It's the time of year that retailers are gearing up for the holiday shopping with their Black Friday sales with many of them opening on Thanksgiving day. You've probably seen the flyers and ads saying some national stores will be open on Thanksgiving day to kick off their sales, but you should know that's probably not the case 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 that force retailers to close on Sundays and holidays. Ever try 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 Sunday 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
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • KMart
  • The Maine Mall
  • Auburn Mall
  • Home Depot
  • Lowe's
  • Kohl's

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

  • Walgreens
  • Rite Aid
  • Cinemagic and other movie theaters
  • Dunkin' Donuts
  • Many Chain Restaurants (Applebee's etc)
  • Some Local Restaurants
  • Most Convenience Stores
  • L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean is more than 5000 square feet in size, but they are the only exception in Maine 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 or not.