SEATTLE (CBS) – Costco customers in the town of Bellingham, north of Seattle, are engaged in a border war with their Canadian neighbors. The residents say they are tired of sharing the store and want to establish American-only shopping hours at their store.
The Canadians – taking advantage of their strong dollar value – are stocking up on everything in bulk.
“We come down here a couple of times a month and we save a fair bit of money,” Vancouver resident Rob Weeks told CBS News after he made another journey into the United States.
A Facebook group has emerged that shows the Bellingham residents’ concern on the matter. “It’s hard to find a parking spot. The lines are crazy” wrote one fan of the page. “The overcrowding is causing some to be rude. We just want to go shopping like everyone else, not go on an adventure.”
A few members are evoking a sense of convenience store patriotism in their Facebook comments. The group currently has about 3,250 “likes” and the description reads, “People let’s rant about how horrible Bellingham Costco is to its Founding customers.”
Another anti-Canadian customer had a plan to help curb the international oppression.
“I say we apply the same rules at our border crossings that the Canadians have towards Americans. If anyone has bounced checks (cheques for Canadians) or a DUI (misdemeanor) and all the other silly things that keep Americans and other world citizens out of their country, then we should do the same until they treat us as equals.”
Kep Oplinger, president and CEO of the local chamber of commerce told CBS News, “I’d say our first reaction to it was a bit surprised. And then as we read some of the postings I was rather appalled that people would say some of the things that they have on the page.”
Costco says it’s doing everything it can to help ease the apparent Canadian invasion: hiring local off-duty police to control traffic, beefing up staff and expanding store hours. Oplinger stated that the Canadians were helping by bringing business and economic flow into the community.
“Watken County’s economy really is reliant upon Canadians coming and shopping and recreating here,” Oplinger told CBS News. “We shouldn’t be limiting access to retail stores based on nationality.”
Costco doesn’t plan on changing its policy anytime soon. But the company is in talks with the town to open a new, bigger location.