U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Some cross-border life on hold

FREDERICTON — The COVID-19 pandemic has put cross-border shopping trips and vacations on hold since March, and many American businesses along the border say they miss both the revenue and the familiar Canadian faces.

Bill Kilby, manager of Hardwick’s Country Store in Calais, Maine, has seen a dramatic 90 per cent loss in revenue and had to lay off 10 employees.

Kilby says that after 37 years on the job, he knows many Canadian customers and their children and grandchildren by name.

Billy Jones, member of the New York State Assembly for the area that includes Plattsburgh, N.Y., says the lack of Canadians means that some area campgrounds are at just 10 per cent capacity.

He says the border closure is resulting in a new appreciation for Canadians and what they mean to the local economy.

Dottie Gallagher, president and CEO of the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership says she worries a prolonged closure will prompt Canadians to change their habits and find new places to shop and vacation.

The border is currently closed until Aug. 21 for all but essential travel.

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