Podcast Episode #13: I Used 2 Know- THINGS WOULD CLOSE
THINGS WOULD CLOSE
Do you remember stores closing by 5pm? How about "Blue Laws" preventing you from shopping on Sunday? In this podcast episode we talk about how we Used 2 Know that Things Would Close. We cover the history of Blue Laws, how 7-Eleven became a 24 hr convenience store, and how you still can't go shopping on Sunday in NJ.
Back when we were growing up, the weekends could get a little stressful for our parents. Tension built up every Saturday morning as the clock started ticking away while our parents desperately tried to go to the bank.. Go to the grocery store.. The pharmacy… the liquor store… on and on… all because where we grew up “Things were Closed on Sunday”
WAY BACK TIME MACHINE:
BLUE LAWS - Laws used to promote religious standards
1300 B.C.: The 10 Commandments are introduced. Commandment #3 is “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.”
538 A.D. - The 2nd Council of Orleans. It was at this religious meeting that the world saw its very first law prohibiting Sunday labor. Before this godfearing churchgoers knew that Sunday was their holy day and that they should be in Church instead of working… now the 2nd Council of Orleans made that law.1755: Blue Laws appear in the United States
1970’s - 1980’s: TV Specials take off in a big way
Types of Blue Laws in the USA
- No Alcohol sales Sometimes just on Sunday… some states banned sales on Christmas Day as well.
- No Horse Racing
- No Car Sales…. Dealerships are closed.
- Department stores must close
- No professional sports before 1PM (Maryland)
- Restrictions on Sunday Hunting (Michigan/North Carolina)
- Though in Virginia despite hunting restrictions you still can hunt racoon, fox and bear.
- No “Singing of Vain Songs or Tunes” (New Jersey.. Of course)
- No selling electronics, clothing or furniture (again New Jersey)
- In the extreme… No sales at all for anything between Midnight and Noon on Sunday (North Dakota)
Legal Decisions involving Blue Laws
1961: Supreme Court of the United States… McGowan v. Maryland
Approved the state's blue law restricting commercial activities on Sunday, noting that while such laws originated to encourage attendance at Christian churches, the contemporary Maryland laws were intended to serve "to provide a uniform day of rest for all citizens" on a secular basis.
1961: Two Guys from Harrison vs. McGinley, 366 U.S. 582 (1961). Chief Justice Earl Warren declared that "the State seeks to set one day apart from all others as a day of rest, repose, recreation and tranquility--”
70’s and 80’s: The rise of the Shopping Mall drives a culture change and shoppers begin to petition for shops to remain open on Sunday’s
Most municipalities change their local laws to repeal or at least amend their Blue Laws.
Voters in Bergen County, NJ have voted multiple times to keep their Blue Laws in place.
It is illegal to open a store in Bergen County on a Sunday
1st offense: $250
2nd Offense: $250 - $1,000
3rd Offense: $1,000-$2,000 + Possible Jail Time!
7-Eleven (known for operating hours from 7AM to 11PM) became a 24-Hour Business by accident. In 1982 following a football game at the University of Texas, customers flooded the 7-Eleven in Austin. “It couldn’t close,” notes the company’s website. The store stayed open all night. So successful was the inadvertent model that always-open 7-Elevens began to crop up intentionally. The first all-night outpost after that event, perhaps unsurprisingly, was in Las Vegas.
Other Culture Shifts
- Federal Highway Act in 1956 helped because Truckers needed 24hrs truck stops
- Americans started to stay up later thanks to things like the Tonight Show with Steve Allen
- The american workforce started changing too- we started working later and households started to have both parents work (leaving all of the household errands for after-work hours)
- ATMs provide 24 hour access to cash
- On-Line Shopping emerges as a 24/7 option to Brick and Mortar stores
In the early days of TV, the station would play the national anthem at the beginning and end of each broadcast day. Which meant that during the nighttime hours the station would be OFF THE AIR! Something that is completely unheard of today.