Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory owners Harry and Mary
Schaff purposefully close their downtown Delafield shop
Jennifer Rude Klett/Conley
DELAFIELD — Despite our hyper-commercialized world,
there are some thriving retailers bucking the trend to
remain open no matter the time or day, specifically
These retail rebels stand in stark contrast to most
stores held hostage to the seemingly never-ending
shopping mentality — every day, extended hours and
holidays — incessantly laboring to make a buck.
.... what would George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”
say about our “Pottersville” commercialism? Or Charlie
Brown, for that matter?
course, the principled entrepreneurs who do rest from
the daily grind desire to be successful. But they also
seek balance for themselves and their employees. Taking
a breather speaks to the limits in life and the
religious concept of the Sabbath, despite immense
cultural and economic pressures to work constantly.
have taken flak from customers for standing by their
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, 807 Genesee St.,
Delafield, the hustle stops every Sunday. It is also
closed on major holidays, and from noon to 3 p.m. on
“Sundays are a day of worship and rest, just the way it
was intended to be,” said Harry Schaff, who owns the
confectionery with his wife, Mary.
Schaff said the decision has had a “negative financial
impact, but spiritually, mentally and emotionally it’s
While they receive supportive comments from customers,
the complaints often outnumber the praise, especially
when they close for three hours on Good Friday, the
start of Easter weekend for Christians and a busy
“Unfortunately, they are missing out on what really
matters in life and it just seems to be getting worse
all the time,” he said.
of Wisconsin’s Sabbath laws, also called blue or Sunday
laws, diminished after a state advisory referendum
passed on such statutes in 1932. Blue laws require
stores to be closed on Sundays to protect it as a day of
forms of blue laws still exist. For example, Wisconsin
car dealers still cannot open on Sundays. In next-door
Minnesota, alcohol cannot be purchased on Sundays.
Observing the Sabbath
Judeo-Christian concept of the Sabbath comes from the
Old Testament. In the Ten Commandments, the fourth
commandment reads in part, “Observe the Sabbath day by
keeping it holy. ... Six days you shall labor and do all
your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord
your God,” (New International Version Holy Bible).
commandment elevated human beings from being slaves or
beasts of burden.
Book of Genesis also describes God creating the world in
six days and resting on the seventh day, blessing it and
making it holy.
“Judaism teaches us to take this time to be with family,
to study Torah and go to services to pray, to have a
special meal together and to take time out from the rat
race of our working lives, so that we may refresh
ourselves and be ready to start over gain with a clear
mind and spiritual body,” said Cantor Deborah Martin
from Congregation Emanu-El in Waukesha.
only do we do this for ourselves, but we also do this
for our animals, who are not allowed to work either.
Animals needs to rest from their labor, just as we do.
It is about taking the time to slow down, to connect
with family, to connect to God and to connect to
ourselves,” she added.
Jews, the Sabbath is sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
Christians traditionally observe the Sabbath on Sundays
in accordance with the New Testament. Still, people
don’t have to be Christian or Jewish to observe a day of
Choosing a location to establish hours
Schaffs’ decision to close Sundays partly determined
where they opened up shop.
selected a location where we could determine our hours
of operation. The malls don’t even close on Thanksgiving
anymore, which is a shame since we have so much to be
thankful for in this country,” Schaff said.
Terri Stine, owner of Fruits Of The Spirit Candles in
Waukesha, also avoided a mall situation when locating
her hand-poured candle shop.
said she wanted “total control” over what her hours
would be. Plus, downtown Waukesha with Friday Night Live
and the farmers market was “very appealing” to her.
choose to have my business closed on Sundays because I
am a Christian businesswoman and I respect that many
community members consider Sunday a day of worship, rest
and spending time with their families, as do I,” Stine
Stine does not think being closed Sundays affected her
bottom line. “I think it is important to place more
emphasis on our values, beliefs and relationships,
rather than on materialism and making money,” she added.
Transition to Sunday closure a success for Hobby Lobby
Observing the Sabbath in a competitive retail world is
not limited to small businesses. Chick-fil-A in
Brookfield and Hobby Lobby in Waukesha, Menomonee Falls
and West Bend also close on Sundays.
“There is a sign at the front of every Hobby Lobby store
that reads, ‘Closed Sundays to allow employees time for
family and worship,’” said Bob Miller, communications
coordinator for Hobby Lobby.
decision to close Sundays required serious fortitude for
Hobby Lobby. Historically, Sundays had their highest
sales-per-hour than any other day.
Miller said profits initially dropped when they phased
in the closings. But, he said, once the transition was
complete, “the company showed the highest percentage of
profit in our history.”
he said, “We constantly get comments from customers
thanking us for closing on Sunday. Many tell us they
appreciate the company letting the employees have a day
No-Sunday hours have also been a big recruitment
incentive for potential store managers, he added.