State legislators are working on eliminating the ban on Sunday sales of motorcycles, a prospect that has some area vendors weighing the loss of their one day off against economic survival.
Selling motor vehicles of any kind, including automobiles and motorcycles, on a Sunday is considered a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey. On June 28, the Senate voted 38-2 to exempt motorcycle sales from the ban. The proposal would not change the ban on Sunday automobile sales.
The bill is pending in the Assembly, where it could see action in September.
The proposal could benefit consumers such as Mike Boddy, of Galloway Township. Boddy has to browse for Harley Davidson Super Glides whenever he can get off work early, rather than on Sundays. Having lived in the South, Boddy said he's accustomed to Sunday "blue laws," but this particular one is a nuisance.
"That's, like, the only day I get off," said Boddy, 49, who does construction work. He shopped last Monday afternoon at Atlantic County Harley Davidson in Galloway, at the northeast corner of the White Horse Pike and the Garden State Parkway.
Boddy had a motorcycle for five years, and he rides his friend's occasionally, but he is eager to have a bike of his own again. His 50th birthday is in August.
An industry spokesman said dealers need the boost an extra day of sales would bring.
"Motorcycle sales across the United States have plummeted," said Gaylen Brotherson, chief officer of the National Motorcycle Dealers Association.
Asked for his reaction to the New Jersey bill, Brotherson replied, "It's a mixed bag, in that most people are open on Saturdays and they want to have a couple days off. But the way the economy is, the dealers need to be open every day of the week to make it. A lot of people aren't open on Sunday that could be."
Motorcycle rentals could get a boost, too, if shops were available to both let out bikes on Fridays and receive them back on Sundays, the most popular time frame for rentals, Brotherson said.
Atlantic County Harley sales manager Dean Petrovic said he hadn't been tracking the Sunday-sales legislation.
"I'm sure it's going to be beneficial to everybody. But as far as my weekend is concerned, it's a lot more hours," Petrovic said. Sunday typically is his only day off.
Petrovic said the Galloway store has "actually been doing really well" in recent years. That apparently puts it in the minority industry wide.
Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, said he cosponsored the bill at the request of a motorcycle dealer in his district. The dealer was tired of having potential customers cross the Delaware River to buy bikes on Sundays in Delaware.
Motorcycling is a weekend hobby, Norcross said, and "if you take half the weekend away ... those who want to buy one are going to go do it elsewhere."
The bill's potential economic impact is uncertain, said the senator, who said he did not want to spend money on a cost-benefit analysis.
"If one motorcycle comes to New Jersey that would have gone elsewhere, that's good for New Jersey," Norcross said. "That means they're going to create a relationship with that dealer."
Norcross said dealerships he spoke with support the bill.
Car dealers would not be exempted from the Sunday sales ban. Nor would Sal Morrongiello of Manahawkin Chrysler Dodge want them to be.
"I think people are used to it. And if everybody's closed, everybody's treated fairly," said Morrongiello, a manager. "Everybody needs a little rest once in a while. I'm happy with the system the way it's in place right now."
John Williams, owner of Fairway Cycles in Somers Point, said he doesn't think allowing him to sell motorcycles on Sundays would be much help in tough economic times. Most people coming into the shop don't have stellar credit and have trouble qualifying for a loan.
"The average person just doesn't have the cash to buy a $10,000 bike," Williams said.
If he is allowed to open on Sundays, Williams said he isn't sure he would take advantage of the opportunity. If other dealers in the county opened on Sundays, he might have a limited schedule for sales and parts, but the service department would remain closed, he said.
Shops that sell accessories and used motorcycles, but not new vehicles, would have less to gain from opening Sunday, said George Trapani, who owns Trapani Racing in Ocean Township and has sold motorcycles on consignment since 1979. He wouldn't open on Sunday even if he could.
"I go to church, I go ride. Church and family comes first. I gotta have one day off," Trapani said.
In Tuckerton, Raymond Bobo of R&D Motor Sports took a different view.
"The way the economy is now, why would they want to stop you from making money when you could possibly reel in a sale?" said Bobo, who sells used motorcycles and those he assembles himself - usually a handful each year. "I think it's good to have it on Sunday, if I could make a sale on Sunday and I didn't make one on Friday."
Staff writer Elaine Rose contributed to this report.
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