This weekend my good pal Sherrie and I went on a road trip to Buffalo to do some cheap US shopping.
Maybe I have mentioned this before, I can’t remember, but I really dislike shopping. Well wait, I should clarify, because there are certain types of shopping I do enjoy. Like grocery shopping. I like that. But not clothes shopping. Do not enjoy. There are many, many activities I would rather do than go shopping. Off the top of my head I can think of about a million activities. I just feel very overwhelmed when I walk into a clothing store. I just like cardigans.
But I can’t walk around naked all the time, and my job requires me to look at least semi professional, so clothes are a life requirement. Getting those clothes requires shopping, unfortunately. So, shopping is a necessary evil.
Anyway, I just wanted to give you a background. Spending hours in a mall is not my dream. Now you know. But when Sherrie asked me if I was up for a Buffalo adventure to do some shopping, specifically go to Buffalo JUST for shopping, I immediately said yes. I said yes for a few reasons.
1. I genuinely need some things. My business attire could use a few supplements, and as we are all reminded now everywhere we go, Christmas is coming!!! I like shopping for other people (especially Evan, I am discovering, because I know his reactions to what I buy will be good).
2. I have never crossed the border before just for shopping, and around here that is a very popular thing to do. Buffalo is really only about a two hour drive from Toronto so people go over there for shopping all the time. Things cost a lot less and there’s less tax, so whenever I talk to someone who has come back from a US shopping experience I hear about all the great deals they scored. Our dollar is pretty much on par with the US dollar right now, so I don’t think the deals are quite as good as they once were, but things are still noticeably cheaper. So I wanted to cross that off my bucket list!
3. I was excited to spend time with Sherrie. I love my little Sherrie-pop and we do not live very close to each other anymore, so I don’t get to spend as much time with her as I used to. A bonding trip sounded good.
Plus, like me, Sherrie does not like shopping! So if I am going to go shopping with anyone, I would rather it be someone who wasn’t all “YAY SHOPPING!!!!!” and dragging me around to all the stores that overwhelm me. Sherrie and I are both very laid back and go with the flow, so we both took the approach of “let’s see if we feel like it…” and it worked out well.
We crossed the border at the Niagara Falls Rainbow bridge around 10:30am on Saturday without incident.
We were both nervous as we have heard horror stories about the border guards searching your car and detaining you for hours (happened to Evan and friends last year), so we both had the feeling that we were already doing something wrong even though we hadn’t done anything at all yet. Like that feeling you get when you see a police officer and you flash back to every moderately bad thing you’ve ever done in your life (Captain Hook day for me).
Our border lane had a girl attendant, which was slightly disappointing at first because I feel like men are usually easier to joke around with when you don’t know them. Men tend to tolerate more from strange ladies than ladies do (my Bestie Lisa and I say that 60ish-year-old men are our target audience because we know they will just like us immediately). But by the time we got through the border the lady working was basically our new best friend. She was all tough and no-nonsense at first but we softened her up with our cheesy jokes, and ended up chatting with her for about 15 minutes about random things like Halloween costumes (she told us she once dressed as a naked lady, so that was interesting), and our full names (I know what her parents used to call her when she was in trouble). I think she wanted to detain us just so she could talk to us longer. The people behind us probably did not like us. But anyway, that was a success and we crossed the border feeling good.
We checked into our hotel in Niagara Falls (Econolodge, and it was nothing fancy at all, but it was cheap and did the trick). You have to stay at least 24 hours when you go, otherwise you have to pay duty on everything you bring back. Also, if you are only going for less than 48 hours you can only spend $200 or you have to pay duty on anything over that when you cross back. You are also not allowed to bring back any booze, which was a super bummer because as I have complained about in detail before, beer is almost double the price here. I’m serious, almost double. We saw a 2-4 of Corona at Walmart (WALMART!!!!) and it was $25. Here is is $40! I don’t know why we pay so much more, but I know that I don’t like it.
This is getting quite long, so I will just cover some of the highlights of the shopping.
1. I spent most of my money at Target and Walmart, which is funny because we have both of those stores in Canada. But it’s more expensive! At Walmart I saved 50% on the regular makeup I wear, and at Target I got new Apple headphones for my iPhone for $29.99. They’re $40 here. Plus 13% HST. So just an example of the savings.
2. I LOVE the Burlington Coat Factory. It’s like a Winners, but BETTER. I probably could have spent all day in there, but we didn’t get there until 7pm and by then we were just so done with shopping and I wasn’t in the biggest browsing mood. I scored a shower curtain liner (exciting), and a Nine West purse (compare at $90) for $30. Sherrie got a dog bed for $10. We were both ecstatic about our finds.
3. I spent most of my money on food. Specifically food you can’t buy in Canada. Like Birthday Cake Oreos (they’re like Dunkaroos!), Pumpkin Reeses’s Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers, fancy peanut butter (Justin’s, and Peanut Butter Co.), french toast Gold Fish, chili pepper popcorn… A lot of food stuff. When I was crossing the border back into Canada the guy asked what we bought and I explained I wanted American snacks and he said “So, like groceries? You bought groceries?” Yeah, pretty much.
4. I also saw this:
But I could not bring myself to buy it. I like the idea of this, but it did not have chocolate in it. And the two ingredients were peanuts and sugar. That’s not even peanuts and salt a la regular peanut butter. Peanuts and sugar. Just seemed like bad news.
5. We went to the Olive Garden for dinner, which I have been looking forward to for about 10 years, since they discontinued it in Canada. It was not as good as I remembered. It was basically East Side Marios. But, unlimited breadsticks and garden salad. Always a win.
6. I think what they say about portion sizes in America may be true.
7. Sherrie and I had a fashion show at Forever 21. One of the stores that overwhelm me, though I do like their $7.80 skinny jeans (and that’s Canadian prices!). Usually though it’s more like WTForever21.
So that is that. It was a good time, and I am happy to cross that off the bucket list. Probably won’t take a trip just for shopping for a long while though.
(Edit: I didn’t spend ALL my money at Walmart and Target, we went to some outlets and Kohl’s also. I am just covering the highlights. And we didn’t JUST eat at the Olive Garden. We had The Mighty Taco for lunch.)