A letter to the Five Below family; published June 1, 2020  

Team, 

The events of the last seven days leave me deeply saddened. I’ve struggled to find the right words to express the pain, anger, heartbreak and exhaustion that come with seeing another black man’s life end inexcusably at the hands of power. Even so, I know words matter in moments like this. Paired with actions, they become our path to change and healing. I hope we can begin that process together today.

Most importantly, I want to begin by acknowledging that George Floyd was part of a family and community. He was someone’s father. A brother. Son. Friend. And most simply, a human being. Like too many before him, his life was stolen by reckless indifference. His pleas ignored. His civil rights dismissed. His humanity invisible.

Communities rightfully rallied in protest to demand justice. Soon, anger gave way to violence and now cities across our entire country are burning and broken.

On Saturday, two of our Center City stores on Chestnut and Market Street in Philadelphia were breached and looted. On Sunday, over a dozen more were damaged in cities like Chicago, Des Moines and Paducah, Kentucky. Throughout our chain, we’ve boarded up walls and closed early to protect our teams. Today, all Crew members are safe and we will continue to support anyone impacted while we rebuild.

Since the day Tom and David founded Five Below in 2002, we have been a store of the community. A company committed to diversity and inclusion. A company founded in values that embrace an adopted family and all of its unique members, celebrating (not degrading) our differences – whether they be in our creed, gender, sexual orientation, ability or skin color.

This weekend, I was in Minneapolis, a place I called home for more than a decade. A place typically alive and vibrant. I walked Lake Street and was devastated to see the destruction firsthand, smelling the smoke still rising from the rubble. In the ashes and darkness, there were glimmers of hope and the city I love. Volunteers were sweeping up debris, collecting donations and taking care of its most vulnerable.

I saw an image of a single message on a boarded wall, expressing what matters most: We are one human family. We must treat every life and every individual with respect. We must find a way to connect and build together. We must destroy and rebuild systems that work in fairness to and dignity for all, and stand side by side with those who seek to protect and serve us while holding them accountable when they fail us.

If we’ve learned anything from COVID-19, it’s that we, as Americans, are a resilient group, and viruses – like racism – will spread without decisive and collective action and compassion for others.

Please take care of each other and let us know if there are ways we can support you through this moment. You have my personal commitment that as we continue to grow as a company and further impact the cities we open in, we will find ways to proactively be a part of the solution.

My heart is with our country, our Five Below communities and all of you.

Joel Anderson, CEO

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