Did you know that in Alaska, it's illegal to wake a sleeping bear to take a photo, and in Texas, it's illegal to sell your own eye? Sounds crazy, right? All states have a few strange laws that still exist today for one reason or another.
Small business laws usually aren't quite as outlandish as these, but it's worth researching the lesser-known regulations, too — as some may directly impact how you operate your company. Here are five wild laws in certain states and counties that may affect small business owners (and you, if your company is located there):
1. Grocery Taxes
Many states don't tax groceries. But in some cases, an item might double as both a grocery and a decoration — like pumpkins in the autumn, for example. In New Jersey, a customer has to declare what their intentions are when they buy pumpkins, so that the business can determine if sales taxes are applicable. Retailers that sell pumpkins that are painted or carved are required to charge sales tax.
2. Blue Laws
Blue laws forbid more than just the sale of alcohol on Sundays. They can prevent businesses, small or large, from selling virtually any item on a specific day or time. For instance, car sales are illegal on Sundays in Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan counties with populations of 130,000 or more. Meanwhile, Bergen County, New Jersey doesn't allow the sale of clothing, furniture or home appliances on Sundays.
3. Bagel Loopholes
Thinking about starting a small bagel business on the streets of New York? It might surprise you to learn that there are specific tax laws made just for you. For instance, if you sell a whole bagel, there is no tax. However, if your customers want their bagels sliced, toasted or covered with cream cheese for on-site consumption, the bagel is subjected to a "processed food" tax.
4. Kids on Camera
If you're a film producer in California and you work with minors, you'll need to abide by numerous California Child Labor Laws in order for your business to stay compliant. There's even a law that stipulates that babies can't be exposed to excessively bright light for intervals longer than 30 seconds.
5. Napping in Salons
There are many administration rules and license requirements for cosmetology businesses, and salon owners know they need to comply with these in order to keep their operations up and running. But did you know that in Florida, a client who falls asleep under a hair dryer can be fined—and so can the business! If you own a salon, you might want to remind your clients about this law before you both dive into a time-consuming hairdo.
Although most small business laws aren't as surprising as these, check the regulations in the state and county where you plan to do business to make sure you're in compliance. With a little research, your company will start off on the right track.