Bricks & Minifigs Canby, an independently owned franchise of a nationwide collection of stores selling new and used Lego sets, pieces and figures, has agreed to follow new state guidance requiring all employees to wear face coverings, while its owner vows to continue to fight the order he calls “potentially dangerous and potentially illegal.”
The store originally opened to the public on Saturday, May 16, in “open defiance” of the new mandatory guideline set by the governor’s office and Oregon Health Authority for retail stores, restaurants and other businesses.
“We provided Facial Coverings for employees as required and granted them Personal Freedom to wear or not wear them (no questions asked) in accordance with their own personal physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, political or medical understandings and beliefs,” said a May 17 post on the Bricks & Minifigs Facebook page by owner and operator David Thornton. “One Employee chose to wear a mask while I and two other employees did not. We all acted this way openly and without reservation by our own Free Will.”
After conversations with Bricks & Minifigs president Ammon McNeff and other representatives, which apparently came after the CNP‘s story was published Saturday, Thornton changed course.
“After some good discussion, we have made it clear and come to the agreement that all Bricks & Minifigs locations will remain in compliance with the law — and will maintain a focus on health and safety,” McNeff said in a later statement to the CNP. “While there may be a few items of follow up, we believe this issue has been resolved.”
Thornton’s post said something similar, though he maintained that his views on the matter had not changed and he would continue to fight the state’s mask requirement.
“In order to operate our business under the name Bricks & Minifigs per our Franchise Agreement, all employees interacting with customers have chosen to voluntarily comply with the OHA Facial Covering Requirement while our Community works to get this potentially unsafe and potentially unconstitutional mandate removed from the list of Requirements for Retail Businesses,” he wrote.
He goes on to defend his actions and motives, saying he is “risking our business to defend the health and personal freedoms of the families we serve.”
“If our motives were strictly financial, it would be fairly easy to just wear the masks and get to work,” he said. “But our convictions are so strong, we put our future on the line to speak up.”
Thornton himself appears in the accompanying photo, wearing a plastic face mask depicting a Lego centurion and wielding a plastic sword. The photo bears the slogan, “Compliant, Not Complacent.”
He also apologized to other Bricks & Minifigs stores in the franchise network, all of which are independently owned and operated and some of which — like the location on NE Sandy Boulevard in Portland — have gone “above and beyond the OHA requirements to reopen,” according to Thornton.
“If you are immunocompromised, concerned about exposure, or otherwise not shopping at our Canby location for any reason, please consider checking them out,” he said.
He reiterated his belief that all people should be free to believe what they choose and engage in civil discourse about their beliefs.
“Open dialogue is critical to the integrity of our Republic,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, business does not mix well with open dialogue, so maybe I am just not cut-out to be a businessman. Time will tell, I’m sure, as time reveals the endings to all stories, real or imagined.”
On Monday afternoon, shortly before the store closed, Thornton was asked his thoughts about the circuit court decision out of Baker County earlier that day, which ruled that the governor’s coronavirus executive orders were legally invalid and could not be enforced.
He said he was wearing a face covering at the time and would continue to do so until he knew more.
“I can wear it one more hour today,” he said. “I never call Victory early, if at all.”
Later that night, the Oregon Supreme Court issued an emergency stay, temporarily keeping the executive orders in effect pending the high court’s ruling on the matter.