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MO: Legislator seeks to close retail stores on Thanksgiving

By   /   December 4, 2012  /   News  /   4 Comments

BLACK THURSDAY? Thanksgiving scenes like this one from Walmart last month could be a thing of the past in Missouri if a lawmaker’s bill passes.

By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog

ST. LOUIS – A Missouri lawmaker wants you to enjoy your turkey and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, but not buy a LCD high-definition TV at a low, low price.

State Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, has pre-filed what he calls the Thanksgiving Family Protection Act, which would prohibit all retail establishments except restaurants, gas stations and drug stores from opening on Thanksgiving.

Roorda said he filed the bill, which is co-sponsored by Mike Colona, D-St. Louis, in response to major retailers such as Walmart and Target moving back their Black Friday sales to Thursday.

“It’s Thanksgiving Day, not Black Friday’s Eve,” Roorda said.  “It’s just silly what these retailers are doing to the families of folks that work for them. I think government has a role in regulating the market, and in this particular case our role is clear — it’s a day that’s supposed to be about family and reflecting and giving thanks, not about corporate greed and prosperity.”

It’s a move that would seem to spit in the face of free markets.

Show-Me Institute policy analyst David Stokes said Missouri went through a similar fight with blue laws, which restricted retailers’ operation on Sundays and have largely been repealed.

“It’s not the government’s role to tell businesses when they can operate,” he told Missouri Watchdog. “It’s the stores’ decision if they want to operate and serve their customers.”

“I think that’s a poor policy choice.”

Missouri Retailers Association President David Overfelt said his organization is adamantly against the bill.

He noted that some employees volunteer to work Thanksgiving because they receive extra holiday pay.

“If a store wants to open or an employee wants to work they shouldn’t be forced not to from a policy perspective,” Overfelt told Watchdog.

It’s unfair to force Missouri retailers to close while online stores such as Amazon continue to operate on Thanksgiving, he said.

ROORDA: Thanksgiving is for families, not corporate greed.

“Stores that are only cyber are taking orders.”

Roorda filed his bill on Monday, the first full day that legislators could pre-file bills for the next regular session, which begins Jan. 9.

If the bill became law, Missouri would not be the first state to enact such legislation. A handful of states have similar laws on the books.

Maine, for example, requires that stores with more than 5,000 square feet of space be closed on Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.

Contact Johnny Kampis at [email protected] For more Missouri Watchdog updates, visit Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for a free newsletter.

— Edited by John Trump at [email protected]


Johnny Kampis is National Watchdog Reporter for Watchdog.org. Johnny previously worked in the newspaper industry and as a freelance writer, and has been published in The New York Times, Time.com, FoxNews.com and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A former semi-professional poker player, he is writing a book documenting the poker scene at the 2016 World Series of Poker, a decade after the peak of the poker boom. Johnny is also a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors.

  • Ed

    The Show Me Institute supports the “free market,” except when it doesn’t. In this case, the Institute wants business owners to make decisions on how to run the business, not government. I can get behind that to a degree.

    The hypocrisy here is that The Show Me Institute, especially David Stokes, has long supported Missouri’s state legislature use the power of government to repeal a voter supported law making it illegal for monopoly electric utilities to pre-charge its captive customers, by increasing electric rates, before a service is provided. Meaning, Ameren wants to be allowed to use its customers as a bank in order to finance a nuclear reactor so risky that Wall Street financiers won’t touch the investment. Financing nuclear power through upfront rate-hikes on customers and the use of hundreds of millions of taxpayer subsidies “spits in the face of free markets,” but the Show Me Institute supports it nonetheless.

  • Just fishing for campaign monies, threaten them until they give you money, Democrats practice CHICAGO STYLE

  • clydealan

    Bravo! The almighty profit is slowly creeping its influence into more and more of our lives and government. Hopefully this measure will pass thereby allowing all families to enjoy the full of Thanksgiving day. Greed should not empty seats at a Thanksgiving table by forcing someone to work at a retail outlet.

  • What a waste of a law! No one is making anyone go shopping on Thanksgiving, it is a personal choice. I may be for a law banning commercials to kids, but this is downright silly.