Fargo Business Owners Call for Repeal of North Dakota’s Blue Laws

Legislators in the ND House recently voted to repeal the laws Thursday

FARGO, N.D. —¬†Growing up in Devils Lake, Amber Sander says she loved getting up to work at a restaurant on Sundays.

“Sunday mornings I got the best tips, I loved working Sunday mornings it was awesome. So, I think people that want to services on Sunday also want to have access to the things they want to do after they’re done with the service,” Sander, who owns two Boots & Heels locations in Fargo and Devils Lake, said.

However, one thing they can’t do until noon on Sundays is shop for items like clothing, appliances, or kitchen supplies.

The state’s Blue Laws have been in effect since 1889, but since Maine repealed their laws in 1991, North Dakota is the only state to keep them on the books.

“I think that picking some businesses that are allowed to pick their own hours and some businesses that aren’t is a distinction the state of North Dakota shouldn’t be making,” said Brandon Medenwald, the Chairman of North Dakota Open on Sundays.

As a business owner in downtown Fargo, Medenwald says the restrictions lead shoppers to find other options across the river.

“If somebody goes to Menards and spends money in Moorhead, that money can’t be spent in North Dakota an hour or two later because they’ve already spent it, so that means losses in payroll because there’s not as many people working, it’s losses in income tax, it’s also losses in sales tax dollars. All those dollars we can keep in North Dakota will be much better for us,” Medenwald said.

Some lawmakers say the Blue Laws should stay in effect because it allows families to spend more time together, but some business owners say the changing nature of the family should not be constricted to Sundays.

“If a clothing store wants to be open at 10:00 on a Sunday morning downtown, I kind of think they should be allowed to. In a more modern day, we have different services at different times and different days, so it’s not just Sunday morning anymore,” Sander said.

With the Senate vote hanging in the balance, Medenwald says he’s hopeful the Blue Laws can be a thing of the past.

“If we are as successful at switching votes in the Senate as we just were in the House, then there’s a very good chance we can get this passed to the Governor’s desk,” said Medenwald.

The last time the North Dakota Senate mulled the future of the Blue Laws was back in 2017. There, the Senate voted it down by a three vote margin.

Categories: Business, Local News, North Dakota News