Hennen Column: Time To Turn Back The Clock On Holiday Shopping?


Another “Black Friday” is in the books and “Thanksgiving creep” is the latest retailing craze. I’m busy remembering the days when a 7am start was “opening early for your shopping convenience.” Now it’s crept into Thanksgiving Day. Enough already. Being the capitalist free enterprise fan I am, I have great respect for the premise of willing buyer, willing seller. Profit is a good thing, it creates jobs and allows employees to provide for their families. With more and more competition from on-line options, bricks and mortar stores need to get even more creative to attract customers. Fine. But can we draw the line on Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Would it be so bad to have all stores and restaurants closed on these two sacred holidays? I’m not joining the wacky anti-Wal-Mart union protestors, but I am of the opinion that our culture is fast deteriorating. Much of that can be attributed to the disintegration of families. Maybe if we start by returning to the days when towns shut down on Thanksgiving and Christmas, we’d spark an effort to turn back the clock to what matters most. The alternative is to stand by and watch it get worse.

I’m not advocating for a return to the days of the blue laws controlling whether stores should be open, I’d prefer that common sense to dictate it. And I’m not naive enough to think that a simple gesture like this would reverse years of cultural decline and sad statistics on American families. But how about this one small gesture? What would it hurt? North Dakota has nation leading job economic growth thanks to record oil production and another great farming season, why not show America that our ancestors had it right and we’re turning the back the clock to the days of allowing everyone the opportunity to be with families on these holidays? Might it start a “follow the leader” stampede? Who knows. But, it would make us a better place in 2 more ways than we already are.

I brought this topic to my listeners on the Common Sense Club. The debate was fun. The owner of a Minnesota Truck Stop shared this story:

“We are open every day of every year now, but when I bought it 10 some years ago, due to employees recommendations, I closed on Christmas Day. But I went to the store as a new owner one Christmas.

Wow, I remember a grandma stopping and asking for baby supplies as they were traveling. We were closed, but I was there and I let her in for the supplies. The tills were empty with no cash.

I just let her take the baby supplies and have a great day. I have never closed since – we serve our traveling customers”.

While that is a nice story of a heartwarming gesture from a store owner, isn’t this simply an example of how much we expect stores to be open on holidays? And if stores being closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas were “the norm”, wouldn’t Grandma’s simply stock up before a holiday trip?

Here is another comment:

“I was a teen back in the 80’s when the Sunday opening was being debated. I clearly remember being with my dad, a cattle rancher in western ND, when his banker asked him what my dad thought of the Sunday opening. My dad replied: ‘I hope everything is open on Sunday. I can drop off my cattle at the sale barn before church, then after church get something to eat, drop the wife off at the grocery store and go get my cattle check and put it in the bank…I won’t have to come back to town til next Sunday’. The look on the bankers face was priceless. Lets get back to being closed on Sunday and holidays”.

Feel the momentum? Not everything about the “good old days” is better. But I love the idea of taking a page form the Hobby Lobby playbook and seeing stores with a “CLOSED this HOLIDAY so our employees can spend time with their FAMILIES too”. We’d survive. And North Dakota would be better for it.

Scott Hennen hosts a daily radio talk show from 11am to 2pm on AM 1100 “The Flag from Fargo, ND and WBKK AM 820 in Bemidji, Minn plus heard from 2 to 5pm on AM 1090 KTGO in Tioga/Williston, N.D. Listen at ScottHennen.com, join him on Facebook and Twitter too.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

Related posts

  • Matthew Hawkins

    What are Jews going to do on Christmas if all the Chinese restaurants are closed?

    • Dave

      Now that’s funny stuff, right there.

  • 11B40


    I grew up in the Bronx of the ’50s and ’60s. Back then, the so-called “Blue Laws” prevented most commercial businesses from operating on Sundays. There were a few exceptions, like gas stations and restaurants, but businesses mostly closed down.
    I don’t recall passing any department stores with people banging on the doors trying to get in and it made it easy for friends and families to schedule social or familial events and the large majority of people would be off from work.

    When the civil rights agitators discovered this form of oppression, the courts dealt the society a grievous blow. I’m quite convinced that doing away with the Sunday closures was a victory for mammon over God and family, almost as bad as the NFL.

    • Rick Olson

      North Dakota actually was the last holdout in the entire country (and still is partially) on the subject of Blue Laws. Up until 1989, most retail businesses (including bars and liquor stores) were locked up on Sundays. In 1989, the Legislature after some 100 years of fighting the subject finally relented and allowed stores to open on Sundays from 12 noon on. Nothing was open…the malls, not even Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc. As I recall any retailer who dared to open on Sunday back then was dealt with severely and they would have to answer to those charges in court because there was actually a criminal penalty in place for breaking the blue law. So, technically, North Dakota still has a blue law, but it is only in force between midnight and 12 noon on Sundays.

