, Salem, MA

Local News

November 15, 2012

Locals weigh in on the blue-law blues

To some, the Massachusetts blue laws are an unwanted vestige of the distant past. For others, they are a welcome respite from a world overburdened with materialism. In recent years, they’ve been cut back and battered with. For example, Sunday’s now a busy shopping day.

Still standing, however, is the prohibition against retailers selling their goods on Thanksgiving.

That’s created a backlash with national chains like Target and Sears plotting to get a jump on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, with near-midnight openings that observe the letter but not the spirit of the law. Meanwhile, some have suggested doing away with all the hypocrisy and simply letting people shop when they please.

A random survey of North Shore shoppers found a split between those free thinkers who would welcome an end to the laws and those who consider a day without the buzz of the electronic cash register a blessing.

“I don’t like the idea,” Elaine Maxwell said as she worked arranging a bouquet at Ward’s Florist on Lynnfield Street in Peabody. Commerce is important, she believes, “but there needs to be time for something else. For family. For yourself. For something other than your employer.”

Maxwell also suggests that the change in the law — while it surely wouldn’t require retailers to open on Thanksgiving — will touch off a competitive cycle forcing those who would otherwise keep the doors locked to open up.

“There’s too much pressure on people to keep up the pace,” she said. “The pace needs to stop.”

Some might wish to find an open store on Thanksgiving or Christmas in order to buy last-minute supplies or gifts, but Maxwell has little sympathy for them.

“If I can’t get it on time, then I haven’t planned well enough,” she said.

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