Thanksgiving is traditionally the day that the Christmas shopping season gets underway with Black Friday sales. In most parts of the country, it starts on Thanksgiving Day, but not here in Maine. Thanksgiving is one of the three holidays in Maine that it's actually against the law for certain retailers to be open on. But why?

Maine is one of several states, mostly in New England, that still has blue laws forcing certain retailers to close on Sundays and holidays. Ever tried to buy a car on a Sunday in Maine? Thanks to a blue law, you can't.

These laws were put in place long ago to prevent activities on Sundays and holidays, typically for religious reasons. Up until the late '80s, you couldn't shop at any store 5000 square feet in size or larger on a Sunday.

One remnant of that law still remains in place today in Maine for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Maine State Title 17, §3204(2)(HH) regarding religious assemblies, Holy days, and Sundays reads:

In no event, however, may any store having more than 5,000 square feet of interior customer selling space be open on Easter Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day

That law forces retailers like these to be closed on Thanksgiving:

  • Hannaford
  • Shaw's
  • Market Basket
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • The Maine Mall
  • Home Depot
  • Lowe's
  • Kohl's

So, we're mostly talking about grocery stores and big box stores that are closed on Thanksgiving. Here are some places that will be open.

  • Most Walgreens 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Most Dunkin's
  • Some chain restaurants
  • Some local Restaurants
  • Some movie theaters
  • Most convenience stores
  • L.L. Bean Flagship Store

L.L.Bean is more than 5000 square feet in size, but they are the only exception in Maine when it comes to the blue law.

This list by no means applies to all locations for a business, and there are plenty we haven't listed here, so it's always best to call ahead to find out if a particular retailer is open.

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