The owner of Bricks & Minifigs Canby has apologized for a May 15 live Facebook video (since deleted), in which he tore up a copy of Governor Kate Brown’s reopening guidelines and ranted about her new requirements for face coverings in retail settings.
“I did go off the rails a little bit,” said David Thornton, owner/operator of the store on Highway 99E. “It was a hard month; I’m not going to make excuses. But I did do some inappropriate things, and I made some inappropriate comments, as well.”
The store, an independently owned franchise of a nationwide collection of stores selling new and used Lego sets, pieces and figures, originally opened to the public on Saturday, May 16, in “open defiance” of the mask mandate.
But, after discussions later that day with the Bricks & Minifigs corporate office, which reminded him of the stipulations of his franchise agreement requiring adherence to all federal, state and local guidelines, Thornton reversed course, agreeing to follow the law, while vowing to continue to fight it for reasons of health, safety and personal freedom.
The original video, which he removed at the request of the corporate office, had been part of a Facebook video series, “Live at Five,” Thornton started during the Covid-19 shutdowns to auction off new sets and collectibles the store had acquired.
His apology video, posted one week later, on May 22, was also part of this series.
“I made a mistake,” he said. “I did. I have a venue with my friends and my customers, and I used it inappropriately. It wasn’t fair to my viewers. It wasn’t fair to any of the children. It wasn’t fair to the other [Bricks & Minifigs] stores. It wasn’t fair to anybody, really. It wasn’t fair to the governor, and the hard work she’s been doing.”
He began by making an emotional apology to local children, at whom his store and the “Live at Five” videos are primarily aimed.
“I was the adult in the room, and I should have made better choices,” he said.
He also acknowledged the impact his comments may have had throughout the Bricks & Minifigs franchise network, including other locally owned stores in Portland, Beaverton and Eugene.
“If this has cascaded toward you, I apologize,” he said emphatically. “It was not my intention.”
Thornton’s original comments, and the Canby Now Podcast‘s coverage of them the following day, prompted a quick response from the franchise office in Utah, as well as criticism from other Bricks & Minifigs store owners.
“I failed to take my responsibilities seriously as a franchise member, and that’s affecting all of us,” he acknowledged.
Bricks & Minifigs Canby marked its 10th anniversary this year, in the midst of the shutdown. Thornton has owned it for about three years, but has a background in performance, art, mass communications and activism, he said.
He admitted that — for him, anyway — the lines had blurred a bit between his own personality and beliefs, and the store in which he had so deeply invested himself.
“Lego and Bricks & Minifigs is so much bigger than David Thornton,” he said. “It’s bigger than ‘Plandemic.’ It’s bigger than Canby, Oregon.”
He also attributed his actions to the difficulty and financial strain of the eight-week shutdown, during which he had pivoted to online and drive-through services, while keeping his five staff members on the payroll.
In an interview on the Canby Now Podcast one month ago, he said he’d feared that if they closed during the shutdown, they were unlikely to ever open again.
But last week, he thanked customers who had faithfully supported the store during the shutdown and since reopening — including some who share Thornton’s views about masks and the governor’s guidelines, and who had visited for that reason. In the video, he said his store is here to stay.
“Bricks & Minifigs is not going anywhere,” he said. “And we’ll be trying to make it as absolutely safe as we can for your kids, within the requirements of the law and our own capabilities.”
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