UK Toy Store Forgoes Profit by Closing on Christmas Eve so Employees Can Take Sunday Off
A U.K.-based toy store is set to lose millions this holiday season by closing on one of the busiest shopping days of the year—Christmas Eve.
The store’s Christian owner has committed to giving his staff Sundays off, even if it costs the store an estimated £2.3million ($3 million).
“The Entertainer is closed on Sundays so our staff can spend time with their families. This means we will be closed this Christmas Eve,” the store posted on Facebook Saturday, Dec. 16.
“We support the ‘Keep Sunday Special’ campaign. Have a wonderful weekend.”
Owner Gary Grant founded the store with his wife Catherine in 1981, and they now have 146 stores in the U.K. and 14 franchises in other countries, according to a December press release. The company employs over 1,500 people in total.
“We are a values driven, family business with amazing people working in our teams. We sell fun products but we work hard,” the store says in its “About Us” section on the website.
“Keeping the Sabbath holy is one of the Ten Commandments,” Grant said, according to the Mirror.
“As a Christian, I believe in families. … For our staff, the fact they have a day off with the family on a Sunday is really important.”
The company’s mission, according to its website, is to be “the best-loved toyshop–one child, one community at a time.”
It prides itself on donating to children’s organizations, and matching donations its employees make to charity.
There was a time when the company wasn’t always this value-focused, however.
In a video posted to the store’s Youtube account, Gary said he and his wife bought a toy store that had gone on the market in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, purely as a business investment.
Catherine had always been a churchgoer, but it wasn’t until shortly after they opened the store that she “absolutely saw it,” she said. “And I really felt the spirit, and it was just like, nothing was ever the same.”
As Catherine moved more into her faith, she and Gary lived in increasingly different realities. Catherine’s one wish for her husband was that he would find God, “but never in a million years did I believe he actually would,” she said.
When they were about to open their third store in 1991, Catherine got Gary a ticket to a Christian men’s breakfast at her church. At the breakfast, he heard a speaker who brought him to tears, and in his words, “God just got me.”
This changed everything, especially how they ran their business, Catherine said.
They re-thought about what they were putting on store shelves, the hours their employees worked, and even whether they would allow vulgar language in the warehouse.
“It completely changed the way I approached business,” Gary said.
Taking Sundays off, no matter how big a profit they could lose, was one of the ways they chose to live their faith.