November 27, 2013

Christmas creep held at bay in Maine, other New England states

Several New England states, including Maine, prohibit stores from opening until Friday.

By Michelle R. Smith
The Associated Press

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Shoppers ride escalators in a mall in Cambridge, Mass., Tuesday. People in many states crowd malls on Thanksgiving day, but laws in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine prevent stores from opening until Friday. A violation in Maine is punishable by up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine.

The Associated Press

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Maine allows certain sporting goods stores to remain open, an exemption that allows Freeport-based outdoor retailer L.L. Bean to operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Spokeswoman Carolyn Beem said workers sign up for shifts on a volunteer basis and get paid extra for working the holiday. She said they generally have more volunteers than shifts on what she calls a generally slower business day.

But along the New Hampshire border, the Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, Maine, will remain closed, even though it could operate under the same exemption, said vice president Fox Keim. He said giving employees the day off is part of the store’s “core values.”

“What’s more important to us is keeping our staff happy and keeping morale at the company at a high level,” he said.

Diane Mareira, who has worked for BJ’s Wholesale Club for 29 years and now manages its store in Northborough, Mass., said she remembers the days when people spent Sundays home with their families, but said that has all changed. BJ’s, which operates stores in 15 states, won’t open until Friday, even in states that allow it.

“You have both parents working in the household. There’s very few days that you can set aside and dedicate to your families,” Mareira said. “Those are days that we should be home.”

Mareira said she’s planning to do just that on Thursday. She’ll have her extended family over to cook, eat and enjoy the day with each other.

Associated Press writer Alanna Durkin in Augusta, Maine, contributed to this report.

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