18 December 2007


The new world of shopping

I've ordered several of this year's Christmas presents online from the U.S., although none of them has arrived yet, which is a bit worrisome. Nevertheless, the current U.S.-Canadian dollar parity means waiting for Customs clearance is usually worth it.

For instance, I was looking for a particular present that I wanted to pick up today in town. No one had it in stock, despite several stores listing it on their websites. So I went to the manufacturer's online store in the U.S., and they were happy to take my order and ship it expedited to Canada, so that it may very well arrive before Christmas (no guarantees, though). And even with rush shipping and taxes, it was still several dollars cheaper than if I'd found it locally at retail.

My podcast co-host Paul has a post office box just across the border in Washington state (he lives in Cloverdale, B.C., about 15 minutes north of the line) which simplifies things even further: he can order from stores that don't normally ship to Canada at all, then pick up the stuff and deal with Customs himself. That saves him quite a bit of time and money—even when the dollar isn't as strong as it is now.

He does seem to be spending an awful lot more than he might otherwise on gadgets and gizmos across the border these days, though. I don't know if we're saving money in the end, or simply spending on more stuff.

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I, too, have a po box right across the border. Probably the same place your friend does. It does me no good since I can't leave Canada until I get my VISA, but I plan on keeping it. I'm a spoiled American girl and used to get my amazon orders a day and a half later. For free!
You don't even need to invest in a post office box these days. I'm heading down to Point Roberts later this week to pick up some online-ordered Christmas gifts. The place I use there charges me a small fee for each package I receive at their depot ($3).

Since I'm a student with more time than I have money, I ship stuff to Point Roberts all the time to save on exhorbitant shipping rates and brokerage fees, then bus+bike down to get it.
Or you can find a friend just across the border. Put out an ad "Looking for friend in U.S. living close to border...Will bring beer from Canada"
That's one of the things I enjoy about living in the US--the wide range of available merchandise. (And the great highway system too.) When I lived in Canada, it was much harder to find stuff that could be shipped to Canada. Electronics, like keyboards aren't allowed to be shipped across the border, so I had to resign myself to a squishy keyboard because I couldn't get Dell to ship me the one I wanted since it was from the US--long story; quite frustrating. Anyway, I really appreciate the vast choices when ordering on line. Eg. Vanilla beans--$11 for 2 in the grocery store, but $1 - $1.50 each in bulk on line.