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Bergen Resident Seeks to Repeal Blue Laws

Rosemary Shashoua has started the group "Modernize Bergen County" to allow stores to open on Sundays.

One Westwood resident is fed up with Bergen County's "blue laws" and is working to have the "old fashioned" rules appealed.

"All I want is more revenue for the state and more jobs," Rosemary Shashoua said.

Shashoua has found some like-minded county residents and started a new group called "Modernize Bergen County" with the goal of repealing the blue laws, the rules which prohibit the sale of items like clothing, furniture and appliances on Sundays.

Shashoua said she was inspired to start the group after Hurricane Sandy, when Gov. Chris Christie temporarily suspended county blue laws to aid recovery from the storm.

"Nobody had any clothing and nobody had anything to fix up their houses," Shashoua said, referring to residents displaced by the storm. "They weren't there to open up the jewelry store."

Repealing the laws could also have benefits beyond times immediately after storms, Shashoua said. Having stores open an extra day could create additonal jobs and bring in more money from shoppers.

Not everyone agrees. When the governor temporarily suspended the laws after the storm, Paramus officials objected to the change, taking the decision to court.

"The Blue Laws are absolutely essential to keeping Paramus livable and I will never stop fighting to make sure they are always here to protect our quality of life," Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said after a judge upheld the suspension.

Still, Shashoua is confident others will side with her. She and Modernize Bergen County plan to obtain 10,000 signatures for a petition to get a referendum on the ballot either this year or next year, and have already been in contact with some county malls, officials and chambers of commerce about the plan.

Bergen County has a long tradition with blue laws. The current law originated in the 1950s after the Garden State Plaza was built and became a popular destination for shoppers. The blue laws have been challenged twice: once in 1980 and again in 1993. The plans to repeal the laws were defeated 192,394 to 157,648 in 1980 and 185,821 to 105,040 in 1993.

