Saturday, December 15, 2007

How do you feel about cross border shopping?

We’re heading down to the States today with a few friends to do a little Christmas shopping. The timing seems ideal. The Loonie is still high, our local prices haven’t yet dropped, and the American ones haven’t yet risen in response to the sagging Greenback. I figure we can get a few good deals and have a bit of fun shopping in a new place. I’m also hoping the maternity wear selection will be better and cheaper.

That being said, I won’t be telling my parents we went.

Why? Mom and Dad have always been vehemently opposed to cross-border shopping. Well, opposed to Canadians shopping down South. They quite enjoy Americans bringing their money up here. Bit of a biased viewpoint, but understandable.

They have a few solid points, which apply no matter what border and which direction we’re talking about. Spending your money locally helps keep that money in the community. If you buy a gift from a local business owner, it helps keep him in business, which helps keep tax dollars and employment in your town. This is even true, though to a lesser degree, of shopping at the local outlet of a big chain store.

As an investment advisor in a small town, Dad was always very much aware of this. His clients were local. They were often local business people. If their profits were down, their available money for investing went down, and Dad’s paycheque went down. He was directly tied into the loop and he knew it.

Many others were also directly involved in that loop and for the most part, they knew it too. It was the ones who were indirectly tied to it that didn’t. The teachers and other government employees tended (and I’m generalizing here) to be the most active border crossers. They’re paycheques weren’t directly tied into the amount of money currently circulating in town. They were paid by the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

Ultimately, however, the prosperity of a town affects even them. If a business closes down, then those former employees have to look for work elsewhere. If enough of them leave, some of the schools will be closed due to the lack of kids, and government services will be cut back.

But cross-border shopping moves in cycles. When I was young, everyone crossed to the States to get better deals on things. When I was older and the Loonie took a dive down to 60-odd cents US, it was the other way around. Good deals could be found in Canada for Americans and their powerful dollar. Now it’s turned around again.

It might be said that it all evens out. It could also be argued that if we’re all equal, I shouldn’t matter where we spend our money.

I don’t go often, it’s probably been ten years, though that’s more to do with the currency exchange situation than anything else. I usually buy locally when I can, and I visit local chain stores when I can’t. I figure I can take the occasional trip across the border without too much guilt. I’m one of those indirect loopers, after all.

I still won’t be telling Dad.

What do you think? Would you cross a local border to save money, or is it taboo?


guinness416 said...

I hate to say it, but I do kinda side with your folks, any reason to avoid giving your hard earned to the big boxes is good with me. I do detest outlet malls, too, they make me very cranky. Also the husband has banned me from crossing land borders since the wallet throwing incident last year that resulted in my being put in some sort of customs time out for a few hours. So no yankeeshopping for me. Have fun, may you pick up many bargains.

FourPillars said...

Guiness - I'd love to hear more about the wallet throwing. Sounds like a good post.

Anyways, I don't see anything wrong with xborder shopping. I personally don't do it because I don't think it's worth it.


Fecundity said...

Guinness, I second the opinion. The wallet throwing incident must be shared.

guinness416 said...

Heh, I'll write that one up for you soon. Short version is that I'm not overburdened with patience or a long fuse, but you knew that. Gonna tell us what books you bought, fecundity? I'm getting ready for 11 days of eating and reading, so all recommendations welcome.

Fecundity said...

I'm willing to share on the book front, Guinness, but I don't think it'll do you much good. I bought two copies of So You're Expecting to be a Grandparent! for my parents and in-laws, The Little Engine that Could and The Velveteen Rabbit for my three-year-old niece and The Very Busy Spider for my friend's one-year-old son.

They're all good books, but I doubt any of them are the type of thing you want to curl up with.

I did recently read The Bad Mother's Handbook (which my smartass husband bought for me from the Bargain Books at Chapters). It's a novel about three generations of women living together in a small dump of a village in England. The grandmother is senile, the mother is bitter and lonely, and the daughter is in the process of repeating her mother's mistake by getting herself knocked up at 17. I found it a fast and fairly entertaining read, which is impressive considering I normally prefer Sci Fi and Fantasy.