pay a $3 million fine.
Prior to that scandal, Hobby Lobby and its founder David Green were at the heart of a 2014 Supreme Court case for refusing to provide reproductive healthcare insurance to employees. The court ruled in Hobby Lobby’s favor.