Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black Friday shopping

A friend and I went south to Grand Forks to do some "shopping" I put that in quotes, because it likely sees a bit more cash leave our country, province, and city than most peoples little jaunts south do... this is semi-pro shopping.
Cloutier had a show on CJOB about us going south and why we do it, and there were a few callers that had it sort of right about the question, "Why?"
Because we can is the first answer. We can drive for 90 minutes and go to a place where our dollar (today) goes much farther than it does at home. I'll admit, we'd both rather shop at home. We'd both rather keep our money in our City, Province, Country... but we can't. We can't, because to do so is almost foolish for us.
We often shop at a place that sells building materials that uses the "Run to" slogan here in the City. We both get a "discount" because we frequent the place more than the casual buyer, and spend a lot more there than the normal Joe... but we noticed a really big difference in a lot of things. Most of the prices are from the "Save big Money at..." store.
  • Pricing  Insulation, made by Guardian (a Canadian company) in Canada is $5 a bundle after a rebate. Granted the rebate is in the form of a store credit... but hey, I'll spend it. At the "Run to" store in the Peg, R20 23" is .54 per square foot. R25  23" in the US is .22 cents a square foot. Somebody help me. This looks like "more for less". The list goes on... like "free paint". The available rebate is equal to the cost. It's almost stupid from a business stand point..... or is it? It seems to be working, at least for them. Mansfield toilet in a box $50 ($150 here)
  • Selection  We simply don't have the kind of products available to us that they do. My friend bought Delta faucets that he'd likely have to special order, at less than local prices at the big white and blue store where they want to, "build something together" and sponsor the recent NASCAR 5 time winner. We've purchased a lot of things there, simply because of availability. They have EVERYTHING in stock, they know where it is and they're happy to get it for you.
  • Customer Service  These people almost fall over themselves to sell you product. Sure, they expected a busy day and had staff on hand for it, but we've been there numerous times before and it's always the same. Excellent. I once faxed down window measurements for quotes to 3 chain stores there. Within 24 hours, all 3 had provided the info, and one of them called back a few weeks later to tell me the product I was asking about was going on sale and gave me the new discounted price. This is a far cry from the "you're a real pain in the ass" treatment I get here. Not only do they get back to you, and follow up the sales calls, they help you find product (they even know what you're talking about, or find someone who does) and say very strange things like, "Could I get a cart for you sir". Last time I was at the "run to" store they told me there might be some in the parking lot.
  • Duty  There is none. All you do is pay your PST and GST at the border, and I pay those here regardless AND I can get my ND sales tax back. (easily)
So let's review. We go there, buy about $7000 US worth of building supplies that would have cost us OVER $12,000 here. Ummm.... I don't ever earn $5,000 in a day.

I can't be concerned about the Canadian jobs, the "universal health care" my taxes pay for (primarily because if I was ever diagnosed with anything serious I'd flee our system before you could say "biopsy"), or the altruistic, "support our local economy". As Canadians, we're seen as fools by the people who set prices on products. They hide behind "distribution costs" and claim it's because of our population base being smaller, but I think that's all just bullshit. The manufacturers set the prices, (look into drywall costs for example) and they know they have us over a barrel. Most people won't bother making the effort to save the money because of the time it takes. They don't have a truck and a large trailer, they can't justify a day off work, and they can't save as much as we do in a single shopping day, so they are "captive" to they pricing here.

Menard's is coming folks. What is to be seen is if they will be pricing things just below the status quo here, or extending the pricing they currently offer their American customers. Remember when the other "super stores" came, prices were low, they ran the small companies out of business, cut their staff and service, and left 2 local lumber yards of any decent selection and service in the city.

From what I've heard there, and read just recently, they know how to do it. Sell us their stuff and deliver it here to a warehouse where you pick it up. They already deliver here, you just have to meet them at the border to pay the taxes. This will just make it easier. and

We get screwed over... a lot. Canadian snowmobiles made by Bombardier, (a company that has seen A LOT of tax money help keep it afloat) sells sleds to Canadians for more than Americans. Cars and trucks from the big 3, (all of them really), boats, campers... pretty much everything. Sure, the biggest crooks are our governments (pick a level) who still have an impact on pricing as a result of our terrible tax system against businesses (Would you like a regressive payroll tax with that?), but in the end, we're responsible for that too. We don't have to keep sending the lefties to Ottawa or Broadway.

Some economist can offer up answers as to "why", but I don't really care. I'll keep taking my business elsewhere until they can figure out I don't want it over the barrel, or in any other submissive position.


  1. Bombardier sold off Ski Doo a number of years ago. (They are still made in Canada, however.)

  2. I think Ski-doo is manufactured by Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (or BRP) I'm not clear on who owns it, or if it's a subsidiary of "the mother corporation".