Motorcycling News

Missouri Blue Law Repeal on Motorcycle Sales - One Year Later

Written by  May 31, 2015

Blue laws in the United States vary by state. By definition, Blue laws are laws that were historically designed to “enforce” religious standards. Because of this “law,” many states prohibit the selling of particular items on Sundays, including groceries, alcohol, office supplies, housewares, cars, and even motorcycles; under the rationale that people should be in church on Sunday rather than out spending their money and supporting our economy.

History was one of my favorite subjects in school, and correct me if I’m wrong; however, as I recall, our First Amendment clearly expresses a clear need for a “separation of church and state,” which was important enough that Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers decided it should be included in the build blocks of our country.

So if that’s the case, I ask you “How in the hell did the “Blue Law” ever come into being?” Is there more to it, or is simply one of those things that make you go “Hummm???” I mean, if a retail business chooses on their own to be closed on Sunday (or any other day for that matter), when the vast majority of their customers are off work and wanting to spend their hard-earned money, that’s their business (or lack of the); however, from a customer service and economic standpoint, it’s a completely idiotic decision. Besides, if an employee wants to go to church on Sunday morning, I'd wage to bet that business owners would be more than happy to accommodate their request. Thankfully, most states have eliminated, or greatly scaled back the effects of the Blue law, but until just recently, not every state, including Missouri, was that smart.

OK…I’ll get off my soapbox now and get to the meat of the story.

If you don’t believe one person can make a difference in this crazy world, when it comes to laws and bureaucracy, I’m about to prove you wrong. Last year, Rick Worth, the owner of Worth Harley-Davidson in Kansas City, Missouri, decided it was time for someone to do something about the archaic Blue law regarding the Sunday sale of motorcycles in Missouri.

Like many Missouri businesses, Rick was frustrated about losing sales and upsetting his customers because he couldn’t sell (or even talk about) motorcycles on Sundays, while his competition just a few miles away in Kansas were taking full advantage of the opportunity. After hiring a team of attorneys and lobbyists to go to bat for him in Jefferson City, and having to personally deal with those who opposed the idea, on Thursday, August 28, 2014, all of Rick’s hard work and efforts paid off, when HB 1735 went into effect. The House Bill “Allows for the sale of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, personal watercraft, and other motorized vehicles sold by powersports dealers on Sundays.”

The purpose for my meeting with Rick was to see how the repeal of the Blue law on selling motorcycles had impacted his business, now that it’s been almost a year since going into effect. Rick said “We’re selling at least 30-35 motorcycles every Sunday. It’s a win-win for the dealerships, the state (i.e. increased sales tax), and most importantly, the riding community.”

Rick had stated earlier in our conversation that “Approximately 95% of the motorcycle dealerships in Missouri were against it.” With a background of over 23 years in the retail industry, this made absolutely no sense to me, so I asked him to please explain. He told me how most dealerships actually like being closed on Sundays, and most often on Mondays as well, because they didn’t want to have to work seven days a week. Rick also pointed out that although his dealership is now open seven days a week, nobody at his dealership, including him, work seven days a week. I thought I was still missing something, because being closed on Sunday that still made absolutely no sense from a customer service and economic standpoint. Rick then went on to explain that although dealerships could still choose to be closed on Sundays, their fear is that if their competition began opening on Sundays, they’d be forced to be open as well in order to remain competitive. Although that makes total sense, it still seems to me that the owner of a retail business would want to be open when their customers need their services and goods. Plus, being open on Sundays (and Mondays) creates more Missouri jobs, because the dealerships need more staff to support the seven day work week. In other words, there is no downside to this. I mean “Duhhh???”

I’ve been riding motorcycles for more over 45 years now (yes, I know I’m old), and I’ve traveled all over the US on my bike. Like you, when planning a long distance motorcycle trip, you just “Hope to God” you don’t break down or need parts or service while traveling on Sundays and Mondays, which as you know, is when most people actually choose to travel. Rick agreed, and went on to say, “If you’re traveling on the weekend, even on a Saturday afternoon, and you happen to break down, you’re most likely stranded until at least Tuesday.” I mean isn’t that the craziest thing, especially because of some idiotic and archaic law? If you disagree, please get back with me the next time you find yourself stranded in BFE for 2-3 days because the local motorcycle dealerships are closed.

Rick then went on to explain that although the majority of Missouri dealerships were against HB1735, a few dealerships, especially those located in border cities such as Kansas City and St. Louis have embraced the new law, and are now open on Sundays as well.

In closing, please keep in mind that just because a law is currently in effect, even if it’s an outdated and incredibly stupid law that should have never been passed, such as the Blue law, you don’t have to just sit back and take it. If you feel strongly enough about something, rather just sitting around moaning and groaning, get up off your butt and make a difference!

So what’s next? Sunday car and boat sales in Missouri? Things that make you go “Hummm???”

Mike Schweder

Editor-in-Chief - Kansas City, MO

Mike is the original founder of Cycle Connections Online Motorcycle Magazine and an avid motorcycle enthusiast. He has been riding for over 40 years, belongs to several local and national motorcycle organizations and travels to numerous rallies and events throughout the US each year. Mike has been a writer and editor for many years and has a passion for sharing his motorcycling experiences and stories with you. Contact Mike at mikes@cycleconnections.com

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