Costco shopping carts await customers outside a Costco Warehouse in Carlsbad, California February 28, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/ Mike Blake
VANCOUVER - A Facebook page ranting against Canadians patronizing a big-box retailer south of the border has touched off an online war of words between those on either side of the 49th parallel.
Annoyed at parking problems and long lineups at the stateside Costco in Bellingham, Wa., some residents there have set up a Facebook page calling for American-only hours when they can shop Canadian-free.
"Them Canadians can be rude. The lines are crazy. We aren't on a vacation and have an RV to hang out in like those Canadians," the page states.
By Monday afternoon, the page had received more than 2,400 "likes" and generated interest from national U.S. news networks.
Plenty of Canadians, however, expressed outrage.
One self-identified Canuck went so far as to report the page to Facebook administrators, saying it "clearly supports racism, harassment."
Another, identified in his profile as Andre Rheaume, launched into an attack.
"It just comes down to flat broke ... jealous americans that really can't afford to go shopping anymore so they need to put the blame on Canadians where the economy is in much greater shape. Sour grapes I say! Here's a loonie... go buy yourself a life (sic)!"
A Vancouver man who runs a website offering comparison prices said lower costs and parity in the dollar still send many bargain-hunters south of the border.
Cross-border shopping has also likely been spurred by the federal government's June increase on the amount Canadians can spend without paying duty - although day-trips are excluded.
"We shop regularly in the States, especially for groceries. I can advise that organic goods are pretty much the same cost as regular goods," said CrossBorderShopping.com webmaster Henry Tenby. "On average, you're looking at saving about 50% in terms of groceries."
While Canadians and American fight it out at the Costco, Canadian retailers are paying the price.
Shafiq Jamal of the Retail Council of Canada said local businesses are suffering and urged Canadians to keep their dollars at home.
"By shopping at home, Canadians support their economy and community," he said.
Indeed, many Facebook posters said they would take their dollars elsewhere and stop pumping them into the U.S. economy.
"The root of the problem here is plain and simple - just the good ol' American habit of ignoring the mirror when considering your problems," wrote Facebook user Ken Webber.