      • 11B40


        All my heritage was Irish, so Catholicism was a big part of it. On Sunday’s, Mass was scheduled on the hour from 6am to 12 noon with a last Mass at 12:45pm. Because of the “Blue Laws”, bars (aka restaurants) weren’t allowed to open until 1pm, some kind of no-compete clause, I guess. So, when one missed Mass because of a hangover but showed up at the bar in the early afternoon, it was known as going to “the one o’clock Mass”.

  • KJUU

    How about owners being the ones to work the stores on these two holidays, surrounded by employees who volunteer to work at double pay? Plus a free (good) meal?

    If I work on a paid holiday, I get that pay plus time and a half. To use a consumerist word I absolutely detest: incentivize. (I don’t even think it’s a real word, and neither does spellcheck.)

  • Rick Olson

    I remember the day when most stores were closed on nearly all of the legal holidays. Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, etc. It wasn’t all that long ago…maybe 20 years ago or so. I agree wholeheartedly that we should go back to the time when stores were closed on Thanksgiving. But with Black Friday the way it is, I assume there would be nothing to prevent a store from opening at midnight on Friday. All of this Black Friday stuff feeds into the American consumer psychology. It’s tragic the stories we see about fights and even shootings which have taken place on Black Friday.

  • Lynn Bergman

    I have a novel approach… why not let individual businesses decide when to open & what to sell and keep the government out of that decision?
    I pray in my own home or out in nature… when I desire to pray. I also pray in church, but the stores being open or closed during that time is immaterial to my personal decisions.

    • tony_o2

      Shopping on Sundays and holidays is hazardous to your moral health. If stores were allowed to set their own Sunday and holiday schedules, people would be forced to shop since they are incapable of making their own moral health decisions…….

      • Neiman

        God commanded we take off one day in seven, for the Jews on the Sabbath, to worship Him; but, it wasn’t because He has an ego that must be stroked so through worship that He will have a better self-image, no like all His laws they were designed for our benefit, physical, moral, spiritual. To rest from our labors and shopping is labor, is to give us time as we do sleeping at night, for a time of rest and restoration, to tend to those more important things like our souls (to focus on the Lord as our every present help) and our family, very important things that get set aside during the work week. We only hurt ourselves, when we ignore His Wise advice.

        • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

          Old Pal, you comment here most Sabbaths and Sundays, Lord knows that’s laboring, why do you hate the Lord and disrespect His worship law?

          • Neiman

            You know nothing at all of the Christian faith, you have rejected Christ.

            Now tell us the name of your god and how you that claims he is going to Heaven gets there with being a Christian, having Jesus as your Savior.

            Don’t wait boys and girls, Gay Bob avoids this question like the plague, not wanting you to know his true religion. We do know that he has admitted he is no Christian, so he knows nothing of the Christian faith.

          • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

            He likes us to call Him God.
            If you don’t know why you blog, just say so, Old Pal.

          • Neiman

            See that is the vile deceptive demon spirit that controls you.

            a. It cannot be the Almighty God of the Bible, because He goes by many names to express His meaning to our lives.

            b. It cannot be the Almighty God of the Bible, because “God” is an English word, not used in the Bible except English translations and He never asks to be called by that name in Holy Scripture.

            c. It cannot be the Almighty God of the Bible, because you have admitted you are not a Christian. So what religion claims your god?

            d. If I am wrong show me from the Holy Bible or from your non-Christian bible. If you do not, you are serving the deceptive demon that controls you. It is grossly dishonest not to prove your contention by identifying your god.

            Se what I told you friends, Gay Bob is a liar, a deceiver and I told you he would never answer the question, he is a coward because he knows when he identifies his false god, he will lose souls he is trying to lie into hell.

          • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

            There is but one God, Old Pal. Why do you believe there are others?
            Maybe you could ask your neighbors why you blog.

          • Neiman

            I Corinthians 8:5 “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), So the Holy Spirit through Paul spoke of many gods, albeit they are all false gods, as is the one you mention and serve.

            You cannot be talking about the Almighty God of the Bible saying He only wants to be called God, as by His Holy Spirit He is known by many Names:

            ELOHIM……Genesis 1:1, Psalm 19:1
            meaning “God”, a reference to God’s power and might.
            ADONAI……Malachi 1:6
            meaning “Lord”, a reference to the Lordship of God.
            JEHOVAH–YAHWEH…..Genesis 2:4
            a reference to God’s divine salvation.
            Just to name a few of His Names.

            You cannot be talking about the God of the Holy Bible because you rejected Him when you rejected His Son as your Savior and Lord. You spat upon the Holy Son of God when you refused His Salvation. Unless, you are a Jew, are you a Jew?

