Local News

October 29, 2012

Sales-tax boom linked to Canadians

PLATTSBURGH — News of an increase in sales-tax revenue has Clinton County businesses happily blaming Canada.

Alan Torner, a sales associate who works in the electronics department at Walmart, has seen the impact of Canadian business.

Torner said Canadians bring in valuable revenue to the North Country. He previously worked at a Walmart in Albany that did not make as much money as the one in Plattsburgh, and he says a diverse range of customers from near and far keep the cash registers full in Plattsburgh.

“Many (Canadians) go south to Florida for the winter, and they buy flat-screens and TracFones here to use in their campers,” Torner said.

Guylaine Grenier, a migratory Canadian who rents two condominiums in Florida, said she normally comes south of the border once a month to take advantage of low U.S. sales taxes.

Grenier said low prices on items like dairy products and electronics encourage Canadians to shop in the United States, but that some items, such as fish and meat, are cheaper back home.

However, when it comes to wine and liquor, Grenier said Canadian stores cannot beat New York prices. She said she has seen bottles of wine sell for twice as much in Montreal than in New York.

She said businesses like Famous Footwear also have sent her email promotions encouraging her to make shopping trips.

Grenier said the reason behind the higher prices in Montreal was Quebec’s sales taxes, which are significantly higher than in Clinton County.

According to, Quebec charges both a goods and services tax of 5 percent, with a sales tax of 9.5 percent on top of the price adjusted by the GST.

Dominic Veilette is also a Quebecer who said she shops in Plattsburgh two to three times a year because of the low prices and the variety of goods in the stores here. She said that milk is expensive in Montreal, and that even U.S. craft items are cheaper.

Veilette said her daughter, who works at a Michaels in Montreal, has talked to her about how much more expensive her store’s goods are compared to the ones sold in Plattsburgh.

”We came before the dollar was even because the prices have always been better here,” Veillette said.

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