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Mass. Retailers Take Stand on Blue Laws


The Business News starts with a turkey of a law.

(Soundbite of music)


And after hearing this report, you can decide if that was a turkey of a pun. If you forgot to buy stuffing for your turkey or ran out of cinnamon for your pumpkin pie and you live in Massachusetts, you may have to go without. State laws dating back to the 1600s prohibit retailers larger than convenience stores to open on Thanksgiving. But some are planning to flout the blue laws and open their doors anyway.

From member station WBUR in Boston, Monica Brady-Myerov reports.

Ms. MONICA BRADY-MYEROV (Reporter, WBUR): In a state that has legalized gay marriage, it's still illegal to sell turkeys, TVs, or turtlenecks on Thanksgiving or Christmas. But this year, some retailers plan to open anyway. Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, says stores that open today probably don't understand the law.

Mr. JON HURST (President, Retailers Association of Massachusetts): It is a complicated law. It's an old law. I don't think anyone, whether be the stores or the local police chiefs, are looking to break the law.

Ms. BRADY-MYEROV: Hurst says no association members have ever asked to change the Puritan law because it's unclear if it would be profitable. The Attorney General's Office says it's confident all retailers are aware of the restrictions. This year, the grocery chain Whole Foods Market, was denied special permission to open today. It is open in most states. The Asian food store, Super 88 Market, plans to open five of its six locations in greater Boston, according to managers and employees. Last year, one Super 88 was shut down by police on Thanksgiving.


In the parking lot of a Super 88 in Boston, shoppers Steven Tarakman(ph) and Veronica Peppin(ph) says the laws should be changed.

Mr. STEVEN TARAKMAN: I think the laws are antiquated that it says that it should close, because - well, if people need grocery, they should be able to come get them even if it's Thanksgiving.

Ms. VERONICA PEPPIN: There's a cultural difference that, you know, Chinese people may not be eating turkeys on Thanksgiving. So, I think they should be allowed to open.

Ms. BRADY-MYEROV: One outlet shopping mall has found a clever way around the restriction. It's opening one minute after midnight.

For NPR News, I'm Monica Brady-Myerov in Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.