I was getting around to posting a blog about the subtle differences I’ve noticed between life in the United States and life in Canada, but the differences are such that one post would do great injustice to the subtleties and not-so subtleties. So, I’ve decided to break topics into contest posts, pitting the countries against each other and naming a winner in the end.
It’s a very highly subjective contest.
Today’s topic? Retail.
Without a doubt, there is no contest here. Canadian retail sucks. (Yes, Mom, I know I just used the word “sucks” in print.) And, if you disagree with me, than you’re probably an average-sized Canadian who has never shopped stateside. Sure there are stores and malls and shopping in Canada. But the selection? Not as abundant. And the pricing? Not spectacular, especially with the slide of the U.S. dollar. And, I’m not just referring to clothing. And, I’m not just bitter because Canada is Target-less.
That’s a whole ‘nother post.
Take Christmas cards, for example. Greeting cards up north, in general, are obscenely expensive. On average, you’ll spend $3-4 for a card. And, the card won’t sing or perform tricks. This year, I opted to create photo Christmas cards and used Vistaprint to make and purchase them. The company was running a fantastic half-off deal, which I highly recommend, that allowed me to score (50) non-folding, 5×7″ full-color cards printed on heavy matte paper stock, with envelopes and free U.S. shipping, for $32.46.
Not a bad deal, right? That’s almost $0.65 per card. And the order arrived within seven days. Another bonus.
Wanting to share the happiness, and knowing that my mother-in-law was looking to do something similar, I suggested she use Vistaprint’s Canadian counterpart, which looks just like its American sibling. I knew she’d have to pay in Canadian dollars and ship her order to a Canadian address. But, the site was offering deals on its holiday cards and enough of a deal that the cards would still be less than $4/card.
It turns out the American definition of “deal” is miles away from the Canadian definition of the same word. Ordering a very similar-looking card with a free grayscale backside versus a cost-adding color like mine, my mother-in-law’s 50-card order came to $47.48. For the base cost. With shipping and all the special Canadian taxes, the order came to $86.83. And, while $1.74/card is better than $4/card, HOLY SMOKES!
I did NOT help save any dollars this Christmas. And the whole experience has done nothing to help me think better of Canadian retail. Gah!
Winner of U.S. vs. Canada, Round 1: Team U.S.