Andrea Langworthy's column: Different opinion
There is a movement afoot to abolish what remains of Minnesota’s blue laws; the ones which prohibit liquor stores and car dealerships from being open on Sunday.
Originally intended to keep holy the Sabbath, they once included bans on the sale of clothing, food, office supplies and household goods. A lot of states have abolished the laws. Ours is one of only 12 that still forbids the sale of “spirits” on Sunday. One of many dictating car dealerships be closed.
When I started selling cars in the mid-1970s, I worked six days a week. Whether my shift started or ended at 2:30, if I was home and a customer was at the dealership looking for me, I dropped whatever I was doing and went to work. I’m not complaining someone wanted to buy a vehicle from me but the blue laws meant I could rest easy on Sunday.
When my now-husband and I married, we were in the car business. Sunday was our for-sure day off. If we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to invite someone for a barbecue on that day, we often found ourselves ill-prepared. Grocery stores could be open on Sunday by then so food wasn’t a problem. Liquid refreshment, however, required a quick trip to Wisconsin.
“If we can order a cocktail in a Minnesota restaurant, why do we have to drive across the border to serve wine and beer in our home?” I always asked. Seeing the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” license plates in the Badger State parking lot of the liquor store, I always followed with, “Just think of the sales tax revenue Minnesota is losing.”
Years ago, a state legislator wanted car dealerships open on Sunday so his constituents could buy cars every day of the week. I looked up the man’s office phone number and called it on a Sunday. No answer. The next day, I tried again. When a receptionist answered, I told her of my dilemma. Explained I had tried to reach her boss the day before but he wasn’t there.
“Why, he doesn’t work on Sunday,” she said. Her voice dripped with disbelief that I would even suggest he should.
“I sell cars,” I told her. “Please ask your boss a question. If he doesn’t care to be available to his constituents on Sundays, why does he think I should be available to sell them a vehicle?”
I asked customers what they thought of the idea. Many said they like being able to stroll through a dealership’s inventory on a Sunday without having to talk to anyone.
The same thing the former state senator said he heard from auto dealers he wanted to be open their doors on Sunday way-back-when. In a June opinion piece he blamed the “well-financed car and liquor lobby” for his failed legislation.
Learn what the Minnesota Atheists (www.mnatheists.org) think about the laws that originally banned most kinds of work on the day of rest, too. “Liquor stores hate them. Car sales people love them,” is the site’s declaration.
What do you think? Express your opinion to the author of the latest effort to repeal our state’s restrictions, Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis (651-296-4257), and your local representatives.
I sent my thoughts to a state representative from Scott County. He and I shared an office at the first dealership where I worked. A religious man, as I recall, I’m sure he remembers the blessing of not having to work on Sunday.