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Jeffrey Ware January 15, 2013 at 08:25 PM
Not true. Many of the Paramus stores are their chains' best performing locations. Blue laws don't have much effect on revenue, just make for very busy Saturdays. But repeal of blue laws would adversely effect retail workers.
Joanna Hafner January 15, 2013 at 09:07 PM
I think it's time to end the blue law many towns want it ended and those who don't need to get with the times.
Sharla DeLawter January 15, 2013 at 11:32 PM
I work retail in Bergen County and am thankful for the blue law so I don't have to work on Sundays. It's also wonderful to be able to travel within the County without the shopping traffic. We are surrounded by counties where there is ample shopping for those of you who must get your shopping fix. I say KEEP THE BLUE LAW.
Art Vatsky January 16, 2013 at 03:04 AM
Except for the color of a license plate, one can't tell where a car is coming from and there is no way to tell if someone is just passing thru Bergen County or visit a friend or relative. Perhaps the heavy traffic on Saturday is because Sunday non-Bergen resident shoppers have to come on Saturday. If the stores were open on Sundays perhaps traffic would flow well on both days. Employees who now work 5 days can work six to get extra income. Those who are required to work Sundays get a midweek day off. That can be nice. It works out all over NJ and all over the country. Finally, be careful who you call "traffic". It is a very subjective term. From your car, my (small) car looks like traffic but from my car your SUV is the traffic.
EMK January 16, 2013 at 03:57 AM
I would certainly sign such a petition. Half the reason Teaneck's Cedar Lane is dying is because stores can't stay open on Sunday in a town that doesn't do much business on Saturday because of the local populace. I shopped on the Sunday the stores were open after Sandy and the world didn't end and traffic was not a nightmare. The county loses a ridiclous amount of revenue to other places on Sunday--why should workers who can only shop on weekends because of their jobs be forced to travel to get what they need?
Tom Abbott January 16, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Though I wish her luck, a referendum will probably fail. 20 years ago only 36% voted for the referendum. The population of Bergen County has not changed enough in 20 years to expect a referendum to succeed. A more likely path to success would be a legislative change to allow referendum's by town rather than by county. Unfortunately this idea has also always met significant opposition in the state legislature.
Edge January 16, 2013 at 05:05 PM
The County Blue Law restrictions are discriminatory, counter-productive to economic and community livlihood, and represents governmental regulation at its most absurd. Residents of the County must not permit Paramus, with its obsolete and unsustainable commercial sprawl to continue to dictate regional policy, much like the tail that wags the dog. We must work for the complete abolition of these restrictions, to strengthen and revitalize communities with traditional downtowns like Teaneck, Hackensack, and Englewood.
mimi January 16, 2013 at 05:13 PM
Let Paramus have its Blue Laws and allow the other towns of Bergen County to repeal them.
John Santaella January 16, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Are essentials only available on Sunday in other counties? Whatever happened to Monday-Saturday?
Tee Smyth January 16, 2013 at 06:29 PM
Nope. I'm not signing anything, and I will vote against any politician who supports such. I live in Teaneck, and like the law as it stands. If the Blue Law changed tomorrow, Cedar Lane would still have today's issue: Not a lot of people want to go there! Be it Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, or Sunday. I have no restriction on when I can shop, but I avoid Cedar Lane like the plague. But, this issue has been debated ad nauseam on this very site. I shall not rehash.
Susan F January 16, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Where do people sign?
DMAB6395 January 16, 2013 at 09:44 PM
My husband & I are two people who will not sign. My husband's in retail and it's nice to know that he will be home with our family every Sunday instead of going to work. Like someone else said you have 6 other days of the week to go out to the store and get what you need. It was different after Hurricane Sandy but even then you had retailers who couldn't get to their stores or they had no power. KEEP THE BLUE LAWS-if you don't like the blue law then go somewhere else on Sunday to shop. My husband & I are two people who will not sign. My husband's in retail and it's nice to know that he will be home with our family every Sunday instead of going to work. Like someone else said you have 6 other days of the week to go out to the store and get what you need. It was different after Hurricane Sandy but even then you had retailers who couldn't get to their stores or they had no power. KEEP THE BLUE LAWS-if you don't like the blue law then go somewhere else on Sunday to shop.
Shiny January 16, 2013 at 11:40 PM
how do we sign in ..
Noah Cohen January 17, 2013 at 12:51 AM
Rosemary Shashoua tells our Westwood editor that there's no petition online, but anyone interested should email her at rozette@yahoo.com.
JAD January 17, 2013 at 01:00 AM
I have no issue with repealing the blue laws. They are antiquated and no longer serve the purpose of their original intent. If it can't be done county wide due to Paramus larger voting pool than let each town decide. Paramus can choose to keep their blue law if that works best for them. For those saying you have 6 other days in a week to shop, you have 6 other days in the week to utilize as your day off from work.
Jacob January 17, 2013 at 06:28 PM
Some interesting media coverage on this topic -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xk6yNY4cHAA
Beth Rosenberg January 23, 2013 at 02:57 AM
As an Orthodox Jew living in Teaneck; I fully support the blue laws, and they are the main reason I looked forward to move to Bergen County from New York. It's an important day because I could drive to my local synagogue, and grocery stores without being stuck on congested roads. There are plenty of time and hours to shop rest of the week. Nobody is in need of shopping on Sundays. If anyone is really in need, Wayne and Paterson is only 15 min away. I have friends from Paterson who come and work in Bergen County because they get Sundays off. I feel bad for them, because they need the day off to spend with their family. Even here in Teaneck, Sunday is a day many of us love because we know there's no traffic and noise.
Beth Rosenberg January 23, 2013 at 02:58 AM
No thank you. We need the blue laws!
Beth Rosenberg January 23, 2013 at 02:58 AM
Exactly... Keep the blue laws!
Beth Rosenberg January 23, 2013 at 02:59 AM
No, Teaneck needs them too, and other towns.
Beth Rosenberg January 23, 2013 at 02:59 AM
No, stop treating retail workers like slaves. Everybody needs a day of rest!
Beth Rosenberg January 23, 2013 at 03:00 AM
No, we need the blue laws in the whole county!
Beth Rosenberg January 23, 2013 at 03:00 AM
Bergen County towns make more money in annual retail in 6 days than any other place open for 7 days. Stop with your idiotic exuses and let people enjoy their day off.
Beth Rosenberg January 23, 2013 at 03:01 AM
Enjoy your day off and we support the blue laws
Beth Rosenberg January 23, 2013 at 03:01 AM
No it's not time. Respect retail employees and enjoy your day of rest
Reverend Joseph A. Ianiro, Jr. DD January 23, 2013 at 05:35 AM
The Blue Laws are VERRY confusing. BJ's jewelry counter is open on sunday. Shop-rite sells socks and underwear. Perhaps the rest of the week would not be so busy if the shopping was spread out over 7 days rather than 6. Perhaps residents should think of the traffic before they allow yet another mall in Paramus. NONETHELESS, blue laws dont make sense especially when parts of an open store are roped off. Paramus may even get sued by a store that is not permitted to open that sells the same thing that a store that is permitted to open. Crazy crazy application of an antiquated law.
Beth Rosenberg February 02, 2013 at 03:07 AM
Blue laws will never be repealed
Beth Rosenberg February 02, 2013 at 03:11 AM
BJ do not sell jewelry. Jewelry stores want to be closes by choice anyway
Frank LeRose June 04, 2013 at 01:51 PM
Jeff..Good point. When I worked retail in Bergen County I loved knowing I had Sunday off for my family. Just remember...the Paramus Blue Laws are not in danger...only the Bergen County Blue Laws.
Keith Kaplan June 04, 2013 at 01:54 PM
Repealing the blue laws does not mean that any store will have to be open on Sunday. No one is talking about a law requiring stores to be open on Sunday. This is a red herring.

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