At a City Council meeting earlier this week, Weaver Mayor Wayne Willis asked for input on updating an ordinance regulating ways people can solicit sales by knocking on doors.
“My first thought is to just do away with it all,” Willis said. “But after talking to some people, they think that’s maybe going too far.”
It might not be a completely legal solution, either. Willis said in researching how other cities have handled the problem of door-to-door sales, he came across the “Green River Ordinance” established in Wyoming in the 1930s. The town of Green River enacted a strict no-trespassing policy — a measure that’s been challenged in the Supreme Court, but not overturned.
“I’m not trying to limit anyone’s ability to free enterprise,” Willis said. “But this law says you can’t go knock on someone’s door to sell them something without them inviting you to do so.”
While Weaver would likely welcome any type of business opening in the city, very little revenue is actually generated from door-to-door sales, according to Willis. Under current law, businesses wanting to use door-to-door salespeople must obtain a solicitation license at city hall at a cost of less than $10.
Willis said he doesn’t think the council would change the cost to obtain a license with the city, but would look at more thorough background checks and tighter time window for sales.
But some of Weaver’s updates on city laws have already been addressed by Montgomery. Legislation from Rep. Randy Wood, R-Saks, that passed earlier this year, banned door-to-door sales from taking place after sundown in Calhoun County. But Weaver Councilman Mike Warren said the countywide sundown law isn’t really restrictive enough.
“You’re talking right now like 7:30, sometimes 8:30 at night,” Warren said. “I heard someone tell me someone knocked on their door at 8. That’s pretty late to be out.”
Warren said early mornings seem to be a problem too, with complaints of salespeople ringing doorbells at 8 a.m.
Calhoun County License Commissioner Barry Robertson told The Star earlier this year the legislation was in response to an increase in door-to-door sales around the county starting in 2009. In some cases, concerned residents began contacting the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office after what they thought were suspicious visits.
And ultimately, if the law is to have any effect whatsoever, residents will need to report the lawbreakers to the authorities, not the council, Warren said.
“I’d like to see how it’s handled from an enforcement standpoint,” Warren said. “The problem is, 90 percent of the time it’s a legitimate business, so you hate to restrict someone running a legitimate business.”
Willis said one way to combat that problem might be more visible signs for sellers, including only operating vehicles with a company’s name and number, and wearing a nametag or lanyard.
Willis said the measure will hopefully make things a little less dangerous for both the seller and the potential customers. Residents won’t be suspicious of well-identified businessmen, and the salesperson can be less worried about annoyed or irate customers.
“It’s about safety,” Willis said. “I’m going to do what I can to make sure people in Weaver are safe.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.