            You cannot be talking about the God of the Bible as you reject His Commandment “Thou shalt not kill (do murder)” in your support of the 50 million babies your party members have killed with you as an accessory in the first degree. Plus, you reject His clear condemnation of homosexuality and lie about homosexuality not being a sin.

            So, by every measure you have rejected the Judeo-Christian God, thus you need to identify by name the God you think you serve, unless you are, as I absolutely know you to be, a deceiver and are trying to avoid detection so you may lie others souls into hell.

          • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

            There is only one God, Old Pal. Too bad you are a stranger to Him.

            Let me know when someone tells you why you blog.

          • Neiman

            You are a liar, we are not pals, so you start with a most damnable lie and I do not want to know your false god.

            Jesus is very God, the Son of God, One with the Father and Spirit in Nature and you refuse to confess Jesus, only some vague unnamed god of your own making.

            If the passages and names below are not His Name, then show me from your god’s book why they are not Almighty God’s Name and where He claims only the Generic English Name of God applies to him or be known to one and all as a deceiver and a child of hell for your lies.

            ELOHIM……Genesis 1:1, Psalm 19:1
            meaning “God”, a reference to God’s power and might.
            ADONAI……Malachi 1:6
            meaning “Lord”, a reference to the Lordship of God.
            JEHOVAH–YAHWEH…..Genesis 2:4
            a reference to God’s divine salvation.
            Just to name a few of His Names.

            You cannot be talking about the God of the Holy Bible because you
            rejected Him when you rejected His Son as your Savior and Lord. You spat upon the Holy Son of God when you refused His Salvation. Unless, you are a Jew, are you a Jew?

            You cannot be talking about the God of the Bible as you reject His
            Commandment “Thou shalt not kill (do murder)” in your support of the 50 million babies your party members have killed with you as an accessory in the first degree. Plus, you reject His clear condemnation of homosexuality and lie about homosexuality not being a sin.

            So, by every measure you have rejected the Judeo-Christian God, thus you need to identify by name the God you think you serve, unless you are, as I absolutely know you to be, a deceiver and are trying to avoid detection so you may lie others souls into hell.

            Show me where I am wrong deceiver, only a child keeps repeating the same thing over and over. Why can’t you speak as a man, why do you try and deceive others about your god that demands you use the generic English name for god.

            You are a game player, you are filed with demons and cannot defend your lies.

          • Lynn Bergman

            You two are quite the nutcases. Your egos are infinite. You just go on and on and on and…

          • Neiman

            When you are unaware of the history of our conflicts and seeming perhaps not to be a Christian yourself, you are quick to judge something about which you are woefully ignorant.

            This Gay Bob does a lot of spiritual damage and I stand up to his lies, often for far too long, because I hope he will awaken to his need for Christ and I always regret not cutting it off sooner; but, I have that distant hope that as flawed a messenger as I am, God might speak to his fallen heart through me that he might be saved. It is my error, not Gay Bob’s, I should stop after 2 or three exchanges, but I am an optimist and always hope I will find the right words to turn him around.

          • Matthew Hawkins

            Nieman, why do you get to determine who is Christian?

            Remember, hubris is a sin.

          • Neiman

            In the case of Gay Bob – he admitted long ago he was not a Christian. Isn’t that sufficient to say he is not? In his and other cases, I point out their consistent words, beliefs and actions are opposed to God’s Word and contrary to what God in His Word says is necessary for Salvation. So, if I say I am a Democrat and oppose all the core beliefs of the Democrat Party, you can confidently say that I cannot possibly really be a Democrat and not believe what is essential to being a Democrat.

            When people are for the mass slaughter of helpless, innocent babies (abortion), contrary to God’s command of “Thou shalt not kill (do murder),” and support homosexuality as being normal and supportive of gay marriage, all contrary to God’s Word; and, when they support the idea of separation of Church and State, wherein Nature’s God is denied a place in our nation, then all these things and much more, add up to solid evidence that while they say they are Christians, their words/actions say that confession is a lie. Isn’t that a reasonable assertion?

            Now one can never be sure, as we cannot read one’s heart or know if they have a real faith in Jesus that is being masked, but by challenging their salvation based on God’s Word versus their words/actions, at the least it should cause the real Christian to question how they can assert belief but not act according to that belief. As another calls it, they say they are Christian, while being practical atheists. I want them to face that gross inconsistency as I must daily question my own and seek God’s help for corrective action.

          • Neiman

            Unless you confess Jesus as your only Savior and absolute Lord, you are outside the faith and not capable of saying what or what is not a sin, as you have not His Spirit.

        • Matthew Hawkins

          Can I take Tuesday off and work and shop on Sundays, or was God more specific on the day off?

