The February 20 edition of Saturday Night Live included "Grocery Store Rap," in which three Beastie Boys wannabes without masks try to make a music video in a supermarket, much to the disgust of others in the store, all of whom are complying with safety regulations.
The hip-hoppers say lots of idiotic things during the skit, but none is more ironic than an actual line delivered in a video showing members of a "freedom flash mob" complaining about their ejection from a Natural Grocers outlet in Lakewood: "Suck it up for five minutes."
Such clips are turning up more frequently of late. On February 18, a Twitter video was posted by a person who claims to have been kicked out of a Natural Grocers in Dallas for confronting anti-maskers. And earlier this month, we spoke with the man behind a video showing a mask-free shopping trip to a Natural Grocers outlet in Grand Junction. And recently, two more videos have emerged that focus on the homegrown Colorado chain, documenting incursions into a Natural Grocers store in Lakewood.
During the first visit on January 28, participants are allowed to make purchases even though they aren't wearing facial coverings — and one of the company executives is in the store at the time, they claim. In the second, on February 6, members of the group are able to pick up items at a nearby Safeway despite not wearing what one commentator describes as a "face diaper," but are rebuffed by Natural Grocers personnel and security.
In the months after COVID-19 arrived in the state, Natural Grocers, which has 41 stores in Colorado, told its employees that, for safety reasons, they should not ask patrons without masks to put one on or leave. After Westword reported this approach in November, company representatives insisted that the policy had been changed over the summer and mask usage was now required.
Nonetheless, the mask-free customers in Grand Junction were allowed to buy assorted items, and the same was true of flash-mobbers in the January 28 Lakewood video, accessible here. That video identifies one woman seen on camera as Elizabeth Isley, Natural Grocers' director and executive vice president, as well as a member of the family that founded the chain as Vitamin Cottage more than fifty years ago. Because the woman is wearing a mask, Westword has been unable to independently confirm her identity.
The February 6 video available here takes a different turn. A mask-free group is able to make purchases at the Lakewood Safeway, but is bounced from the nearby Natural Grocers.
We've reached out to Natural Grocers for comment about the latest two videos, as well as the one from Grand Junction, and the reported appearance of Isley. We've also requested comments from Safeway regarding the clip involving one of its stores. If and when we receive responses, we'll update this piece.