For most of us, “blue laws” are those antiquated things that let us know what counties to avoid stopping over in on a weekend road trip, but if you live in Bergen County, New Jersey, you’re probably used to the malls not being open on Sunday. Yeah, in most of Bergen you can get some booze on a Sunday but you can’t get any pants, which sounds like a really dangerous combination. At its best, it’s kind of like Adbusters Buy Nothing Day, except it happens once a week instead of once a year. We assume that residents are usually like BFD and just go buy their pants on Saturday, but it was rather inconvenient for them last weekend when a storm tore through and flooded everyone’s basements and they apparently couldn’t hit up Home Depot or whatever for sump pumps until Monday rolled around. Soggy carpeting is soggy!
However, Bergen County’s blue law may be falling victim not to necessity but instead to a need to rake in the almighty tax dollar:
The Sunday shopping ban in New Jersey’s largest county — among the nation’s last remaining blue laws — may be lifted to satisfy the state’s hunger for more sales tax revenue. The budget proposed last week by new Republican Gov. Chris Christie assumes $65 million in new sales tax revenue by jettisoning the law starting July 1.
Some officials believe dropping Bergen County’s blue law would allow it to pick up Sunday customers from the nation’s largest metropolitan area; Manhattan is just a 20-minute cab ride away.
John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, said lifting the ban makes economic sense. He said adding a day of shopping in Bergen County would generate 3,200 jobs and more than $1.1 billion in net new retail sales a year. A portion of those sales would be from people who would have shopped online when retailers in their home county are closed.
NYC’ers — are you really dying to wake up on Sunday morning, stretch your legs, have a heaping pile of hazelnut waffles at Balthazar and head out to Paramus to hit the mall? New Jersey’s gov thinks you are, and that there are a ton of NY and NJ residents waiting for him to open the floodgates so they can come into Bergen to do their patriotic duty and consume. However, his opposition thinks the entirety of Bergen County – roads, police, fire – will come to a screeching halt if they allow for seven days of commerce. We suppose the other interesting bedfellows on the opposition side would include environmentalists and, per Holub’s quote, perhaps Amazon.com and other internet behemoths.