Exchange rate savings as good as a 'free' North Dakota trip
The way Alan Zimmer looks at it, his family's three-day vacation to North Dakota was cost-free. The Winnipeg family's getaway started on a Friday morning with a stop at Pembina, N.D., to fill up the gas tank and buy alcohol, tobacco and perfume a...
The way Alan Zimmer looks at it, his family's three-day vacation to North Dakota was cost-free.
The Winnipeg family's getaway started on a Friday morning with a stop at Pembina, N.D., to fill up the gas tank and buy alcohol, tobacco and perfume at the duty-free shop.
From there, they traveled to Grand Forks to shop, and then on to the Spirit Lake Casino in Fort Totten for gambling and a night's stay.
Their final leg was to Minot for more shopping before returning home through the Portal, N.D., border crossing.
"We'll spend $500 on tobacco that would cost us $1,000 in Canada," Zimmer said. "With that savings, we'll pay for our gas, our motel and maybe even our gambling.
"When it pays for the weekend, it only makes economic sense."
Everything seems to cost less south of the border, Zimmer said. That's especially true when it comes to gas, alcohol and tobacco, which are highly taxed in Canada.
The stronger dollar provided further incentive to make "tobacco runs," as Zimmer puts it. But they've been coming to Grand Forks since son Chris, now 27, participated in weeklong UND youth hockey camps.
Chris was looking for shoes and stereo equipment in Grand Forks. Alan had his eyes on cheese, often found for one-fourth the price. Michelle, Alan's wife, had her arms full of perfume bottles and was eagerly anticipating a stop at Wal-Mart.
"I'm like a kid in a candy store in Wal-Mart," she said. "We have Wal-Marts, too, but the selection is so much better here. There's more variety of everything."
Variety equals price as an attraction. For example, grocers say, Canadians often empty the shelves of Bush brand beans.
"In the grocery shop, we'll have five varieties of (Campbell's) Chunky soup to your 20 varieties," Michelle said. "There are flavors in cake mixes and snacks we can't get."
Alan said he might buy a used vehicle in the U.S., then "bring it up, sell it and make a pile of money on it."
He even prefers gambling in the U.S. "In Canada, the government runs gambling, so they keep the money," he said. "Everywhere you look, the government has their hands in your pocket."
Bakken reports on local news and writes a column. Reach him at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or firstname.lastname@example.org .