When locals leave church on Sunday mornings, some will head for brunch at their favorite restaurant. Others will eat at home, stop by the pharmacy or hit the mall.
But one thing they won't do is buy a car.
A 56-year-old Michigan blue law forbids Sunday car sales in counties with more than 130,000 people; it's one of 13 states that prohibit auto sales on Sundays.
Does it make sense now, amid an automotive depression, to darken dealerships on a day when potential buyers are free? Should dealers be forced to stay closed when sales are so badly needed?
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“Growing up here, from the religious side, it's tough,” said Dan DeVos, who owns DP Fox and its 17 dealerships around the state. “When I was young, nothing was open. But lifestyles and things have changed so much since then.
“It would be logical, for so many reasons, for the law to be lifted.”
Although the Cash for Clunkers program bumped up car sales recently, the industry is setting its sights low for 2009. Car sales are on pace to require just 9.5 million vehicles this year; that's 40 percent below the 16 million built just a few years ago.
There are also fewer new-car dealers. In their quick-rinse bankruptcies this spring, both Chrysler and GM cast off dealerships and brands.
More than 700 new car dealers in the state are represented by Michigan's Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group that supports the never-on-Sunday blue law.
The 1953 law affects the state's larger counties, but for 400 dealers in smaller counties, the Sunday option still holds little allure, he said.
“It's a combination of morale, employee structure, ability to develop relationships with customers. It's also the inability to finance the deal,” Burns said.