“Black Friday” shopping has become so big in this country, it’s now bleeding into Thanksgiving. Curtis Picard of the Retail Association of Maine says one major reason stores started opening on Thanksgiving night is to compete with the recent explosion in online shopping.
“After people have their Thanksgiving turkey they whip out their Ipad, they go to Amazon and are able to shop 24-7. And the brick and mortar retailers realized thy we’re losing some of that market share to that,” Picard said.
But here in Maine shoppers will mostly have to stick to their laptops and tablets until midnight. Maine is one of three states that has specific prohibitions on which stores can and cannot be open on Thanksgiving. If the store is 5,000 square-feet or larger they can’t open until Friday.
Movie theaters, restaurants, pharmacies and convenience stores are among the establishments that are typically open on turkey day. L.L.Bean is the only large retail store in the state that will be open Thursday. It was grandfathered in back in the 1960’s.
There have been attempts to change the law as recently as this past legislative session when a pair of bills were introduced that would have changed the law. One bill would have allowed all stores in Maine to open up on Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas but that bill was quickly squashed.
“Christmas is a non-starter for everybody,” Picard said. “Had it just been Thanksgiving and Easter it would have gotten a little bit more discussion.”
Another measure considered by lawmakers would have changed the square footage threshold from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet but that too was shot down. Picard says he has members on both sides of the issue. Some who want to open up on Thanksgiving and some who are fine with the law as is. He says he hasn’t had any members from a national outlet call and raise a fuss about not being able to open.
“It’s been the law in Maine for decades now. People understand what the law is and comply with it. They usually open at 12:01 the ones that choose to. It’s just kind of the way Maine is.”
So for now folks around here will have to wait until 12:01 before the fun begins.