Why Are All Wisconsin Car Dealers Closed Sundays?

Every car and motorcycle dealership in Wisconsin is closed on Sundays. In fact, it’s against the law to sell a car or motorcycle that day of the week.

WISC-TV looked into the reason why.

The Rev. Jerry Olson from Christ Lutheran Church in DeForest explained how “blue laws” play a role. Blue laws are decades-old state statutes that restrict business activities on Sundays to preserve the religious nature of the day.

The laws can vary across the nation — Wisconsin’s law says a dealer’s license could be at stake if they keep their place of business open on Sunday for the purpose of buying, leasing or selling a motor vehicle.

Back in the day, blue laws forced a majority of businesses to close on Sundays. Most of them — except the car sales law — have since been repealed.

AJ Stark from Stark Automotive in Sun Prairie said that regardless of being closed, Sunday is their busiest day.

“A lot of people, they want to go out and look and they don’t want to be bothered,” Stark said.

It’s also a day dealers don’t have to worry about competition — because of the law. So Stark said he’s happy he’s able to give a break to his hardworking employees.

“Overall, I think it’s a good thing,” Stark said.

Olson said God probably wouldn’t mind.

“I took a poll of the church basement ladies and they said — and I think I agree with them — God probably doesn’t care what you sell on Sunday,” Olson said. “But he does care that you keep Sabbath.”

Wisconsin is not alone — several other states have this blue law on their books. Even Minnesota has a blue law, prohibiting any alcohol sales on Sunday.

The term “blue law,” by the way, comes from how the word “blue” was used in the 18th century. The word “blue” was a disparaging or slang reference to strict moral codes or rules.