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Curtain to lift on Sunday sales?

November 22, 2013
Illinois Sen. Jim Oberweis, R- Sugar Grove, who intends to introduce legislation to revoke the state’s Sunday closing law for dealerships, stated his reasoning at the Nov. 20 meeting of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association board of directors.
Since gaining elective office this year after six attempts, Obeweis said “three to five people” have asked him why they can’t buy a car on a Sunday. The new senator said he thought to himself: “That’s insane. Why would that be?”
Illinois is one of 22 states that restrict dealers from selling automobiles on Sundays. Then-Gov. James Thompson signed the legislation in 1982, but the law faced several court challenges before taking effect in November 1984.
“Fundamentally,” said Oberweis, “I’m a guy who thinks government should be as little involved in our lives as possible. In the long run, this (law) is something that is not good for our state.”
The CATA directors, all new-car dealers, think otherwise.
Dealers sought the law decades ago as a way to retain the highest caliber employees; workers who didn’t want to work Sundays weren’t long for the store, and the same is true today.
“The backbone of our business is the people who work for us and their families,” said Mike McGrath Jr. “To attract good people, it’s a competitive advantage to have Sunday off.”
Oberweis remembered a time when barbers were forced to close on Sundays. He said, “Barbers now cut hair on Sundays, and consumers love it.”
Dave Sloan, the CATA president, pointed out that buying a car is more complicated than getting a haircut. “Banks aren’t open on Sunday,” Sloan said. “You can’t close on a house on Sunday. We need to be closing on these (car) deals when the banks are open.”
Other directors cited higher operating costs and the threat of employee unionization if the Sunday closing law was rescinded, and they noted the number of hours dealerships already are open. “There are 144 other hours a week for (consumers) to buy a car,” said CATA Chairman John Webb.
Also, consumers often use Sundays to visit dealership lots for unfettered looks at the vehicle models and available options.
Oberweis suggested he is looking for legislation he can champion in the General Assembly, where Democrats have veto-proof majorities in both chambers. He said: “I have no chance of solving big issues with Democrats versus Republicans. I can do nothing, or I can try to pass what I can get support for.”
In other news, Oberweis just announced plans to run in 2014 for the U.S. Senate.