          • Neiman

            Under the Law of Grace there is no Law so to speak, it is all a gift of God; but, the wise man looks at God’s Commandments and sees therein only and always things that are designed by a loving God for his good. So, we Christians serve every day as a like unto the Lord and while we choose Sunday’s for corporate worship, the important thing is to try and set aside one day each week for rest, restoration, family and by spending some time with Him, refresh our spirit as well.

            When we fail to follow such divine wisdom, it is to our detriment, but for the Christian it is not a sin nor endangers their salvation, just not too smart.

  • Tim Heise

    The people must choose for themselves who they will serve!

  • RCND

    If people don’t like stores being opened on Christmas and Thanksgiving, then don’t shop then. That is the only way the trend will be reversed. Making people make your preferred choice by removing a choice is not gonna work ever. If they want to do it they will find a way. In this case, all people will do is shop online more those days because online retailers will simply rush to fill that void in the market.

  • WOOF

    Employees of conscience, take the day off,

    specially pharmacists.

  • badlands4

    On a personal note I would like to see stores closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas because I do think it is morally and mentally “healthier” for lack of a better word to have that time with your family, but the stores are open because people demand they be open and unless people decide to change that trend you will see stores continue to do this and most likely be open Christmas day(if they are not now) as early as next year. There will also always be employees who will want to work because they need the money or want the holiday pay(if that is offered) or don’t have family to spend time with. You would think retailers would re-think Black Friday for their own self preservation. How many lawsuits and headaches with crime must they go through each year?

    I don’t get the whole Black Friday thing. It is insane and it has been proven that you don’t actually get the best pre-Christmas deals. It is like people become rabid on Black Friday. You read the headlines about people that beat the crap out of others over towels and cell phones, shoot someone over a parking space, threaten to stab people in line and literally break through the doors to gorge on “stuff”.

    We were in Minot today and while the mall was crowded and lines were long, no one was foaming at the mouth or pushing old ladies to the ground so they could grab whatever was on sale ;). People were patient and it wasn’t an unpleasant experience. The longest line I actually stood in was at Hobby Lobby and Hobby Lobby doesn’t tend to attract the camping out for a sale, shooting people in the parking lot crowd. I guess yarn isn’t as foam worthy as a big screen ;)

  • Snarkie

    Thanksgiving is sacred? What is this guy, a pagan?

  • Waski_the_Squirrel

    I don’t shop on Sundays or holidays. Why? I choose not to. It is my belief that Hell is a place with no rest. So, I sacrifice to get rest.

    Unfortunately, many people do not see it this way. Many people happily shop on a holiday, on a Sunday, or at any time. It doesn’t matter that the store employee is being taken advantage of thanks to poverty.

    And here is the thing: I used to work on Sunday. I had no choice. Now that I make more money, I have a choice. (And certain jobs are exceptions to this: I don’t want ambulance workers to take the day off.) The real problem is not the businesses. It is the customers that would shop there. Too many people will not make the choices I have made. and will shop on a Sunday or a holiday.

    The businesses reflect the society, not the reverse. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if being closed on Sunday and holidays were a good thing?

  • Stuart

    As I see it we are putting a lot of issues into a clump making it a mute discussion! Perhaps we should take one issue at at time.
    A. Property Rights afforded through the Constitution of the United States of America.

    B. Government protection of Religious rights in Employment. Meaning the if Muslims can take off for Rhamadan and not be fired..so should other faiths even Atheism. That is the conviction issue. This religious card of Rhamadan is already being played in Fargo as well as other cities in America. Equal rights is that specific issue.

    C.If one uses the premise..”don’t go there if you don’t want businesses to open on Saturday or Sunday” then follow through with that premise in all businesses property rights. Bars being open longer and smokers rights!
    D.then last but not least is the health of society both physically and spiritual (aka) moral state with traditional family considerations.

    E. Ties into D with choice of going where you feel comfortable and you are treated equally when it comes to your individual habits or cultural customs. Now the price or cost of Insurace should also be an issue if you smoke or drink. This would keep property rights constitutionally intact.

  • Stuart

    If we put Grace in Religion as part of the pontificating,then should we consider Christ’s
    statement, ” I have not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. “For not one jot nor tiddle shall be elimated in that concern” (paraphrased).What say you?

    More than meets the when it comes to edification?

  • True Patriot

    Scooter you are funny, as you are a bankrupt businessman, an under-educated adult who only parrots the Republican talking points. Why would anyone listen to you? When your Ponzi scheme catches up to you will your wife stand by your side?

  • VocalYokel

    The genie is out of the bottle on this one.

    Those of us who prefer not to participate will continue our practices, while the quest for the almighty ducat will drive retailers and shoppers to the point of absurdity…or possibly epiphany.

    This reminds me of the ‘Bar Wars’ some years ago in Fargo, where one establishment reached the point of offering a ‘4 for 1 Happy Hour’…as I recall, the City brought it to a screeching halt citing concerns over motor vehicle operation by the participants.