Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cross Border Shoppers

" I wonder if these folks ever have even the slightest of pangs of guilt .."

It seems harmless and even fiscally prudent, to visit our local shops to find just the perfect “widget”, pick it up, feel it, maybe even try it on. Politely place it back on the shelf, thank the clerk for their assistance, and then head home to fire up a web browser and glee in the fact that you can find it 10%, 20% even 50% less by purchasing on-line. A job well done!.

I have many acquaintances, that revel in the joys of hopping in the car, some almost weekly, and cross the border to the United States.. Again, to save so much money for everything they purchase. From clothing to groceries, these folks are more than eager to present to those that will listen on the great savings that they reaped from their frequent visits. Again, how exciting that they could avoid paying the local rates, sales taxes for their purchases, and save so much money.

We are all lucky here in Canada, to enjoy many public safety nets. And I am confident that even these prudent on-line and cross border shopping fanatics are more than willing to enjoy the security of these social safety nets. In the unfortunate case of medical needs, our discount hunters, demand and expect the same attention as the rest of us crazy people who shop at our local retailers, and pay that crazy sales tax. Their children are expected to enjoy public schooling, protection of police, safety of transportation etc, even as their parents are shopping for back to school clothes, shoes, milk and turkeys in the savings Mecca of the United States.

But of course it is hard to support small privately owned retailers, because they continue to go out of business. I mean, how frustrating is it, when shopping for a pair of Skates, the store that you always go into to find the exact size and make, so you were sure when you order it on-line, you will get the right fit, how frustrating is it when they have gone out of business?? It is terrible when after getting a great deal on a musical instrument in Maine, USA, and you need adjustments made on it.. and the local store is no longer there.. Again.. Gone out of business.

God forbid, as you pack all of your LL Bean camping equipment, in the SUV that you bought at a Florida auction.. You discover that you need to replace a broken paddle for your Kayak that you bought on e-bay from a dealer in California. BUT you don’t have time to drive to the United States to get a new one. When you visit your local sports store, they no longer sell paddles because they cannot compete in that market any further. DAMN RETAILERS!!

BMO, very recently released a report on Cross Border Shopping. $21,000,000,000 was spent last year in cross border shopping. $21 BILLION!!! That is $21 Billion that is gone from our economy completely, no trickledown economics within our country, no taxes, no paying a retailer, that pays there employees, that buy products, that support retailers, that support manufactures... each and every step, taxes are paid to support our safety nets, our hospitals, our schools, our infrastructure.

An appeal from a locally owned
retail  shop  to support
 local business

So I wonder, for those that stand proudly in front of friends displaying all of their purchases.. chanting the mantra that we have all heard far too many times “I got this in the states and I only paid..$xx”. I wonder if these folks ever have even the slightest of pangs of guilt as they pass family owned businesses that have closed their doors, or as they wait in an emergency waiting room needing medical assistance. Maybe even the slighted pang of guilt.. I don’t know. 

What they can celebrate, that indeed in our fine country of Canada, you can have your cake and eat it too.. Even with a cake purchased in the US.