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Shopping on Sundays Now a Maine Event

From Associated Press

Department store manager Jon Saucier says he transferred from New Hampshire to Maine so he could get away from having to open for business on Sundays.

But a blue law that kept large stores in Maine from opening on Sunday passes into history this weekend. For Saucier, it will be business as usual on Sunday, just as it is in every other state except North Dakota.

Saucier, manager of Service Merchandise in Augusta, sees the Sunday sales law approved by voters Nov. 6 as more of a convenience for consumers than a boon for business.

Other retail officials agree, but most--knowing that their competitors will be open Sunday--will be ready, too.

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“I think they’ll wade into it,” Saucier said. “I think it’ll be a gradual thing.”

Robert Reny Sr., president of Reny’s department stores, doubts consumers will buy more with an extra day to shop.

“There are no more dollars in that pie,” Reny said.

Reny, a leading opponent of the blue law change, said competition and consumer demand are the only reasons he plans to open his 14 stores Sunday.

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The new law applies to stores with more than 5,000 square feet of selling space.

The old law had a number of exemptions. One let large stores open from noon to 5 p.m. on the four Sundays before Christmas. Another let the L. L. Bean outdoor goods company in Freeport stay open 365 days a year.

Most Maine stores took advantage of the pre-Christmas loophole but saw business drift to New Hampshire when the holiday shopping season was over, said marketing director Marc Letendre of the Maine Mall in South Portland.

He predicted that the mall’s 140 stores will gain a significant amount of business from customers who used to shop out of state.

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