County Wants To Start Sunday Auto Sales

SNOW HILL – Motorcycle enthusiasts may be able to buy their ride of choice on Sundays in Worcester County if Maryland legislators pursue a request from the Worcester County Commissioners to exempt the county from an obsolete “blue law” still on the books.

“We’re open Sundays. The retail and service side is open,” said Harley-Davidson of Ocean City General Manager Benet McCormick in a telephone interview.  “We have a pretty good amount of customers that come in and want to know about the sale of motorcycles.”

The discussion of the prohibition of auto sales on Sundays was prompted by a request from McCormick to do something about the law.

Sunday sales of motorcycles and automobiles are still illegal across most of Maryland, with only Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties exempt currently.

The law reads, “Except in Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties, a new or used car dealer may not sell, barter, deliver, give away, show, or offer for sale a motor vehicle or certificate of title for a motor vehicle on Sunday.”

“This goes back to the old days of blue laws. I guess that goes back to the ‘30s,” said Worcester County Chief Administrator Gerry Mason. “As time goes by, they have been whittled away.”

The Ocean City Harley-Davidson shop loses business because it cannot sell motorcycles on Sundays, a prime selling day for any retail establishment in a resort area, McCormick said.

The dealership has posted a message about the “no sales on Sunday” law on the motorcycle windshields, but customers still ask.

“Customers can get really nasty with the staff here because they won’t help ‘em with the sales of the motorcycles,” McCormick said.

Staff is permitted to discuss everything about a motorcycle sale on Sunday but the financial details.

“With this law, we’re not even allowed to discuss a price. We can’t discuss any of that,” said McCormick.

Worcester County Commission President Virgil Shockley suggested putting the matter on the county ballot during the fall election, but county attorney Sonny Bloxom discouraged the move.

Mason suggested that the commissioners send a letter to local state legislators and ask them to support Worcester County’s exemption from the state regulation.

He also urged the commissioners to consider asking for mobile home and trailer dealers to be included in the exemption allowing Sunday sales.

“If you can buy a can of beer, why can’t you buy a car?” said Commissioner Louise Gulyas, making a motion to ask for the legal change.

“I agree. I don’t have problems with selling those things on Sundays,” said Commissioner Judy Boggs.

The commissioners supported the motion to ask local state legislators to pursue an exemption to the law unanimously.

“I believe it’s just one of those things, that nobody’s asked for it to be changed,” said McCormick. “It’s a little bit of a hardship on us not to be able to sell them. It’s a little bit silly. I don’t see where it harms anything.”

Not only does the Harley-Davidson dealership lose business and money, but Worcester County and the state of Maryland lose out on tax revenue, McCormick said.

The dealership is doing well, McCormick said, with sales during the first quarter of the year down, but a much busier May and June.

Asking for a change in the law has been on her mind for the past few years, McCormick said, but it was not until the last six months that she thought about making a formal request, sitting down in late June to write a letter to the County Commissioners inquiring about getting the county exempted from the Maryland law.

“It’s not going to hurt to ask,” McCormick said.