Kelly Bryant | 

The Missing Hobby Lobby Barcode and More of the Store’s Quirks, Explained

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There are two things you can’t ignore when walking into a Hobby Lobby — the 80’s department-style Muzak playing and the absence of product barcodes. That’s right, the Hobby Lobby barcode just isn’t a thing. They don’t appear on any of their store brand inventory. You might see a barcode on something produced by an outside company, like the label of Elmer’s Glue, but even then that barcode isn’t scanned at checkout.

This nuance (and there are more, which are actually related), doesn’t take away from any available Hobby Lobby deals, because their sale schedule is practically a work of art. But it is the kind of thing that makes you stop and wonder why — or maybe that’s just me. 

Hop on board as I dive into the missing barcode, when stores like Hobby Lobby seemingly have no issue with scannable price tags.

If you want smart shopping tips, barcodes or not, text HACKS to 57299 and KCL will send the day’s best deals straight to your phone. 

Why doesn't Hobby Lobby have barcodes? 


There’s a widely accepted theory about the non-existent Hobby Lobby barcode. It’s that the retail chain’s founder and CEO, David Green, thinks that a barcode system in stores prioritizes computers over people. He says as much in his book More Than a Hobby, published in 2010.

“The computer won’t know if products are broken or stolen,” he writes in the book. “It blithely goes on telling the staff they have such-and-such, when in fact they don’t.”

Some might argue that a barcode system might actually make employees’ day-to-day work a little easier, therefore prioritizing people. But, hey, I’m not the one running a multi-billion dollar company. As long as there are ways to save at Hobby Lobby, I’m good. 

Yes, the old Hobby Lobby coupon had a barcode-type image on it, but it wasn’t really used.


Back in the good old days there was a Hobby Lobby 40% off coupon (they did away with it in 2021). On that coupon you may have noticed what appeared to be a barcode along the bottom of it. It wasn’t a true Hobby Lobby barcode. Instead, employees used the numeric code printed on it at the register.

You'll see that same "barcode" on Hobby Lobby gift cards.

Similarly, there's a barcode-like thingamajig on Hobby Lobby gift cards just below the magnetic stripe. But you won't see employees scanning it at checkout.

Hobby Lobby employees ring up customers by manually punching in product codes.

Without a scanner or barcodes, employees flip through a catalog to find product codes in order to ring up a purchase. And then they factor in the %-off if it’s a week that item is on sale. Because, if you’re familiar with the Hobby Lobby sales schedule, then you know that their various departments alternate weeks on sale. So, for example, Hobby Lobby fabric will be on sale one week, but then the next it’s art supplies and picture frames. 

Does Hobby Lobby have self checkout?

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No barcodes means no Hobby Lobby self checkout. This presumably goes back to their founder’s whole view of people over computers. Plus, can you imagine if shoppers were to stand there and try to flip through that giant catalog of product codes to check themselves out? Nightmare central. 

Hobby Lobby doesn’t have a Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store option either.


After a global pandemic, I know I got mighty used to relying on Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store availability at all of my usual shopping haunts. However, Hobby Lobby doesn’t offer that perk. Why? Again, it has that barcode connection. Without the scan of a Hobby Lobby barcode sharing inventory status with a computer system, it’s impossible for to know how much of a product a particular store has in stock. 

Will they ever add barcodes?

Maybe, but it's not likely to happen any time soon. On their website, Hobby Lobby answers this question by saying they are considering an in-store scanner system, but don't think it's right for them at this time.

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