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August 13, 2021

Border town Americans want shopping hours just for them

Among border towns dotting the 49th parallel, there is supposed to be an unwritten agreement between Canadians and Yanks.

We head south to shop, they head north to … well, what exactly are Americans visiting Canadian border towns for, anyway?

In any case, it’s par for the course to find American license plates in Canadian border towns and Canadian license plates in American border towns. That’s what they’re there for, and that’s how they thrive.

Americans in at least one cross-border hot spot, though, are fed up. Tired of the Canadian influx, they want their own shopping hours at one of the town’s largest retailers.

Bellingham sits about 30 minutes from the Canadian border in B.C., and it’s the Buffalo or Detroit of the west.

*Bing: The pros and cons of cross-border shopping

Its allure as a shopping destination isn’t lost on Canadians, who make the short drive to enjoy the long savings.

Yet Bellingham’s Costco has allegedly been so overrun by Canadian shoppers that regular ol’ American locals want a solution.

A Facebook page called “Bellingham Costco needs a special time just for Americans” (2,269 likes by Monday) has nabbed a good bit of media attention, and calls for the big box wholesaler to make hours designated specifically for local shoppers.

“You all been there,” begins the page in a sterling grammatical display. “its hard to find a parking spot. Them Canadians can be rude. The lines are crazy. We aren’t on a vacation and have an RV to hang out in like those Canadians. We just want to go shopping, not go on an adventure.”

Perhaps it’s fair to cry foul, but certainly the founders of the page aren’t thinking big picture.

Despite a fine sense of humour – after the CBC covered the Facebook page, it linked to the story and posted: “Making Canadian news! Wow, one day we came back from Costco a little pissy and now it turns into this” – irked Costco shoppers aren’t speaking for the city of Bellingham, nor are they for the principle of cross-border shopping.

“In the last two years, our sales tax generation has doubled or tripled the pace in the rest of the state,” Ken Oplinger, the president of Bellingham’s chamber of commerce, told the CBC. “And it’s almost entirely because of Canadians coming south.”

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...