Oregon's struggling auto dealers plan to ask the Legislature to impose "blue laws" prohibiting car sales on Sunday.
GLADSTONE — Oregon's struggling auto dealers plan to ask the Legislature to impose "blue laws" prohibiting car sales on Sunday.
The day off would help them cut costs during an economic downturn that has already put 19 Oregon dealerships out of business this year. Nationally, sales of domestic cars declined more than 35 percent in 2008.
Greg Remensperger, executive vice president of the Oregon Automobile Dealers Association, told The Oregonian newspaper his members strongly favor the measure.
"No question, there's some troubled times out there," Remensperger said.
It's unclear if legislators will take to the idea. The plan wouldn't cost the state anything, but lawmakers already have a full plate when their session starts next month. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Dave Hunt, D-Gladstone, said he hadn't heard of the proposal and didn't know enough about it to comment.
Eleven other states have a similar prohibition on Sunday auto sales.
Among the dealerships to close in recent months is the Gary Worth dealership in Gladstone. After 49 years, it ceased operations Oct. 31.
"It was very difficult," said Mike McManus, whose father and grandfather co-founded the dealership. "It just got to the point it wasn't fun anymore."
In Medford, Lithia Motors, which operates 98 stores in a number of different states, has slashed its payroll by 1,000 people, through the sales of a number of dealerships and downsizing.
"I've been through six recessions and this is as bad as any of them," said Sid DeBoer, Lithia chairman and chief executive.
If lawmakers don't approve the restriction on Sunday sales, Oregon dealers could opt for a voluntary pact among themselves. Dealers, however, figure a state law is needed to ensure that nobody takes advantage of the others' closure.
Information from: The Oregonian, http:www.oregonlive.com