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Published May 06, 2013, 08:10 PM

"Crossing the Border" part one: Canadian shoppers boost local economy

Anyone shopping in Grand Forks, especially on the weekend, knows there are a lot of Canadian license plates. Even if you hate competing for a parking spot at the big box stores, those dollars spent locally have big impact on our economy.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

Anyone shopping in Grand Forks, especially on the weekend, knows there are a lot of Canadian license plates. Even if you hate competing for a parking spot at the big box stores, those dollars spent locally have big impact on our economy.

The biggest draw to Grand Forks? That's an easy one -- it's to take advantage of cheaper priced merchandise they find in the states. A strong Canadian dollar doesn't hurt either.

On a typical weekend hundreds of Canadians cross the border at the Pembina Crossing. That is where the Port of Entry officers here say the large majority of Canadians are headed.

Julie Rygg, Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau: "Some will split up their trip. They will spend a day or two here and spend a day or two in Fargo, but a majority of people we surveyed say they were staying in Grand Forks."

Survey results from the Convention and Visitor's Bureau also say 77 percent of Manitobans have a clear reason for their visit.

Shane Zakaluk: "Came down to go shopping."

Christine Pauls: "Shopping. "

Bernie Freisen: "Just to have fun and spend a little time shopping."

Cheaper prices and selection are the reason these folks say they made the trip.

Christine Pauls: "There are things here we can not get in Winnipeg."

And the money Canadians drop into the local economy adds up.

Freisen: "500 bucks for like shopping."

Zakaluk: "Normal spend about 1,500 dollars."

Pauls: "Usually, a grand for sure and that doesn't include food and hotels."

Rygg: "They are hugely important to Grand Forks they are our largest leisure travel market."

But the influx of Canadian plates does come with some frustration, and that's more traffic and longer lines. Diedra Landberg from East Grand Forks made a call to her sister in Grand Forks before heading to Target.

Landberg, local shopper: " Is it crazy? and she says every single car I've seen was canadian. I was like aw man."

Brenda Sem, Thompson : "Because of that I choose a specific time as to when to head out to shop -- later in the evening."

But those locals we did talk with say they are not angry and understand the good that comes from our visitors to the North. Rygg says other communities would be green with envy to be in Grand Forks' position.

Rygg : "Because they are contributing to our economy, And in turn the demand for the goods means more selection we are going to have for our local residents. "

If the cheaper prices were not enough of a draw Rygg says the CVB does advertise to promote events in Grand Forks, especially during Canadian holidays.

Next Monday we will look at what Canadians are buying and how big those price differences are on the some key products.

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